What it Does
It is supposed to protect you from any unpleasant surprises by checking up on any plans that may affect the home you’re buying, for example, that you’re not going to have an all night delivery super-depot built next door etc.
It also checks on any possible property developments which may affect you, as well as changes to land use or public rights of way.
The Search should also warn you about any extra planning restrictions that might be in line eg your home being put into a new conservation area.
How Long Does it Take?
The Search can take anything from a couple of days to several weeks – depending on the local authority.
The average is about two weeks.
The a local authority search will cost you between £100 and £200 – up to £250 in London – depending on the authority involved.
Sometimes the Local Authority may not hold all the required information, such as coal or tin mining records or where the sewers are.
The conveyancer then has to search the records of the relevant utility.
Watch out for
How wide an area does the search cover (“What do you mean you only checked the immediate vicinity. The new hypermarket is only 100 yards away”).
It may be worth you checking directly with the planning authority of the local council just to make sure that everything has been picked up.
Get a map and have a look at the surrounding area yourself. Look for railway lines, sewage works etc.
The search will be out of date relatively soon. If the housebuying process takes a few months there may have been new planning proposals made in the interim. If so you should consider doing a new search.
You may also want an additional environmental search carried out particularly in the light of the new nationwide flooding problems.
Checking the Area Yourself
The internet has made available a wealth of information on all the different factors affecting each area of the UK.
A lot of this is marketing information that previously was only available to commercial companies planning their sales campaigns etc.
However now you can get a picture of the area you’re thinking about living in. For example, details on schools, health, crime, social conditions, services, facilities and much more.
(If you want to us to send you a guide to the various ways you can do this click here) .
An up and coming area won’t necessarily be identifiable from these reports.
These can be seen by the number of trendy type shops that are setting up and doing well, the number of renovations going on (look for skips) and the flashy new company cars owned by the young salary slaves who’ve decided to the area is up and coming.
Once they arrive it tends to be a self fulfilling prophecy – but not always. As Martin Amis made clear, in his classic, Money, “slums bite back”.
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