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Conveyancing Searches Explained

Written by

8th Nov 2018 (Last updated on 30th Mar 2020) 8 minute read

Conveyancing searches are enquiries made to a variety of different authorities which will provide you with information about the property you’re hoping to buy. These searches are a vital part of the conveyancing process.

After your offer has been accepted, your conveyancer will organise three main searches: local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches. You'll also have to carry out title searches to prove that the seller is the legal owner of the house.

If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, then conveyancing searches are required to reassure your mortgage lender that the property won’t lose its value. These searches will give you more information concerning the area and the property itself. They are a decisive factor in whether you should go ahead with the purchase.

A licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor will enquire with the necessary people on what searches to undergo. Compare My Move share everything you need to know about conveyancing searches.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Are Conveyancing Searches?
  2. What Are Local Authority Searches?
  3. What Are Environmental Searches?
  4. What Are Drainage and Water Searches?
  5. What Are Title Searches?
  6. Less Common Conveyancing Searches
  7. How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?
  8. How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?
  9. Do I Need Conveyancing Searches?
  10. Save on Conveyancing Costs

What Are Conveyancing Searches?

Conveyancing searches are enquiries carried out by your conveyancer or solicitor to find out crucial information on the property and its local area. Property searches are made up of local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches. They will need to be budgeted into the total cost of buying a house.

These will then highlight any issues to do with the area and local authority that could cause disruption or damage to the property. The council might have planning permission to carry out building work or major schemes that could affect the property you’re interested in.  This is the time that your conveyancer will let you know if you need to take out indemnity insurance for peace of mind.

Conveyancing searches will be carried out at the beginning of the conveyancing process, before exchanging contracts. These searches will provide you with vital information that could affect your decision to continue with the transaction.

Rest assured, at Compare My Move we only match you with verified conveyancers that are regulated by the SRA, CLC, LSS or LSNI.

What Are Local Authority Searches?

Local authority searches are an essential part of the conveyancing process for buying a house. If you’re loaning money from a mortgage provider, then you'll have to instruct your conveyancer to carry out local authority searches.

Local authority searches are vital in finding key pieces of information that could be the deciding factor on whether you buy the property. The searches will highlight anything in the local area that will affect you whilst living there.

The local authority searches your conveyancer will carry out are made up of two parts:

Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

The first part of the local authority searches is the local land charges register search (LLC1). This will be able to tell you:

  • If the property is a listed building or not.
  • If the property is located within a conservation or tree preservation area.
  • If the property is in a smoke control area.
  • The property’s conditional planning permissions.

Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

The other part of the local authority searches is the enquiries of the local authority (CON29). This will be able to inform you about:

  • The property’s planning history.
  • If there are any proposed building plans that could affect the property.
  • If there are any road or traffic schemes planned near the property.
  • The area and property’s building regulations.

What Are Environmental Searches?

Environmental searches will provide details of the land within the property’s vicinity. It will find out if the property was built on contaminated land and will be able to highlight if you’re at risk of flooding.

These searches are essential when buying a house as you’re made aware of any problems at the beginning of the conveyancing process. This then prevents a nasty bill from being addressed to you in the future.

Environmental searches will look at:

  • The history of the uses of land in the vicinity of the property.
  • Whether there are traces of toxic waste or radon gas nearby.
  • Identifying if there’s a flood risk in the area.
  • Identifying the risk of subsidence.

What Are Drainage and Water Searches?

Drainage and water searches will also be carried out by your conveyancer and will uncover information on the area’s sewage system. It will also look at the property’s water supply from your local water company. It’s essential that your conveyancer carries out a drainage and water search to highlight any major issues before you commit to the sale.

It may not seem like an obvious search, but it will be a requirement from your mortgage lender. It provides reassurance that the property is not at risk of public waterways or drains causing flooding.

Drainage and water searches will gather vital information on:

  • If the property is linked to the public sewage system.
  • If the property is linked to the public water supply.
  • How the property will be charged for its water supply.
  • If there is a risk of flooding due to its proximity to public sewers.

What Are Title Searches?

Title searches will be an essential conveyancing search for the buyer of a property. They will confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the legal owner of the property and whether they’re legally allowed to sell the property.

The title searches will provide information on:

  • Who currently owns the property.
  • Who previously owned the property.
  • How much the property was bought for.
  • If the property has any debt.
  • The location of the property.

Less Common Conveyancing Searches

Local authority, environmental and drainage and water searches are the most popular conveyancing searches and can usually be purchased as a package from your conveyancer. However, depending on the area the property is in, your conveyancer may need to enquire about further information.

1. Flood Search

A flood search will inform you if the property and area is at risk of flooding. It goes without saying that this search is vital if the property is near water.

2. Chancel Repair Search

If there's a church near your property, a chancel repair search will find out whether you're liable for the church’s repairs and maintenance.

3. Mining Search 

A mining search will provide vital information on the history of mining near the property and if this affects the house. Properties built on old mining grounds are at risk of a variety of costly issues, especially subsidence. 

4. Bankruptcy Search

Your mortgage lender will require a bankruptcy search on the buyer to check they haven't been, or will become, bankrupt before releasing the funds.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

The turnaround for conveyancing search results can range from a few days to several weeks depending on how fast your local authority acts. The time that conveyancing searches take will vary depending on a number of factors.

You might have a delay in receiving the results from the searches if your local council is yet to use an electronic system. This will slow down the process by a few weeks. However, most local councils have or are in the process of using an online system with the rise of online conveyancing

Local authority searches can take anywhere from 10 days to several months. Drainage and water, environmental, flood, mining, chancel repair and title searches will take between 1 and 10 days.

How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?

Conveyancers will usually offer a search package made up of the local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches. The price can range from £250 to £450 and will vary by location, conveyancer costs and the amount of searches you need.

However, below, we've included a few of the individual costs for the many types of conveyancing searches available. The Advisory share their research on the cost of conveyancing searches.

Cost of conveyancing searches:

  • Local Authority Search = £60 - £230
  • Environmental Search = £25 - £60
  • Drainage and Water Search = £50 - £100
  • Flood Search = £20 - £50
  • Chancel Repair Search = £20 - £90
  • Mining Search = £25 - £120
  • Title Searches = £3 (£7 for the official copies) 
  • Bankruptcy Search = £2 per name 

Do I Need Conveyancing Searches?

Conveyancing searches are a necessary requirement for those looking to use a mortgage lender. However, you'll still be expected to pay for them yourself. This will be different for those wishing to pay by cash, but it’s still recommended as these searches are vital when informing buyers whether the property is a worthy investment. 

Buying a House with a Mortgage

If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, then your mortgage lender will require your conveyancer to carry out searches as they will be joint owners of the property with you. They will need to know if there are any issues with the property and the area before continuing as they will need to determine its value.

Buying a House with Cash

If you’re purchasing the property with cash, then you can decide how many or how little conveyancing searches you have. However, it’s recommended to have conveyancing searches carried out as they'll highlight problems before you commit to the purchase. If any issues arise, you can decide whether or not to resolve them immediately or to pull out of the sale altogether.

Save on Conveyancing Costs

It's widely advised to use comparison websites to find a fully regulated and trusted conveyancer. Compare My Move will connect you with up to 5 licensed conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors to instantly receive free conveyancing quotes from the best in the business.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.