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The Latin phrase ‘Caveat Emptor’ which translated to English means ‘Let the Buyer Beware’, is a maxim which applies to the purchase of any property. The onus is on the buyer to check the physical condition of the property and to investigate the title to see if there are any restrictions on use, or rights of way which affect the property. Therefore it is crucial that the Buyer knows exactly what they are getting themselves into, after all, they are making one of the biggest financial commitments of their life!

The warning is to ensure that the Buyer and their solicitor make the necessary investigations against the title to ascertain whether there are any covenants, restrictions, third party rights that may be attached to the property. But that is only half of the story….

It is recommended that a prudent Buyer obtains searches to assist the solicitor/conveyancer and mortgage lender (if applicable) to make the appropriate investigations on the property. There are numerous property searches available to a buyer and some which a solicitor will recommend carrying out simply because of the geographical location of the property. Here we list the most common searches which are carried out in the course of a property purchase transaction: -

Local Authority Search

This is a list of questions asked of the Local Authority which will provide information relating to the property such as public charges, compulsory purchase orders, conservation areas, road adoption, the planning history of the property, tree preservation orders, whether the property is listed, building regulation approval and building control completion certificates, whether the property could potentially be affected by road widening schemes, new railway schemes and radon gas.In total 70 questions are asked.

Drainage and Water Search

The drainage search results will confirm whether the property is connected to the mains water supply and provide information about foul and surface water drainage from the property to a public sewer.

Environmental and Plan Search

This search contains information on Environmental factors such any landfill or waste disposal sites and risks from contaminated land, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence and whether there are any nearby development plans.

The Plan Search will provide details of planning permissions past or current within a 250m radius of the property you are to purchase.It is often assumed that the Local Search will reveal this information but this is not correct.

Flood Search

The Flood Search will contain details of whether the property is within an area subject to flooding which in turn could affect your insurance premiums or indeed the availablity of flood insurance at all.

Searches Which May Be required/Recommended for Individual Cases

Coal Mining Search

It is vital to carry our this search if property is located in a historical mining area.

HS2 Search

The government has recently announced the proposed route of the High Speed Railway Phase Two.This search provides vital proximity information in relation to your proposed property, such as the distance from the line

Commons Registration Search

We would recommend this be carried out if the property is located next to a village green or common or adjoining an unidentified piece of land, or if the property is either newly built or has yet to be built (i.e. off plan).

Company Search

If you are buying a property from a company, then a search at Companies House is usually necessary.The search will confirm that the company has the property authority to sell, or if a company is being wound up, which would prevent the company from entering into a contract to sell the property.

Chancel Repair Liability

Recommended for property in close proximity to churches.The rules and regulations on this historical search have changed since the 12th October 2013 where the Chancel repair liability will not be an overriding interest, therefore it will not bind the purchaser of land for a valuable consideration unless it been protected in the title register of the property by the Land Registry.

Brine Extraction Search

We would recommend this search be carried out if the property is located in Cheshire or Greater Manchester.

Tin Mining and Clay Mining Search

We would recommend these searches be carried out if the property is located in Devon or Cornwall.

Limestone Mining Search

We would recommend this search be carried out if the property is located in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton.

It is also recommended that a buyer should carry out a building survey. The surveyor will inform the Buyer on the condition of the building structure and provide aspects for legal consideration, which the Buyer can raise with their solicitor/conveyancer.

Energy Performance of the property – The seller has a legal duty to provide an Energy Performance Certificate in order to show the energy efficiency of the building and state any possible upgrades for better efficiency.

If you are looking to purchase a property, please do not hesitate to contact our expert property team free on 0808 1685 643 or email us on