A new search has shown to deliver greater insight and some real financial benefit to property buyers. DevAssist searches map and evaluate the future development risks and opportunities in a 75 metre radius of the property. The search has delivered impressive results for property buyers by unleashing hidden cash value in a property and by preventing devaluation of a buyer’s investment.
Unleashing hidden cash value in a property
One recent search has led to four property owners each looking to gain a £15,000 windfall. DevAssist’s investigation into the purchase of a three-bedroom semi-detached house from the 1930s revealed that the neighbouring property had a planning history for eight new detached and semi-detached houses. Construction had not yet started.
After instructions from the buyer’s solicitor DevAssist was able to provide copies of the consented plans. DevAssist also recommended that the solicitor obtain copies of the title to the neighbouring land. This showed that the land was subject to an option in favour of the developer. It was also discovered that the neighbouring land was subject to a restrictive covenant which the solicitor’s client and three other neighbours were beneficiaries of.
The covenant was so strong that it gave the option of either blocking the development, in spite of the consent to build, or negotiating with the builder and his insurer for a deed of release. The four landowners opted to negotiate for a deed of release, and the solicitor who now acts for them all expects a settlement of £15,000 per client.
The result of the search was that the property buyer and neighbours gained a windfall, and the solicitor gained three new clients as well as additional business in negotiating with the developer and his insurers for the deed of release.
Preventing devaluation of a buyer’s investment
DevAssist searches can also help buyer and their solicitors in weighing up the development risk damage on a property purchase.
Jeremy Jupp, Head of Conveyancing at Morrisons Solicitors LLP
in Surrey, comments, “It is a great benefit to our clients to be able to access a clear assessment of the development risk in the vicinity of a property being purchased”.
He continues, “A property purchase is the biggest investment most people are likely to make in their entire lives and is often based on a single or perhaps two brief viewings. At Morrisons Solicitors we believe it is essential that our clients are provided with as much information about the property they are purchasing as possible. The DevAssist Report provides a unique insight in to what might happen in the future, in addition to details of existing planning applications that have been submitted”.
“The DevAssist searches are helping us add value to the standard searches that are undertaken and provide clients with enhanced information so that they can make a more informed decision about the property they are looking to purchase. We’ve made the DevAssist searches standard on all our residential property purchase cases. Many buyers think that the “Local Search” will provide information about planning applications that have been submitted in the local area, but it does not. A report that provides information, not only about existing planning applications, but also a professional opinion on the potential for future development in the vicinity of a property is a hugely valuable resource to the purchaser client. Providing the DevAssist report ensures that our clients proceed with a purchase with their eyes wide open and this fits with our ethos of providing a first class service and fully supporting our clients’ needs.”
In one case an elderly couple were looking to buy a house at around £600,000. The DevAssist search uncovered two planning applications on neighbouring properties. One was for a block of 24 flats which had been withdrawn by the applicant. The other application was for a single dwelling which had been refused.
The history of planning here was unresolved and the DevAssist team felt that it was only a matter of time before an application was acceptable to the local authority and permitted. As there was a clear risk of development on neighbouring land and the issues that would arise as a result the buyers decided that they no longer wished to proceed with the purchase. They have since found a property with no development risks.
The two searches provided by DevAssist, which are DevAssess and DevCheck, include detailed mapping clearly showing where development might happen in a 75m radius of the property. They also include a guide on the potential density of homes in the given acreage where development potential is identified. To save Solicitors additional fees and times, they include a detailed Plansearch Plus report from Landmark or a GroundSure Planning Report exposing recent and current planning applications. Prices for the DevAssist reports start from just £45+VAT.
Jeremy Jupp of Morrisons concludes that:
“When you consider financial investment in a property purchase and what is potentially at stake if development risk in the vicinity isn’t identified, this is a very small price to pay. Development may not always have a direct impact on the value of a property but if a view or privacy is spoilt that can have a serious impact on a client’s day to day enjoyment of the property they purchase.”
DevAssist is fully PCCB and COPSO compliant. For a sample report or for more information please contact the DevAssist team on 01293 897117 or visit www.dev-assist.co.uk