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One of the first steps to buying a house after your offer has been accepted is to order searches on the property.

If you’re not sure what house buying searches are, we’ll explain in this article:

  • What they are
  • Why they’re important
  • Whether you need to purchase them
What Are House Buying Searches?

House buying searches are checks carried out on a property before you buy it. They usually cost a couple of hundred pounds (approx. £200-300) and can provide highly valuable information about the property.

For example, searches can tell you, and your lender, if the house:

  • Sits on a floodplain and regularly floods
  • Has any debts that you’ll take over when you buy it
  • Sits on top of a mineshaft which, if it collapses, could cause severe damage to the property
  • Is in an area where a new road, train line, housing estate, wind farm or other types of development will be built
  • Sits on contaminated land from being previously owned by an industrial site – which can include things like asbestos, solvents, gases or arsenic

You’ll normally have to pay for searches shortly after your offer has been formally accepted and you’ve instructed your solicitor to commence work.

What Are the Most Common Searches That Need to Be Done?

There are three main searches your solicitor will order for you when you buy a house:

  1. Local authority searches
  2. Environmental searches
  3. Water and drainage searches

Local authority searches will check the following for issues:

  • Planning
  • Building control
  • Highways
  • Pollution

Environmental searches will check for issues related to:

  • Flooding
  • Landslides
  • Subsidence
  • Contaminated land

Water and drainage searches will check things like:

  • Who owns and maintains the nearby sewers and drains
  • Whether the property is connected to a water supply and sewer
  • If the water supply is on a meter or not
  • Where the public sewers, drains and pipes are on the property
  • If you’ll need permission from a water company to extend the property
Are Searches Necessary When Buying a House?

If you’re buying a property with a mortgage, the lender will almost always require you to pay for searches on the property.

This is because they need to know how much the property is worth and what issues they may be liable to pay for if they repossess it in the future (if you don’t keep up with your mortgage payments).

However, if you’re buying in cash, you don’t legally have to pay for searches, unless you want to.

But remember, there are still benefits to ordering searches when you’re a cash buyer. They are much more in-depth than a homebuyer’s survey and can provide a detailed picture of what risks there are in buying the property.


Generally, you’ll always need to pay for searches when buying a property with a mortgage. If you buy a property with cash, it’s usually your decision whether you pay for searches, but it’s important to remember that not paying for them can cause significant risk and issue later down the line.

If you’re considering buying a property in Chelsfield and want advice about the process, our friendly team of agents at Langford Rae Property Agents are happy to help.

Give us a call today on 01689862770 or email us at to start the conversation.