If you’re buying a house and not sure what searches you need, then this guide is for you. Property searches are an important aspect of buying a new home. Read on to find out more about the different types of searches and get a few conveyancing solicitor quotes at the same time 

What Are Property Searches?

One of the most important tasks when house buying, is the searches that need to be carried out. “Searches” are a standard set of queries submitted to the local authority in which your new house is situated. 

House buying searches highlight important information about the property. They are ordered at the beginning of the conveyancing process as they can take some time to be answered.

Searches comprise of a local authority search, environmental search, water and drainage search, and title searches. Sometimes other searches are requested This depends on the location and type of property you are buying. 

What Are The Main Searches On A Property?

The 4 main searches when buying a house usually come consist of:

  1. Local Authority Search
  2. Environmental Search
  3. Water and Drainage Search
  4. Title Search

Property searches reassure you there are no unwanted problems in the property you intend to buy. They also check the surrounding area. 

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Local Authority Searches

There are two parts to a local authority search – a LLC1 and a CON29. 

1. Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

This covers any charges or attendant restrictions relating to land or property. These are relevant if the property is:

  • a listed building
  • located in a conservation area
  • subject to a tree protection order
  • in need of an improvement or renovation grant
  • or situated in a smoke control zone

It also covers planning agreements and conditional planning permissions. All LLC1 registrations are legally binding on successive owners (i.e. you).

2. Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

This supplies information relating to:

  • public highways, 
  • proposals for new roads, 
  • rail schemes
  • planning decisions that could affect the property. 
  • outstanding statutory notices, 
  • breaches of planning or building regulations or 
  • the existence of a compulsory purchase order. 

Environmental factors are also covered; it is important to know whether the house stands on contaminated land or in a Radon gas affected area .

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Drainage and Water Searches

Drainage and Water Searches provide information on the location of sewers. They say whether the property is connected to the mains water supply. 

These searches will gather info on whether:

  • The property is connected to the public sewage system.
  • or connected to the public water supply.
  • How the property will be charged for its water supply.

Title Searches

Searches examine the public records that determine a property’s legal ownership. Title searches confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that they’re legally allowed to sell it.

Other Property Searches

The aforementioned searches are the most prominent property searches. They are ordered as a package. However, depending on the area the property is in, your conveyancing solicitor may need to dig a little deeper and order the following:

Flood Search

To avoid a flood risk, it is advised that the property should be checked on the Flood Map at the Environment Agency’s website. Results will show possible floods and also provide a detailed assessment of the area.

Chancel Repair Search

A Chancel Search checks to see if you’re liable to pay possibly up to tens of £1,000s towards the repair and upkeep of your local church in England and Wales.

Mining Search

If you are buying in a mining area, mining searches may be ordered. They provide vital information on the history of mining near the property and whether it affects the house. Properties built on old mining grounds are at risk of a variety of costly issues, especially subsidence.

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How Long Do Property Searches Take?

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

What Can Delay Searches?

A delay in search results may occur if your local authority is slow to act or has a manual system. This can slow down the process by weeks. However, most local authorities have or are in the process of using an online system.

If your searches reveal anything of concern, your conveyancer might have to order further searches. This will delay the process. 

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Can I Exchange Soon After Searches?

It can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to exchange after searches are complete. Your searches will be returned and approved prior to exchanging contracts. You will have time to raise queries.