I'm a cash buyer, do I need to have searches carried out?

I'm buying a small cottage and I don't need a mortgage, do I still need to have searches carried out?

Question: I'm buying a small cottage as an investment property, and I am a cash buyer. As I don't need a mortgage, am I right in thinking I don't need to have any searches carried out?

Answer: The requirements of the Council of Mortgage Lenders' Handbook will not apply because you are not borrowing any money, so it is entirely up to you whether any searches are undertaken. However, you may have heard of "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware" - it is up to you, the buyer, to make sure of your bargain before you enter into a binding contract.

Generally, the seller is not bound to provide information about any physical defects the property may have, so it is prudent for a buyer to have a survey, and for their solicitor to carry out pre-contract enquiries and searches.

The most common searches are a local search, a drainage and water search, an environmental search and a chancel repair search. Depending on location, other searches, such as for coal or stone mining, may be relevant. It is sensible to have at least a local search to reveal any planning, building regulations or listed building consents, tree preservation orders, road or rail schemes, plus any infringement of any consents or any other notices affecting the property.

If you wish to sell the cottage in the future, any buyer with a mortgage will need searches carried out, and if you wish at some stage to remortgage, some lenders will require relevant searches. It is therefore advisable to have them done now so that any issues that come up can be resolved with your seller before exchange of contracts.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

What's your problem?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (www.withyking.co.uk).

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor. 


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