FAQs - What are conveyancing searches?

In this FAQ we look at 'searches', legal professionals are always mentioning them, and you do have to pay for them when purchasing a property. So we thought we'd explain exactly what they are. 

Conveyancing searches do actually play a vital part in ensuring that you won't face any legal problems in relation to your new home. Below, we briefly answer some of the questions you may have, but please do feel free to talk to one of our conveyancing experts if you want to know more.    

What are conveyancing searches?

Searches are standard enquiries raised by the buyer's solicitor with local authorities - for example, the local council and water authority. 

Conveyancing searches deal only with the legal aspects of your purchase - so it's important to understand that, unlike surveys, they won't provide any information on the physical condition of the property you are buying. 

Why do I need conveyancing searches?

Searches provide important information regarding the legal status of your new home; for example, whether it is subject to any planning enforcement notices. 

Without the correct searches being carried out, you could face serious problems with your property in future. 

Can I proceed without conveyancing searches?

If you are a cash purchaser, you are entitled to proceed without searches being carried out, though it’s not advisable. 

If you are buying with a mortgage, conveyancing searches will be a requirement, though, in some circumstances, a lender may accept indemnity insurance as an alternative.

But insurance will only cover any loss of value to a property, or any essential expenses, resulting from something which would have been revealed had a search been carried out. It does not prevent any action from being taken and does not provide compensation for any resultant inconvenience.

How much will it cost?

Costs vary depending on the area and local authority, or service provider. But you should expect to pay between £100 - £300 for all the searches required for an average residential property.

Which conveyancing searches might I need?

This depends on the location of the property. All properties should have a local authority search. In addition, some conveyancers will carry out a drainage and water search, and an environmental search. 

Depending on the location, different types of mining searches might also be required. If the property is next to a river, then perhaps a British Waterways search should be considered. 

What do they commonly report on?

Environmental search

An environmental search looks at past uses of the land to try and establish whether it has ever been used for a purpose that could have contaminated the land.   

Local authority search

The local authority search of records, including planning, building regulations consents, and proposed road schemes (within 200 meters of the property). It is a search of the subject property only and does not cover neighbouring properties, so for example, it would not reveal planning applications relating to properties or land in the area. 

Planning search

The local authority search (above) relates only to the specific property searched. The planning search will confirm applications and permissions in the surrounding area.

Drainage and water search

This is a search of the water authority's records to check whether the property is connected to mains drainage and to the mains water supply.

Mining search

A mining search will establish whether the property is at risk from subsidence caused by old mine workings

Lawyer Checker 

This is a search to verify the bank details of the other side’s lawyers before we send them money. 
lawyer checker 

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