What are Property Searches? Buying a Property Conveyancing Searches

Property Searches (often known as Conveyancing Searches) are carried out by a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer, as part of the home buying process. The searches provide information about the home / property that you are looking to purchase, as well as information on the area surrounding the property.

What type of information do the Property Searches provide to YOU and your Conveyancing Solicitor?

The searches are a combination of information provided from the local authority (of where the property is being purchased), local water authorities and expert third party companies that can provide detailed information on things such as the quality of the ground the property is built on, flood risks, planning permission or future developments that may affect the value of your property, down to common drainage, rights of way and access rights.

Requests are submitted to the various companies to supply this information to your conveyancer in various reports, so that they, you and your lender understand what exactly your are buying for the money.

Is it a legal requirement to have Property Searches conducted when Buying a Property?

Cash Buyers - It is NOT a Legal Requirement

Whilst it is not a legal requirement, it is highly recommeneded that searches are carried out on any potential property purchase. If you are purchasing a property without a mortgage (cash buyer), then you will have a choice on whether to conduct these searches, but at your own risk!

Borrowing Money for a Property from a Lender in the form or a Loan or Mortgage - YOU are obligated to perform Conveyancing Searches

If you are purchasing with a mortgage, loan or help of any lender, you do not have so much freedom or choice in the matter. Lenders, banks and building societies, want to protect their investments and minimise any potential risks and will insist upon a full set of conveyancing property searches being carried out on any property they are looking to lend money for OR fund to purchase.

In the past some lenders and mortgage companies, accepted indemnity insurance policies in place of property searches. This is no longer the case and almost every lender will insist on a key set of property searches for any property purchase.

How long do Conveyancing Property Searches take?

There are hundreds of local authorities and councils in the UK that conduct the local authority search part of your conveyancing searches required. As every local authority works differently and controls their own workload, staff and systems, it can really vary the time taken to return results back to your conveyancer. Some local authorities have electronic and online systems, with hundreds of staff, whilst others have very small teams working within the Land Charges department and operate offline systems and sometimes results being delivered via post.

We have seen some local authority searches delivered in as little as 48 hours, whilst others have taken weeks to return the results!

If you find a conveyancing solicitor through The Conveyancing Network to handle your purchase, you can be safe in the mind that with most of our conveyancing solicitors, the required searches and your premier conveyancing search pack are ordered at the point of instructing your solicitor, which can then help to speed up the time taken to get yo exchange of contracts and then complete your purchase.

What Residential Conveyancing Property Searches do YOU need when Buying a House or Flat?

Quite often the your lender and the location of the property you are looking to purchase, will determine the conveyancing searches required, however there are key searches and information that should be obtained by your solicitor on almost any purchase. These are:

1. Local Authority Search (LAS)

A Local Authority Search will provide detailed information about the property itself and the surrounding area. There are 2 parts to the Local Authority Search or LAS. These are LLC1 results and a CON29 result. The LLC1 will tell you if the property:

  • is located in a Conservation Area
  • is located within a Tree Preservation Order Area
  • is a Listed Building
  • needs a Renovation or Improvement Grant
  • is at risk of any Future Development Plans

the CON29 provides information and results things such as:

  • Contaminated Land Surorunding the Property
  • Building Regulations
  • Restrictions on Permitted Development
  • Exposure to Radon Gas
  • Building Control History
  • Nearby Road and Traffic Schemes

Every mortgage lender will insist on a Local Authority Search. Most mortgage lenders these days are happy to receive something known as Personal Searches, whilst a few will insist on a more costly Official Searches known as a CON29R.

What is the difference between Personal Searches and Official Searches?

Official Searches are compiled and produced by the local authority OR council. These contain a lot of detailed informaton about your property, but can often be slow to be returned to your solicitor and can cost up to £280 for just this search!

Personal Searches are provided by a search company. It will contain most of the information in an official search, but it can be compiled from local authority information by anyone. This results in a lower cost to produce and hence the cost savings can be passed on to you the client.

Remember: Official or Personal Searches are both underwritten by an insurance and you are fully indemnified. If there was incorrect or inaccurate information about your property, YOU are covered!

2. Water & Drainage Searches

Information from the local water authority where the property is situated in, forms the basis of a Water and Drainage Search. Information on sewers, drains and pipework, along with confirmation on responsibility for these utilities is also provided. A boundary for the property will be identified, along with any information pertaining to the public sewers (location and distance), whether the property is connected to mains water and drainage and whether there is any sewer running in to the bounds of the property.

Again an official water search, will show up more information than a personal water search, but both are indemnified and once again you are covered.

3. Environmental Searches

The Environmental Searches will provide information and historical data regarding the land on which your property is built and ther surrounding land within a 500m radius. The searches will show things such as:

  • Landslides & Slippage
  • Subsidence
  • Contamination & Pollution
  • The Risk of Flooding from Nearby Rivers, Seas & Waterways
  • Landfills and Nearby Waste Sites

These 3 searches form the required searchs imposed and insisted by most mortgage lenders, however additional searches are often required dependent on the location of your property.

Location Dependent Searches - Additional Property Searches

Mining and Mineral Extraction

A detailed mining or mineral extraction search is carried out, if the property is situated within an area that shows historically mining took place. Mining took place in the UK for minerals and fossil fuels such as tin, coal, lead etc. and this search will report on the ground stability and whether these mining and mineral extractions have impacted the area.

Chancel Repair Liability

Laws dating back to the 4th century may still impact your potential property purchase in the 21st century. Ancient laws that saw churches rely upon offerings from the local community to mantain the church and parishes is known as Chancel Repair.

In October 2013, church councils were asked to identify and register any land that they knew would invoke any chancel repair liability. This information is know kept by the HM Land Registry and a Chancel Repair Liability Search, will flag and identify if your property is at risk of having to make payments to the local church to pay for it's upkeep.

Conveyancing Searches Included in our Premier Conveyancing Search Pack - We have your Property Purchase Covered

When you instruct a conveyancing solicitor using The Conveyancing Network or any of our partner websites, we will provide you with a Premier Conveyancing Search Pack. Our premier conveyancing search pack covers property purchases in England, Wales & Northern Ireland and contains some of the latest searches, information and data for you and your solicitor to make informed decisions on your new house or property. Our search pack includes:

  • Personal Regulated Local Authority Search
  • Personal Regulated Water & Drainage Report
  • Groundsure Avista - A detailed and comprehensive Environmental Report covering Contaminated Land, Flood Risk, Radon Exposure, Transportation (Roads, Highways), Energy and Planning Applications.
  • TerraSearch Assure - A present and historic risk report of any Mining Activity and Mineral Extraction

This pack is very comprehsnive and has your purchase covered for as little as £235! Compare conveyancing quotes online now. Save yourself time and money and know you've got the best search products for your property purchase.

If you have any questions about Conveyancing Searches, please feel free to contact our knowledgeable team on 0203 637 2219 and we will be happy to advise and talk you through your conveyancing and property search requirements.