Open Today: 9am - 6pm

When buying a property, one of the most important parts of the purchasing process is searches. But what searches do you need?

What are property searches?

When buying a house, property searches are a key part of the conveyancing process. They are checks carried out on your potential property.

If you are purchasing your property with a mortgage, you must carry out property searches. Your potential mortgage lender needs to know the risks associated with your property transaction as these can affect the value of the property. Whilst searches are not mandatory if you are buying your property with cash, it is still recommended that you carry out this important stage of conveyancing. Unfortunately, your seller does not have to give you the information you may need about the property, so searches can provide this.

Each search provides crucial information about the local area around the property you want to buy and therefore, helps to create a true picture of your potential purchase. Surveys on the other hand focus on the actual property only. 

Property searches are carried out with local authorities and other relevant parties. They consist of essential searches as well as some additional ones which may be necessary depending on the property to wish to buy. A conveyancing solicitor will know exactly what you need as they will be experienced in similar property transactions.

What are the main searches when buying a house?

Property searches are vital when buying a house as they can reveal problems you may not have been aware of otherwise. There are some essential searches you should carry out which we have listed below.

1. Local authority search

A local authority search is usually the first search carried out and one of the most important. It collects information from the local council such as building control issues and is made up of several smaller searches. This is a search your mortgage lender should request after you have made an offer on the property. It consists of two parts: a Local Land Charge Register search (LLC1) which reveals anything legally binding and The CON29.

AN lLC1 can reveal, for example, if the house is affected by:

The CON29 can reveal:

  • any contamination nearby or other potential pollution issues
  • plans for a bypass 
  • planning decisions made that impact the property or any other planning consent applications within a 250-metre radius

2. Environmental search

An environmental search is used to reveal any environmental issues within 500 metres of the property. When carrying out an environmental search, you will find out, for example:

  • if the property is affected by contamination as this could be costly to remove so you must be aware of it before buying. 
  • flood risk
  • subsidence which reveals the natural ground movement
  • landslide issues

If you do not carry out an environmental search, you could end up purchasing a property which is a health and safety risk.

3. Water and drainage searches

When buying a property,  you need to know about essentials such as mains water and drainage. The Water Authority will carry out this search for you. Through these searches, you can also find out other important information from the water company such as: 

  • the position of the house's pipes
  • the location of drainage systems
  • planning restrictions on drains
  • risks to the property
  • whether the property is on a metre or rates
  • any public drains or sewers which run through the property
  • who maintains sewers, pipes and drains
  • whether the water company will need to give permission for any extension of the property

4. Land Registry searches

A land registry search ensures that the title to the property does not change without your knowledge during the buying process. It can also let you know:

  • if the property is legally safe to buy
  • if bankruptcy has taken place
  • how much was previously paid for the house
  • rights of way
  • any charges and debts the property has registered on it

A land register completion search lets you know if your seller really is the owner of the property.

Are there any other searches I could need?

In addition to the above, you may require other searches when buying a house too, depending on the property's location. These are called discretionary searches. We list some of them below:

1. Flood risk search

Some areas are renowned for floods. Depending on where the house you wish to purchase is located, you may need to carry out a flood risk report to see if it is susceptible to flooding. For example, if a river is nearby, or if the property is situated on the coast, there may be a higher risk of flooding.

2. Mining search

The property you wish to buy may be affected by an old mine or there may be a new open cast mine nearby. A mining search should make you aware of this. This type of search may be essential in Wales for example, due to the country's history in coal mining.

The search must be completed where necessary as your property could have tunnels running underneath it. This can increase the risk of subsidence. The cost of a mining search depends on the amount of land concerned but can be between £25-£120.

3. Chancel repair liability search

When you own a house, you may be liable to pay towards the maintenance for the local church. Therefore,  you may need to carry out a chancel repair liability search. This reveals if the property sits within a parish boundary and whether you're liable for any chancel repairs. 

4. HS2 search

An HS2 search is a high-speed rail search. This will reveal if the property will be affected by the high-speed railway line which is planned from London to Birmingham. Although it will take 20 years to complete, it could affect the property you wish to buy now.

How much do searches cost?

Property searches when buying a house can vary in cost as it will depend on what ones need to be carried out

A standard local authority search typically costs between £50 -£250 as it varies between councils, and an environmental search can vary depending on the amount of land you wish to purchase. Some searches are minimal in cost such as the Land Registry search at £3, bankruptcy searches at £2 per name and a chancel repair search costs just a few pounds.

Your conveyancing solicitor should be able to give you an idea of the budget you should set aside for your searches when buying a house.

Who arranges my property searches?

Property searches are carried out by the authority responsible for the area of the search such as the local authority. When buying a house you should always have a conveyancing solicitor to assist you through the process and arrange the searches. They know what to look for, including any additional searches necessary.

Conveyancing is when you exchange property between you and another party, so typically buying and selling a house. However, a lot goes into conveyancing such as remortgaging and property searches, so you must have a conveyancing solicitor who knows what they're doing, Homeward Legal solicitors are all regulated by the relevant bodies for both legal advice and specifically for conveyancing.

The property market can be tricky to understand with a multitude of new issues for you, such as property searches. We do understand how keen you are to complete the deal, but you must carry out all the necessary stages and tasks concerned with conveyancing. That's where we come in. At Homeward Legal we want you to get it right and of course quickly as possible. So we guide you through the process of conveyancing and do the hard work for you.  We will advise you on and carry out all the necessary searches for your transaction. Homeward Legal can look after all your residential conveyancing needs so if you need help you are in the right place.

If you have conveyancing needs, then contact us today at . You can also send us a quick message here, and we can provide a fast quote online.

Contact us for help with your conveyancing needs

At Homeward Legal, we are ready to assist you with every conveyancing need. Our mission is to make buying your property simple and as efficient as possible which includes those initial searches when buying a house. We pride ourselves on having highly capable property solicitors throughout England and Wales, who are experienced in a wide range of conveyancing issues.

Let Homeward Legal help you with all your conveyancing news. Call today or send us a message here. You can also get an online quote here.

Last updated 01.12.22

Share this guide:

More from this category