Seddons Guide to conveyancing searches and what they mean.

Seddons Guide to conveyancing searches and what they mean.

Although not one of the most glamorous parts of buying a house, conveyancing searches are a crucial part of the process. Conveyancing searches are carried out by your solicitor to find out essential information about the property you are buying.

These searches are so important as they’ll reveal to you the information about the property that you need to know before you move, including any nasty surprises that you wouldn’t want to find out too late. They are also required by mortgage lenders to reassure them there’s nothing that would cause the property value to suddenly drop.

There are many types of conveyancing searches, and depending on the area, they might not all be necessary to do.  Here are some of the main kinds that you should be aware of.

Local Authority Searches

This is a mandatory search for a mortgage, and is arguably the most important one.  This looks at the information that local authorities hold on the property.

Local authority searches tell you important information about the building itself; for example if the building is listed or if it is located in a conservation area. In addition this search will reveal the building’s planning and building regulations history, proposed development or road plans that could affect the property.

Planning searches

As a local authority search is completed against the property itself, it will only show up developments that directly affect it. For local developments and building regulation consents for nearby properties a separate planning search is carried out.

Water and drainage searches

Another mandatory search is a water and drainage search which is completed with the local sewerage provider. It includes information on the incoming water supply and the location of the sewers and whether there are any public drains on the property.

It will also reveal important practical details like who is responsible for maintenance and repair of the water and drainage supply.

Environmental searches

An environmental search will provide information about the land the property is built on, and whether it is on or near contaminated land.

The searches will look at the past use of the land and identify any contaminants nearby. An environmental search should also tell you whether the property is at risk of flooding or subsidence.

Title searches

Title searches make sure that the seller of the property is the legal owner, and that they are allowed to sell it, by checking with the HM Land Registry.

Title searches will also provide details on the past owners and sales of the property.

Less common searches

In areas that saw mining in the past, a mining search will be an essential enquiry. It will detail the history of mining near the property and if it could affect the property.

Another search that could be carried out for houses in certain areas is a Chancel Liability search. This will establish whether you could be liable for the local parish church’s repairs and maintenance.

How long do conveyancing searches take?

Much of the speed of conveyancing searches depends on your local authority. These searches can take anywhere from a week to over a month, depending on the system your local authority uses.

Other searches should take less time. Typically, water and drainage searches, environmental searches, and others can be done from a few days to a week.

If you would like more information on the conveyancing process or to arrange a conveyancing quote, see the conveyancing area of our website or get in touch with us for impartial advice.