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How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Emma Lunn

Written by Reviewed by Jonathan Rolande

3rd Aug 2021 (Last updated on 2nd Apr 2024) 7 minute read

Conveyancing searches take between 2-6 weeks on average. They are arranged by your conveyancing solicitor and provide essential information on the property and the area. This can include, but is not limited to, flood risks and radon gas levels.

On average, it takes a minimum of 2 months from the searches being requested to the completion of the transaction. Ideally, your solicitor will begin the searches as soon as instructed. This means the reports sent from the various authorities will arrive about the same time so the purchase can proceed.

In this guide, we’ll take you through how long each search takes on average to complete. We’ll also delve into what can cause delays and tips to speed up the process.

  1. Complete List of Searches When Buying a Home
  2. How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?
  3. How Long After Searches to Exchange?
  4. What are Pre-Contract Enquiries?
  5. What are Some Causes of Delays Between Searches to Completion?
  6. Finding a Conveyancer

Complete List of Searches When Buying a Home

Conveyancing searches, also known as property searches, look at potential risks that can impact the value of the property. They are carried out by the respective relevant authorities depending on the service and location.

Some searches are not a legal requirement, but your solicitor may advise that they are carried out to avoid issues further down the line. This includes surface flooding and subsidence. Your conveyancer will arrange all searches on your behalf meaning you don’t have to do anything. However, it is best to read through the paperwork and raise any concerns you may have with your solicitor.

Here are the main conveyancing searches and the average working days it will take to complete:

Local Authority Searches - 2-6 weeks

Local Authority Searches are compiled by the local council and are split into two parts: LLC1 and CON29. The report provides information on the planning history for the property and the area. This includes whether the relevant planning applications and consent were obtained correctly.

Environmental Searches - 2-3 weeks

Environmental Searches use data held by the Environmental Protection Agency. It looks at the risk of flooding, subsidence, and contaminated land. They will also consider wind turbines, gas hazards, and landfill sites. The property will either pass or fail environmental searches. If a property fails the search, it can be difficult to get a mortgage.

Water and Drainage Searches - 10-14 days

Water and Drainage Searches are put together by the Local Water Authority, depending on the property location. It will determine whether the property has access to the public water supplies. The search will also confirm whether the property relies on private and public sewer systems. It is important to note that if the property has a private drainage system, the owner is responsible for the maintenance.

Land Registry Searches - 1-2 days

The Land Registry Search checks the Title Register and Title Plan with the Land Registry. This confirms that the seller currently owns the property and takes place just before the completion date. Once this information has been confirmed, your conveyancer will submit a TR1 Form. This will transfer the whole ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.

Your conveyancer will carry out an initial Register View and apply for official copies of the Title Register and Title Plan.

Chancel Repair Liability Search - 5-10 days

The Chancel Repair Liability Search is carried out to determine whether a property is liable for chancel repairs. This refers to reparation costs for the local church. Your conveyancer will arrange an initial chancel check which will determine whether the property sits on parish land. If it does, your conveyancer will check the Public Records Office and see if chancel repair liability must be paid. This is known as a Full Chancel Search.

Coal and General Mining Search - 1-3 days

The Coal and General Mining Search, also known as a Mining Search, is designed for properties built in a former mining area. It will determine whether mining has caused subsidence or other issues. The basic Mining Search is known as the CON29M.

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How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?

The average conveyancing search cost is between £250 and £450 in total. Conveyancers typically offer conveyancing searches as a package. This is a fixed fee for the three essential searches: Local Authority Search, Environmental, and Water and Drainage Search.

Here are the individual costs for each search:

Search TypeAverage Cost (£)
Local Authority Search£50 to £250
Environmental Search£50
Water and Drainage Search£50 to £100
Land Registry£17 (£3 for register view and £14 for official copies)
Chancel Repair Liability Search£120 plus VAT (£20 for initial check and £100 plus VAT for full search)
Mining Search£42.95

Use our conveyancing fee calculator to find out an estimated cost.

How Long After Searches to Exchange?

It can take 1-3 weeks between the searches and the exchange of contracts. However, this can vary as it depends on how long it takes for the different bodies to respond.

Your conveyancer will assess the results and send you a detailed report. They will offer expert advice on how to proceed with the property purchase and liaise with any relevant party. They will also prepare documents such as the Transfer Deed, Title Deed, and evaluate the mortgage conditions. They will examine the mortgage completion statements and redemption certificate.

You will have to hire a chartered surveyor to inspect the property. They'll carry out a detailed property survey that will reveal any defects and damage. You may use the results of your survey to renegotiate the price of the property.

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What are Pre-Contract Enquiries?

Anything described as ‘pre-contract’ takes place before contracts are exchanged. If any issues are raised during the searches, your solicitor will liaise with the relevant parties on your behalf.

  • Common pre-contract enquiries relate to:
  • Boundary checks and allocated parking spaces
  • Shared gas, electric and water/drainage supplies
  • Land restrictions such as shared access or rights of way
  • Constraints on altering the property. For example, if the property is a listed building
  • Historical building work and relevant planning permission
  • Building regulations and certifications such as for the electric, gas or windows
  • Issues flagged up in the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Leasehold terms and costs

Once both you and your mortgage lender are happy with the searches, the property purchase can move forward to the exchange of contracts.

What are Some Causes of Delays Between Searches to Completion?

Delays are common between searches and completion and can be frustrating for both the buyer and the seller.

Here are some delays to be aware of and tips on how to speed up this time:

Delays in the Property Chain

If you are buying a property that is part of a long property chain, there could be a domino effect of delays further down the line. To minimise this, you can put pressure on your solicitor by setting clear deadlines. This includes threatening to pull out of the transaction to motivate your solicitor to prioritise your case.

Pre-Completion Searches

Pre-completion searches are carried out before completion. They ensure the buyer can still afford to purchase the property. Several parts of this search are valid for 3-6 weeks once completed. Therefore, it’s in your solicitor’s best interests to have a fast turnaround. The best way to minimise any delays is by ensuring all information is accurate and correct.

Leasehold Queries

If you are buying or selling a leasehold property, there will be extra paperwork that must be submitted. There may be delays if the freeholder hasn’t provided the correct forms and permissions. It’s important to hire a leasehold solicitor who can assist with your case.

Slow Solicitors

During times of high demand, response times may be slower. This can be frustrating for all parties, so it is important to allow sufficient time for the searches to be completed. The best way to do this is by having your conveyancer order them at the start of the process.

Changing Solicitors

If the buyer or the seller changes solicitors, this can cause major delays. This is because your new solicitor will need to review the transaction. The further along in the transaction you are, the longer the delay is likely to be due to the amount of information. Therefore, it’s best to make sure you check that your solicitor can take on your case at the beginning of the conveyancing process.

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Finding a Conveyancer

Using a comparison site like Compare My Move can save you money and time when looking for a conveyancer. Simply fill in our conveyancing comparison form to compare up to 6 quotes and save up to 70% on your total conveyancing costs.

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  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)
Emma Lunn

Written by Emma Lunn

Freelance Personal Finance Journalist,

Emma Lunn is an award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance, consumer issues and property.

Jonathan Rolande

Reviewed by Jonathan Rolande

Founder and Director, NAPB and House Buy Fast

Forming the National Association of Property Buyers in 2013, Jonathan Rolande is also the Director of House Buy Fast.

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