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Who Pays for Searches When Selling a House? The Buyer!

There are many aspects to consider when selling a property. Some are certainly more exciting than others, but an understanding of all parts is needed to ensure a smooth transaction. One factor buyers and sellers don’t immediately think about is property searches. They’re a vital part of the process, but who pays for them? The buyer or the seller? That’s the purpose of this guide, which looks at who pays for searches when selling a house. 

What are property searches?

Before we delve into who pays, let’s quickly cover what property searches entail. Property searches, also known as conveyancing searches, are enquiries made to various authorities for information about a property someone is looking to buy. 

These searches provide essential details that aren’t readily available without a thorough search and include the property’s planning history, potential environmental issues or even details about who maintains the roads surrounding the property.

There are several types of property searches, including:

  • Local authority searches
  • Environmental searches
  • Water and drainage searches. 

Each of these provides a different piece of the puzzle about a home’s history and potential future issues. For instance, a local authority search might reveal if the lovely park next to the property is slated for development, while an environmental search could highlight if the home is at risk of flooding.

Who pays for property searches?

So, who foots the bill for these important searches? In the vast majority of property transactions, it’s the buyer who pays for these searches. The reasoning behind this is fairly straightforward. The buyer is the one investing a significant amount of money into a new home, and they’re the ones who will have to live with any issues that might be uncovered. 

These searches, therefore, provide the buyer with the assurance they need that there aren’t any hidden problems or potential future complications with the property they’re interested in purchasing.

There can be exceptions to this general rule, however. In certain situations, a seller might choose to conduct and pay for some or all of these searches themselves. Why would they do this, you ask?

It’s usually done with the intention of speeding up the selling process. Having these search results ready to hand over to potential buyers can help to eliminate potential delays further down the line. This can be particularly beneficial in a competitive market, where buyers may be looking for homes that can offer a quick and hassle-free transaction.

That being said, it’s not common practice and isn’t something that buyers should expect when entering the property market. As such, it’s crucial for buyers to factor the cost of these property searches into their budget when planning to purchase a home. 

The seller’s role in property searches

While the seller isn’t generally the party conducting or paying for the searches, it doesn’t mean they’re completely removed from this process. Quite the contrary because sellers have a vital role to play in the information exchange during a property transaction. 

One of the ways they contribute is by providing a wealth of details about the property to the buyer. This is typically compiled in a document bundle commonly referred to as a “Seller’s Pack”, which is crucial to the transaction process. 

What does the Seller’s Pack contain?

It contains a variety of documents, such as the Energy Performance Certificate, which provides details about the energy efficiency of the property. This certificate gives the buyer an idea of how much it might cost to heat and power the home, as well as what carbon dioxide emissions to expect. It’s a key piece of information that could affect a buyer’s decision.

In addition, the Seller’s Pack also includes important details about the property’s boundaries. This can be particularly important in preventing future disputes with neighbours. The pack should clearly define where the property begins and ends. It might also include any rights of way or easements that could affect the property.

Disputes, too, are a crucial component of the Seller’s Pack. If there have been any past disputes regarding the property – whether they’re related to boundaries, noise or something else – these should be included in the pack. The same goes for any ongoing disputes. Buyers have a right to know what they’re walking into – full transparency from the seller is crucial in facilitating a smooth transaction.

Seller worried about what the searches will uncover?

If the seller suspects there is something wrong with the property they might feel worries that the sale will fall through after the searches uncover some dark secrets. But it’s not the end of the world. For most issues found through searches, the matter can be resolved by reducing the price for the buyer, or by the buyer taking out relatively affordable indemnity insurance.  Failing that, sellers can always just sell directly to us. We will buy any home, in any condition, with any problem. Get a cash offer for your home now.

Costs involved in property searches

Property searches aren’t free and can add up. The price of each search varies and is a necessary part of the home-buying process. Costs include:

  • Base cost for standard searches. The price for a standard set of searches can vary, but as a rough guide, you can usually expect to pay between £200 and £300. It would typically include local authority searches, environmental searches and water and drainage searches.
  • Location-specific costs. The cost can also depend on the location of the property. Some areas might require specific searches due to regional issues, geographical features or administrative complexities. These additional searches would be over and above the standard set and would therefore add to the overall cost.
  • Complexity of searches. The complexity of the searches needed can also impact the cost. For example, a property in an area with historical mining activity might require a mining search, which would be an additional cost to the buyer.

These are estimated costs, with actual costs often varied. Buyers should budget for these potential costs when planning to buy a property to avoid any unwelcome surprises. Fortunately, if you’re a seller, it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about them. 

How do property searches affect the buying process?

Property searches are more than just a box to check in the buying process. The results can have a real impact on how the transaction proceeds. For instance, if a search uncovers that a property is at risk of flooding, it could affect the buyer’s mortgage terms or even cause the buyer to reconsider the purchase. On the other hand, a clean bill of health from the searches can provide peace of mind and pave the way for a smooth transaction.

Another aspect of searches that can affect the property price is the time to do the searches. Local authority searches can take a long time, depending on the local council doing the searches. Here’s a post that discusses search times and lists local authority processing times. Excessive search times can make properties in the area undesirable for buyers who want things to move at pace.

Tips for buyers and sellers

Tips for Sellers

  • Provide thorough and accurate information. As a seller, it’s in your best interest to provide comprehensive and accurate information about your property. This can help to speed up the selling process and prevent any potential roadblocks down the line.
  • Importance of the Seller’s Pack. Prepare a detailed Seller’s Pack that includes all the necessary documents like the Energy Performance Certificate and information about boundaries and any disputes. This pack can provide potential buyers with a wealth of information about the property, potentially speeding up the decision-making process.
  • Impact of search results on the sale. While sellers are not typically responsible for conducting or paying for the searches, remember that the results can greatly influence the buyer’s decision. Any issues uncovered could lead to negotiations on price, delay the sale, or even cause the sale to fall through. It’s important to be prepared for these possibilities and work with your estate agent or solicitor to navigate any challenges that arise.

Tips for Buyers

  • Budgeting for search costs. It’s absolutely crucial to factor in the cost of property searches when planning your budget for purchasing a home. These costs can be considerable and getting hit with an unexpected bill can be a real downer during what should be an exciting time.
  • Understanding the results. Once the searches have been conducted, it’s equally important to take the time to thoroughly understand the results. Consider seeking advice from a property professional or solicitor if there’s anything you’re unsure about.
  • Impact on property value and enjoyment. If a search uncovers any potential issues, such as a risk of flooding or a future development plan in the area, you’ll need to take into account how this could affect both the property’s value and your enjoyment of it. It’s worth seeking professional advice to understand the implications fully.

Understanding property searches

Property searches are a key part of buying a house, and it’s usually the buyer who covers the cost. However, both buyers and sellers have important roles to play in the process.

 If you don’t particularly want to wait around and would prefer a quick sale without relying on a traditional buyer, get a free, no-obligation quote from Property Rescue. We can buy your home, fast! 


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