20 things search data can reveal about the UK property market

Ordering searches is business as usual for property teams as they perform their due diligence and progress transactions to completion, yet the data their reports draw upon can tell us so much more.

Here Groundsure take an in-depth look at available search data and reveal 20 facts you probably didn’t already know about the UK property market – including just how many properties are within 1km of the HS2 development.

1. There are 560,677 dwellings within the UK that have a ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ level of flooding from rivers and seas – and 10.25% of these may experience difficulties obtaining flood insurance for their property.  

2. Landowner permission is no longer required if oil and gas drilling takes place below 300m.

3. Towns ending in “wych” or “wich” tend to be associated with salt: Droitwich in Worcestershire, as well as Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich and Leftwich in Cheshire are all known for their salt production.

4. Only approximately 259 postcodes in England fall within both the CON29M Coal Reporting Area and the Cheshire Brine Compensation Area.

5. 2,433,869 properties are within 1km of the HS2 development and every mile of track costs £403m!

6. The average insurance claim for a flood event is £28,000 yet only 6% of homeowners take steps to protect their property. By comparison, the average fire claim is £7,300 and 80% of homeowners protect against it, whilst the average claim for burglary is £1,000 and 54% of homeowners take precautionary steps. 

7. A Facebook photo once rumbled a false claim on a TA6 Property Information Form!

In 2012, the garden of a property in Newcastle flooded. In 2014, a couple purchased the property for £750,000. When they received the TA6 Property Information Form, which is completed by the seller, question 7 “Has any part of the property (whether buildings or surrounding garden or land) ever been flooded?” the sellers had answered “No”. The purchase successfully completed and the new owners moved into the property. In 2015, the garden then flooded twice, as did the basement of the property. The new owners then pursued legal against their vendors for “rescission on the sale contract” and to support their claim, discovered a photograph on their vendors Facebook page from July 2012 showing the back garden flooded. Whilst it is extremely rare to use the TA6 form as evidence, this goes to show that if a dedicated flood or environmental search had been purchased, the purchasers would have been fully aware that their property was at an incredibly localised flood risk. 

8. The average cost of cleaning up contaminated land is £250,000 per acre, meaning the average contaminated household plot would cost £15,000.

9. It wasn’t until 2000 that a CON29M report became a mandatory search undertaken by solicitors when acting for clients purchasing properties in former coal mining areas. 

10. 600 datasets amassing over 16 terabytes (yes, terabytes!) of data power the full suite of Groundsure reports and help conveyancers better inform their clients about environmental risks – including data on contaminated land, flooding, ground stability, current and historical land use, and transportation.

11. It wasn’t until 2000 when the introduction of Part 2A legislation came into effect, followed quickly by the 2001 Warning Cards, that it was recommended that conveyancers screen against contaminated land risk in order to perform their due diligence. The Flood Practice Note of 2013 and the Contaminated Land Practice Note of 2014 further cemented the need for environmental searches in land and property transactions.

12. In 2018, there was a 400% increase (versus 2017) in insurance claims due to natural ground subsidence. This is thought to be mainly due to the long hot and very dry summer – and not because of several million people jumping up and down when England finally won a penalty shootout.

13. 11% of the UK is either licensed or offered for oil and gas exploration.

14. Around 619,000 hectares of land in England and Wales were formerly covered by a wide range of industrial uses. 

15. Around 1.2 billion journeys are made on the London Underground each year and 55% of the network is above ground.

16. The biggest cause of natural ground subsidence insurance claims is due to shrink-swell clay soils as they expand and contract due to moisture changes.

17. 11% of the UK is occupied by the coalfield – with over 7 million properties within this area.

18. Groundsure holds a collection of over 3 million Historical Land Use records derived from OS Mapping, dating from as early as the 1840s. 

19. There are 7,781 onshore turbines in 1,991 projects in the UK.

20. An average fracking site is around 2ha in size, compared to 1,450ha for a wind farm, and 924ha for a solar farm.

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