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What Are House Buying Searches?

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:

Local authority searches

Environmental searches

Water and drainage searches

Local authority searches will check the following for issues:


Building control



Environmental searches will check for issues related to:




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 and want advice about the process, our friendly team of agents at WPR are happy to help.

Give us a call today or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to start the conversation.


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