If you intend to lease or buy residential or commercial property, it is normal practice to instruct a solicitor. A solicitor will be able to instigate the necessary searches on the property, the results of which may affect your decision as to whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
People are often aware of ‘local searches’ and may think these provide comprehensive background information on a property but, in reality, local searches will not furnish you with much information. They will only provide basic planning details that affect the property, details of any financial charges registered in the local land charges register, details of any known outstanding breaches of planning regulations and whether or not the adjoining roadway to the property is maintained at public expense. One problem with local searches is that the local authority will only provide you with information relating specifically to the property you have enquired about and not any nearby or even adjacent developments which could potentially be of significant importance to you and your decision to purchase.
However, local searches are just one of the categories of search you should obtain if you are considering purchasing a property. For a further fee, it is possible to acquire additional information from the local authority, which includes information relating to byways or public pathways, road traffic schemes, environmental notices and enterprise zones, all of which may impact significantly on the value and suitability of a property.
There are other, less well-known searches which are also important, particularly when you are looking to purchase commercial property. These include company searches, commons registration searches, contaminated land searches, coal and tin mining searches and utility searches. In many parts of the country, environmental searches may indicate other forms of risk, such as the risk of flood or subsidence.
Lastly, a proper search of title and rights over land is essential. Where a problem with legal title is discovered, it may be possible to buy title insurance to meet the cost of a later rectification of the title should problems arise.
Residential properties require a Home Information Pack (HIP) when being marketed for sale. A HIP must contain local searches and details of the provision of drainage and water services to the property. However, this will provide only some of the information necessary to make a fully informed decision regarding your potential purchase. A HIP must also contain evidence of title of the property being sold.
In order to carry out the searches necessary to provide you with comprehensive information on a property, it is advisable to instruct a firm of solicitors as they will know which searches should be performed and be able to explain the results of these to you, giving you peace of mind that you are protected against unanticipated problems.
Our property professionals can assist you when buying or selling residential or commercial property.