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What are Conveyancing Searches?

February 21st 2022


Conveyancing searches (often known as property searches) are carried out by a licensed conveyancer or property solicitor as part of the home buying process. 

These searches provide information about the property you intend to buy and the areas surrounding the property. Your solicitor will make enquiries on your behalf to various authorities that hold information about the said property, the land it sits on, and factors that may directly or indirectly affect it.

Nobody wants a big surprise 6 months into their new home. That’s why conveyancing searches are critical when planning to buy property. At Abode, we are committed to helping you make the process of buying and selling a property as easy as possible. So we hope this guide will give you an idea of what to expect when the solicitors start talking about “the searches”.

Property searches are not a requirement when purchasing a property. If you’re a cash buyer, you may decide to go without them, especially if you know the area well. However, conducting these searches can save you costs and a lot of problems down the line. 

We recommend conducting property searches to ensure the property you intend to buy is protected and in good condition. 

For example, if there’s a high risk of flooding in the area or a chance of subsidence caused by an underground coal mine, you wouldn’t be aware of this without conducting a conveyancing search. This guide will introduce you to conveyancing searches and touch on the different types of property searches. We’ll also look at the cost of conducting these searches. 

What Searches Do You Need?

The searches to be done will depend on the location of the property you’re buying. But no matter where the property is located, you’ll need these four main searches.

  • Local authority searches
  • Water and drainage searches
  • Environmental searches
  • Title search

Let’s briefly go over these searches.

1. Local Authority Searches

These searches cover a number of issues about the property and surrounding area. Typically, a local authority search is covered in two parts.

(i) Local Land Charges Certificate Searches (LLC1)

LLC1 will tell you if the property:

  • Is a listed building
  • Is in a Tree Preservation Order Area
  • Has debt registered against it
  • Is located in a Conservation Area
  • Will be affected by future development plans
  • Needs a renovation improvement grant

(ii) Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

The results of the CON29 search will tell you whether the property.

  • Has breached planning or building regulations
  • Is affected by potential rail or road schemes or proposals for future developments nearby
  • Is in a radon-affected area
  • Is on the contaminated land register

These local authority searches are arguably the most critical as they look at the information about the property held by the local authority. 

2. Water and Drainage Searches

This search gives information about the property’s proximity to water mains and public sewers. It also highlights whether the property has a sewer running within its boundaries. 

Typically, water and drainage searches provide information as to whether the property:

  • Is connected to a public water supply
  • Is close to water mains and public sewers
  • Has a public sewer running within its boundaries

Your conveyor uses a search agent who liaises with the local water company to establish the state of the property concerning water and drainage. 

3. Environmental Search

This search will tell you if the house has been built on potentially contaminated land and any inherent risk surrounding the land within which the property is built. 

Environmental risk will look at:

  • The history of the uses of the land surrounding the property
  • Whether there are traces of radon gas or toxic waste nearby
  • Whether there’s a risk of subsidence
  • Whether the property is in a flood-prone land

The search will give a certificate detailing whether the land has passed an environmental search and, if not, what actions should be taken. 

4. Title Searches

Title searches consist of title register and title plan and are essential searches for buyers. These searches confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the rightful owner of the property and whether they’re legally allowed to sell the property. 

Typically, a title search will provide the following information.

  • The property’s legal owner
  • The property’s previous owner
  • The property location
  • If the property has any debt
  • The general boundaries of the property
  • How much the property was bought for

Both the Title Register and Title Plan are bought through the Land Registry website at £3 each and are ordered by your solicitor. 

Other searches you might need will depend on the location of the property. 

For example, properties in areas with a history of mining might require a mining search to establish whether the property you want to buy has been built on stable ground. Other conveyancing searches may include chancel liability search, coal mining search, high-speed rail search, energy and infrastructure search, etc. 

How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?

The cost of property searches varies depending on the location of the property. However, the approximate costs of some of the searches described above are as follows. 

  • Local Authority search – between £150 and £400
  • Environmental search – £60
  • Water and drainage search – £50 – £100
  • Mining search – £25 – 150

Wrapping Up

Conveyancing searches provide valuable information about the property you plan to buy and information on the areas surrounding the property. 

These searches are not a requirement by law but are recommended as they can save you a lot of headaches down the line. 

The four main searches carried out on practically all properties, irrespective of location, are a local authority, water and drainage, environmental, and title searches. The cost of property searches can range from £250 to £400 depending on the property’s location. If you still have any questions, please get in touch and we  will be happy to assist where we can. 

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