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What Are Pre-Completion Searches?

Nicola Ryan

Written by

12th Apr 2023 (Last updated on 12th Apr 2024) 5 minute read

Pre-completion searches are last-minute checks that look into the buyer’s financial history. They ensure that a buyer can still afford to purchase the property.

The searches will also secure the buyer's position to prevent other interested parties from making offers. They'll be carried out near the end of the conveyancing process by the buyer's conveyancing solicitor.

In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know about pre-completion searches.

  1. What are the Main Pre-Completion Searches?
  2. Do I Need Pre-Completion Searches?
  3. Bankruptcy Search (K16)
  4. Land Charges Search (K15)
  5. Official Search of Whole with Priority (OS1)
  6. Official Search of Part with Priority (OS2)
  7. Official Search of Whole or Part with Priority (OS3)
  8. When are Pre-Completion Searches Carried Out?
  9. How Long Do They Last?
  10. Finding a Conveyancer

What are the Main Pre-Completion Searches?

The pre-completion searches prevent issues with the Title Deeds. The main searches include:

  • Bankruptcy Searches (K16)
  • Land Charges Search (K15)
  • Official Search of Whole with Priority (OS1)
  • Official Search of Part with Priority (OS2)
  • Official Search of Whole or Part without Priority (OS3)

Once the necessary searches have been completed, you will receive an official copy of the Title Plan and Property Register. This allows you to proceed to completion within the allotted protection period.

These are different to pre-contract searches. They aim to highlight issues with the property and surrounding area. These include the Local Authority Search, Environmental Search, and Water and Drainage Search.

Read more about Conveyancing Searches

Do I Need Pre-Completion Searches?

If you are buying a property with a mortgage, your mortgage lender will require a bankruptcy search. This is part of your mortgage application. Those looking to buy without a mortgage will not need this search completed.

If you are purchasing the whole of a registered title, you will need an OS1 issued. Those buying part of a title, such as a new build plot, will need an OS2.

A person buying unregistered land will need a Land Charges Search conducted in lieu of an OS1 or OS2.

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Bankruptcy Search (K16)

A Bankruptcy Search is also known as a K16. It ensures the buyer can still afford the property prior to completion. It is usually a requirement made by mortgage lenders to check that the mortgagee is able to make their payments and minimise future risk. They will look into prior financial history such as previous bankruptcy.

The search is conducted by the buyer’s conveyancer who will input the buyer’s full name in the Land Registry portal.

They will also look into any extra costs that you would be expected to pay post-completion such as ground rent and Stamp Duty Land Tax. Once carried out, your solicitor will issue an official search certificate, and the main transaction can complete.

If any issues do arise in the K16 and contracts have not been exchanged, the seller has the right to withdraw from the sale.

The seller’s solicitors may request a portion of the sale proceeds to be paid to the trustee if a bankruptcy notice is issued. This can impact your total search fees as your solicitor may have to conduct a specific check to see if you are still creditworthy.

Those looking to buy with a mortgage may receive a mortgage deed from their lender if the debts have been repaid.

Land Charges Search (K15)

A Land Charges Search, also known as a K15, is conducted when purchasing unregistered land. Those looking to apply for the first registration title documents will need to have a Land Charge Search conducted. This ensures that the land is registered against the buyer.

Land charges include properties with a second or existing mortgage and homes that are on local church land. This is because homes located near a local parish church may be liable to contribute to Chancel repairs.

Once the land charge has been issued, the purchaser is legally bound to it.

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Official Search of Whole with Priority (OS1)

The Official Search of Whole with Priority is known as the OS1 form. It is a search that gives the buyer priority over the land that they are purchasing. You can apply for a priority search if the registered estate has valuable consideration.

Once the search has been conducted, other interested parties will not be able to register their interest prior to completion.

OS1 forms are issued for buyers looking to purchase the whole title and will have full legal ownership transferred on completion. It is also a search for buyers applying for a mortgage offer.

Official Search of Part with Priority (OS2)

The Official Search of Part with Priority is also known as the OS2. It can be ordered on the Land Registry website and will be delivered by post.

The OS2 form is similar to the OS1. However, it is a different search as it is for buyers who are looking to purchase part of the property’s title. It is not immediately available as the OS1 form, meaning that it will need to be ordered in advance.

OS2 forms are usually used for new build properties and those purchasing registered land. Registered land will have a unique title number which will be transferred over to the buyer when the transaction completes.

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Official Search of Whole or Part with Priority (OS3)

An Official Search of Whole or Part with Priority, also known as an OS3, is the search that is least used. It has a similar format to the OS1 and 2. However, the big difference is that the applicant does not receive priority.

When are Pre-Completion Searches Carried Out?

Most pre-completion searches are done between the exchange of contracts and completion. However, the bankruptcy search should be done prior to when the contracts are due to be exchanged.

It’s important to remember that once you have exchanged contracts, the transaction is legally binding. This means you will be liable for financial penalties if you withdraw from the sale after this point.

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How Long Do They Last?

The Land Charges Search is valid for 3 weeks once issued and the OS1 and 2 are valid for 6 weeks once given. Pre-completion searches are only valid for a limited period of time. The forms will clearly state the priority period at the top, showing the issue and expiration dates.

Having these searches done at least 3 weeks before completion will ensure that all paperwork can be processed with plenty of time. Your pre-completion searches must be valid on the day of completion to ensure that no adverse entries have been made.

Finding a Conveyancer

Compare My Move can connect you with a conveyancer or solicitor who can assist you with your pre-completion searches.

Fill out our conveyancing comparison form and receive quotes from up to 6 licensed conveyancers or solicitors. All our conveyancing partners are regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI, or CILEX. Compare quotes to save money on your conveyancing fees.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

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