When you hire a solicitor to handle the conveyancing process for your property purchase, they will perform a series of searches to identify any potential issues you should know about before taking ownership of the property. These searches are also mandatory for lenders, who must ensure that no factors could affect the property’s value before approving a mortgage. Solicitor searches are essential to the conveyancing process and can provide invaluable information about a property.

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What searches are involved in conveyancing?

Your solicitor will conduct several searches when you buy a property. These include:

Local authority searches

Local authority searches are very crucial when purchasing a property. Your solicitor will request that they investigate any property-related information held by the local authority, including any possible planning permissions, restrictions or maintenance responsibilities for roads or paths adjacent to the property. Completing these searches can take one to six weeks, and the cost will vary from £70 to £400, depending on your property’s authority.

Land Registry searches

To proceed with the purchase, your solicitor must validate that the property seller is the lawful owner. To achieve this, they will scrutinize the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry, which may cost approximately £3 per check. These checks are mandatory as per the law.

Environmental searches

Conducting an environmental search when buying a property is vital to ensure it is not built on or close to contaminated land, water or an old landfill site. Your lender may require this search to be done before approving your mortgage. This is because many properties are built on land previously used for industrial purposes and could still have toxic substances in the ground. If you don’t discover these issues before buying the property, you may have trouble selling it later or have a hazardous living situation. Additionally, an environmental search can determine if there’s a potential flood risk.

Water authority searches

It’s crucial to conduct a water authority search to know the source of your water and to check for any public drains on your property. This information is critical because it can impact any future building work you plan to do, like building an extension.

Location-specific searches

If you’re purchasing a property in a particular area, your solicitor may advise you to conduct extra searches. For instance, if you’re buying in a locality previously used for mining, you might want to consider arranging a mining search to determine if the property you’re interested in is constructed on unstable ground and is thus prone to subsidence.

You need to conduct a chancel repair search. It will determine if you are responsible for paying for repairs to a parish church chancel. This responsibility was transferred to property owners from monasteries during the medieval period. Since October 2013, churches have been required to register liability with the Land Registry. However, they can still demand property owners to be responsible for repairs, even if the liability is not registered under specific circumstances. To avoid potential liability issues, conduct a chancel repair search, which is inexpensive, or purchase chancel repair insurance, which usually costs around £30.

How long do conveyancing searches take?

Generally, it usually takes two to three weeks to complete searches. However, please remember that the results of the searches may require your solicitor to conduct additional investigations.

It’s hard to estimate how long conveyancing searches will take since it depends on various factors, such as the property’s location, the specific searches required, your solicitor, and the time external organisations take to provide the essential information. The duration of council response time to search requests may range from quick to several weeks.

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To speed up the search process, it’s recommended to maintain regular communication with your solicitor. This way, you can verify if all necessary requests have been made and remind your solicitor to take action in case of delays. It’s a good idea to use the Credibble Home app to help you to track your progress during the home-buying process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Solicitor searches are an important part of the conveyancing process when buying a house. They involve your solicitor carrying out various searches to ensure that there are no issues with the property you are buying. ¹

The searches carried out by solicitors when buying a house will vary depending on the location of the property. However, some of the most common searches include local authority searches, environmental searches, and water authority searches. 2

A local authority search is one of the most important searches carried out by solicitors when buying a house. It involves your solicitor contacting the local council to obtain information about the property you are buying. This can include information about planning permission, building regulations, and any other issues that may affect the property. 3

An environmental search is another important search carried out by solicitors when buying a house. It involves your solicitor obtaining information about any potential environmental risks that may affect the property you are buying. This can include information about flooding, subsidence, and other environmental hazards. 2

A water authority search is another common search carried out by solicitors when buying a house. It involves your solicitor obtaining information from the local water company about any issues that may affect the water supply to the property you are buying. 2

A chancel repair liability search is carried out by your solicitor to determine whether there is any potential liability for repairs to the local church. This can be an issue if your property is located near an old church that has not been used for many years. ¹

A bankruptcy search is carried out by your solicitor to determine whether there are any outstanding bankruptcy orders against the seller of the property you are buying. This can help to ensure that there are no issues with the sale of the property. 4

A land registry search is carried out by your solicitor to obtain information about who owns the property you are buying and whether there are any restrictions on its use or sale. ¹

A coal mining search is carried out by your solicitor if the property you are buying is located in an area where coal mining has taken place in the past. This can help to identify any potential issues with subsidence or other hazards associated with coal mining activity. 2

A drainage and water search is carried out by your solicitor to obtain information about drainage and water supply to the property you are buying. This can help to identify any potential issues with drainage or water supply that may affect your use of the property. 3

References:

  1. What Solicitors do When Buying a House – Complete Process. https://www.amansolicitors.com/buying-a-house-solicitor-process
  2. Conveyancing Searches: All you need to know (in 2022) | TheAdvisory. https://www.theadvisory.co.uk/conveyancing/conveyancing-searches
  3. Solicitors searches – what are they?- L&C guides – L&C Mortgages. https://www.landc.co.uk/mortgage-guides/what-are-solicitors-searches-when-buying-a-house
  4. WHAT SEARCHES ARE DONE WHEN BUYING A HOUSE? All You Need To Know. https://businessyield.co.uk/personal-finance/what-searches-are-done-when-buying-a-house
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