Why are Enquiries made during a property purchase?

7th February 2021

Why are Property enquiries made during a property purchase?

Making a property purchase is probably the largest financial transaction most of us will make.

When you are interested in a property and go to see it you will find the answers to many of the questions you have about it just by looking at it and talking to the owners.

At present (due to Covid), it is not always possible to view a property in person due to Covid.

Whether the property can be viewed or not, it is really important that information about the property is gathered from as many sources as necessary to ensure you know what you are buying and the risks involved.

You may want to know where you would park your car, what type of tiles is on the roof, whether it has central heating and what the windows are like.

The Seller and your estate agent will try to answer as many questions as possible about the property and you shouldn’t put in an offer if you are not entirely satisfied with their responses. However, before the transaction progresses any further you really need to know much more before you can make an informed decision as to whether to proceed.

A number of surveys, searches and enquiries are made and are considered along with reports provided by the Seller and the Land Registry.

Surveyors Report and Property Search Reports

Your Mortgage Lender will also need more detailed information as they won’t want to risk lending money for a property that is adverse to their interests, for instance the property is not in good condition, uninhabitable or is over-valued.

This detailed information is provided in a Surveyors Report and Property Search Reports.

Most (non-cash) buyers have a survey conducted on the prospective property by a Surveyor and this provides lots of information which will allow you and your Lender to make the decision to continue with your plans to buy.

Property Search Reports provide valuable information for you and your Lender. For most purchases which are bought with the help of a mortgage the Lender will want the Buyer to have these searches carried out.

Property Search Reports cover Local Authority searches and environment and infrastructure searches (which can include mining, flood and water searches and any other searches that are recommended for your property or requested by your Lender).

After making the searches we will know facts about the property you intend to buy, for example, has been built on a former landfill site, whether anyone has a right of access across your property, where the water and sewerage pipes are and how likely it is to flood and anything else that affects the property.

Enquiries and Further Enquiries

Your Conveyancer will consider the property further on your behalf by raising Enquiries with your Sellers Conveyancer. These Enquiries are raised early in the conveyancing process after the contract paperwork is received from the Sellers solicitors.

Initially the enquiries are contained in a standard form (supplied by the Law Society) which is sent to the Sellers solicitors and completed by the seller.

One the replies are received more specific enquiries can be raised if there are any points that warrants more information and these are known as ‘further enquiries’.

What type of questions are asked in our property enquiries?

  • Are the nearby trees causing foundation issues?
  • Have there been any issues with subsidence?
  • Has the property ever suffered from flooding?
  • Did the Seller comply with the covenants in the title?
  • What is the agreement over car parking when facilities are shared?
  • How old is the boiler, who installed it and is there a warranty?
  • Has the boiler been maintained?
  • When were the windows installed and who by? Are they covered by a FENSA guarantee?
  • What are the arrangements concerning the solar panels fixed on the roof?
  • Have there been any neighbour disputes?
  • Were all consents and permissions obtained for the construction of the porch (or additions to the original property)?
  • When the gas safety was last checked?
  • Who is responsible for fences or walls forming the boundaries of the property?

Enquiries deal with facts and not opinions and should be responded to fully and satisfactorily by the Sellers and their conveyancer.

The Sellers conveyancer does not need to respond to any enquiries which do not relate to the property being sold.

Generally, this process between the two sets of conveyancers, takes between 1-4 weeks and it is at this point that both Buyer and Seller usually want the process to move more quickly, but being patient is worthwhile as an extra week or two at this stage could save a major headache and expense in the future for the Buyer.

There can be reasons for delay at this point in the transaction as Enquiries and the Replies to Enquiries can be held up by the complexity of a transaction, or if the Seller goes on holiday, or is ill.

Report on Title

After your conveyancer receives all the replies to their enquiries and has all the information required about the property a written Report on Title is issued to you and you should read this report carefully. This report summarises all the information and highlights any issues that should be considered before proceeding.  The Buyer may wish to investigate any issues raised before going through with the purchase.

For instance, if the boundaries of the property are unclear your solicitor will explain their concerns and advise in their Report on Title that the Buyer should check the boundaries. Only the Buyer will be able to check the boundaries of the property to their own satisfaction. It is not the job of your Solicitor  or conveyancer to physically go out  to check the boundaries. If the Buyer can’t establish the boundaries which are unclear they may engage the help of a Surveyor to help them to do this.

For more frequently asked questions about conveyancing please see here: https://www.hannayslaw.co.uk/faq.html

We hope that this short article has assisted with the more frequent queries regarding enquiries, but if you are purchasing a property and need any further advice on the process of buying a house or a seller requiring assistance to complete the enquiries forms please don’t hesitate to contact your conveyancer on 0191 4555361 or email info@hannayslaw.co.uk