Conveyancing searches (property searches)

When it comes to buying a property, before you exchange on it and therefore are legally bound to complete the transaction, your licensed conveyancer will endeavour to find out as much about it as possible. These enquiries are known as ‘searches’ and will hopefully paint a picture about the property itself, the land it lays on and anything close by that is likely to affect its value going forward.

What’s more, if you’re buying with the assistance of a mortgage your lender will instruct your conveyancing solicitor which searches they require before releasing your mortgage funds. This is to ensure that if, for whatever reason, the home becomes repossessed and they have to sell it on, that there a no unknown issues attached to the property.

Your conveyancer will carry out a number of searches, some of which may be location-specific, however, there are three main searches that are carried out as follows.

Local Authority searches

The main things you can expect to find out with this search are:

  • Planning issues
  • Building control issues
  • Highways issues
  • Pollution issues

Environmental searches

The main things you can expect to find out with this search are:

  • Flooding issues
  • Landslide issues
  • Subsidence issues
  • Contaminated land issues

Water and drainage searches

The main things you can expect to find out with this search are:

  • Who owns and maintains the sewers, drains & piping
  • If the property is connected to a public water supply and sewer
  • Whether the water supply is metered or rateable
  • The location of public sewer and drainage pipes
  • Whether you’ll need permission from the water company to extend the home

How long do conveyancing searches take to complete?

Before you can exchange contracts your property searches must be completed, therefore you’ll be keen for your conveyancer to complete these as quickly as possible. The bad news here is that it’s more a postcode lottery as to how quickly your local authority searches will be turned around. There are over 340 local authorities with different means of managing and communicating local searches, either electronically or via post, meaning you could be in for a long wait if it’s the latter.

Furthermore, it’s widely known that a local authority search can take a number of weeks as the teams running these departments can be severely understaffed and depending on the time of year you can also expect further delays due to holidays etc. Luckily your other searches such as environmental, water and drainage typically are turned around a lot quicker.

Are there any other searches I may need?

In addition to the standard searches, depending on the area surrounding the property you’re purchasing, you may also need additional searches including:

  • Flood risk report
  • Chancel repair liability search
  • Canal & river search
  • Commons registration search
  • Coal mining & brine search
  • Land registry pre-completion searches

Whatever journey your search enquiries takes you, you should rest assured that your licensed conveyancer will do their best to keep you updated and to know that any delays are out of their control. As long as you answer any questions as quickly as possible your transaction will move as quickly as possible.

If you’re looking to move or sell your property get your free conveyancing quote here.

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