Compare & Save on Conveyancing Solicitors

Speak to accredited Conveyancers & save today!

Our partners are regulated by the SRA, CLC, LSS or LSNI

Accredited Conveyancers with competitive rates

Over 300,000 movers saved with Compare My Move

Connect with up to 4 accredited Conveyancers

Conveyancing Searches Explained

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
8th November 2018 (Last updated on Wednesday 28th August 2019)

Conveyancing searches are enquiries made to a variety of different authorities which will provide you with further 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, including 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 a requirement to reassure your mortgage lender that the property won’t lose its value. These searches will also give you more information concerning the area and the property itself, playing a decisive factor in whether or not you go ahead with the purchase.

A licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor will enquire with the necessary people on what searches to undergo.

This article will cover the following points

What Are Conveyancing Searches? What Are Local Authority Searches? What Are Environmental Searches? What Are Drainage and Water Searches? What Are Title Searches? Less Common Conveyancing Searches How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take? How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost? Do I Need Conveyancing Searches? 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 local area and the property you’re planning to purchase. Property searches are typically made up of local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches.

These will then highlight any issues to do with the area and local authority that could potentially 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.  

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

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 will have to instruct your conveyancer to carry out local authority searches as a requirement.

Local authority searches are vital in finding out key pieces of information that could be the deciding factor on whether or not you buy the property. The searches will highlight anything in the local area that will affect you whilst living in the property.

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 and find out if the property was built on contaminated land. It will also 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 problem areas at the beginning of the conveyancing process instead of a few years down the line. 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 or not 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 and 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 purchasing the property.

It may not seem like an obvious search, but it will be a requirement from your mortgage lender so they're reassured 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 carried out by the buyer's conveyancer. They will confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the legal owner of the property and whether or not they’re legally allowed to sell the property to you.

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.

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.

Chancel Repair Search – If there is a church near your property, a chancel repair search will find out whether you are liable for the church’s repairs and maintenance or not.

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. 

Bankruptcy Search - Your mortgage lender will require a bankruptcy search on the buyer to check they haven't been or will become bankrupt before they release the funds to you.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

The turnaround for conveyancing search results can range anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on how fast your local authority will act. 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, although most local councils have or are in the process of using an online system with the rise of online conveyancing

Typically, 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 require.

However, below, we have included a few of the individual costs for the many types of conveyancing searches available. 

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 

Data from The Advisory

Do I Need Conveyancing Searches?

Conveyancing searches are a necessary requirement for those looking to use a mortgage lender, however, you will still be expected to pay for them yourself. This is a different story for those wishing to pay using cash, but it’s still recommended to conduct these searches as they are vital when informing buyers whether or not 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 always have conveyancing searches carried out as they will highlight problem areas before you commit to purchasing the property. 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 4 licensed conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors to instantly receive free conveyancing quotes from the best in the business.