Choosing the right environmental report

There are a plethora of residential environmental searches on the market for conveyancers to choose from, with regular new additions and enhancements to existing reports.  

Although, on the surface, many environmental searches can look and sound as if they are the same, environmental searches can differ dramatically so it’s worth conveyancers regularly reviewing that they are purchasing the most suitable reports for their clients.

It's not all about price 

Although some residential environmental reports may seem expensive compared to others, and maybe not the best choice in terms of passing on the cost to your home buying clients, it’s definitely worth looking at the detail behind the price. Some of the newer Combined Risk searches offer a more comprehensive analysis of potential risk and are more thorough in their initial assessments. This means less confusion about initial results, fewer delays and a reduction in further actions. Combined Risk searches also use a polygon approach to determine a property-specific risk assessment. This brings several advantages – see section on point and polygon searches below.

Flood searches – screening or full flood assessment

The risk of flood is already well-documented with approximately 1 in 6 properties at risk of flooding and a cost of £1.4 billion in cleaning-up and repair costs every year. Residential environmental searches can include either a risk screening or a full flood assessment. A screening is computer-driven and is generally not scrutinised for accuracy, meaning that flood risk can be overexaggerated and lead to potential delays and extra costs. A full flood assessment, on the other hand includes a consultant review, providing greater accuracy and fewer further actions. A full flood assessment can be found in either a standalone flood report, Combined Risk report such as Landmark Riskview Residential or Groundsure Avista or in Groundsure Homebuyers.

The importance of planning data

As the government commits to higher targets for house building, assessing the likelihood of further development in the proximity to a property is becoming a more and more important part of the conveyancing process. A planned development in the area could make it less attractive to buyers leading to a decrease in house prices. As with flood data, residential environmental reports vary in the quality of planning data they include and analyse. For fuller information and a more realistic view of development, it’s worth considering the new Landmark Planning report and the RiskView Residential report. These searches incorporate large planning applications as polygons rather than points, which means the analysis is a lot clearer, cutting down on the time required to interpret the data. This is because conveyancers and home buyers can instantly see the size of the proposed development. Full planning information is also available in the Groundsure Avista report.

Are you using point or polygon searches?

It’s important to distinguish between point and polygon searches as the representation of the desired property depends on the approach used for property identification. A polygon search will provide an exact representation of the property and any land based on the title plan, whereas a point search will analyse the area within a 25 metre buffer (50 metre diameter) from the central point or other specified point on the property. This means that there are a number of drawbacks to point searches (i) the area searched is usually wider than the property boundary, leading to possible identification of risk that are not within the boundary, and; (ii) depending on the shape of the boundary, certain areas of the property / land may not be searched (this is particularly true of elongated properties), and can mean that potential risks are missed. In both cases this can lead to unnecessary delays and issues. Using a polygon search such as Groundsure Avista or Landmark RiskView Residential ensures greater accuracy for a property-specific risk assessment.

If you would like a review of your residential or commercial search reports, please speak to your Geodesys Account Manager or contact us.  A review often results in us being able to customise our service and search packs to better meet your team’s needs.