Who Pays for Searches When Selling a House?

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<strong>Who Pays for Searches When Selling a House?</strong>
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There are many different stages involved with the process of selling a house. Some of them are more complicated than others, and may also require the assistance of professionals such as solicitors or estate agents.

It is common for you to worry about the process of searches when selling a house. You may be wondering: what exactly are searches, and who pays for them when selling a house?

Well, worry no more! In the blog below, we have provided an answer to all of these questions, so you always know exactly what happens throughout this part of the house selling process.

What are searches?

In most cases, ‘searches’ will be completed by the solicitor of whoever is buying the house – however, the searches you require will vary depending on the area you are purchasing in.

Searches inform a potential homeowner about aspects or issues with the property that they may otherwise not have known about. For example, the typical searches completed on a house will include the following things:

  • Environmental searches – covers matters such as pollution, subsidence and contaminated land
  • Water and drainage – to determine who supplies, owns and maintains the water and drainage supplies
  • Chancel searches – to check for chancel liability
  • Local authority searches – checking matters such as planning and highways

The house seller’s solicitor will usually complete a bankruptcy search on the buyer. If there is a bankruptcy in your past, it will not necessarily be an issue, but the lender must know about it.

Am I legally required to complete searches?

Searches are mandatory on a property when you are buying with a mortgage. This is because mortgage lenders require them.

While you can purchase a property with cash without paying for searches, it is strongly recommended that you complete searches, to prevent unwanted issues rearing their head after the purchase has been made.

Searches comes as part of the service that your solicitor/conveyancer provides. The average cost for a conveyancer in the UK (on either a residential purchase or a residential sale) is between £500 – £1000. In addition, you will have to pay legal costs, known as ‘disbursements’, which cover search fees, registration fees, documentation fees, land registry fees and CHAPS payment fees.

Why are searches carried out?

Searches are carried out so that you know every detail about the property you are buying. This ensures that you don’t encounter any nasty surprises after buying your house.

Who pays for searches when selling a house?

Searches are paid for by the potential property buyer. In most cases, you will pay your solicitor a fee up-front, and the cost of paying for searches will come out of this fee. Usually, paying your search deposit monies will cost approximately £250 – £300.

How do I understand the results of the searches?

Hiring a solicitor while buying a house makes your life significantly easier. One way in which a solicitor does this is by clearly explaining the results of any searches, so you understand exactly what they mean, and what implications they may have for you as a homeowner.

You should never be afraid to ask questions in this position, because it is ultimately your decision whether or not to buy the property. Make sure you clearly understand what is going on before you make a purchase.

How do I deal with problems found in the searches?

Even after you have paid to have searches completed by your solicitor, the process is not entirely over. Once the results come through, you may have to deal with any problems found in the searches.

It is the responsibility of your solicitor to inform you if the results of certain searches may be problematic. For example, some results may not technically/legally prevent you from purchasing the house, but may be a dealbreaker for you personally.

Some examples of search results which may be problematic includes:

  • Flooding risks or severe subsidence
  • A debt exists on the property (which may become your problem)
  • There is an ongoing dispute with a neighbour
  • Japanese Knotweed has been identified on the property
  • A new development may interfere with your property in the future

Depending on the issue that arises from your searches, each one must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. You may need an expert to remove Japanese Knotweed, for example, while other problems may not bother you at all.

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