If you are buying a home, your conveyancer will carry out searches as part of the conveyancing process. They are done to check if there is anything you need to know about the property and that there are no problems for you to be concerned about.
The most common searches obtained on a purchase are a Local Authority search (which details planning and building regulation applications, conservation area and listed building applications, road schemes and environmental issues etc.) and a water and drainage search (to confirm that you are connected to the water mains and sewerage system).
We will also obtain an environmental report. This will detail the likelihood of the property lying on contaminated land and any flooding or subsidence risks or any other environmental issues which may affect the property. If your property is an area once used for coal mining, tin mining or brine extraction we may need to carry out these additional searches.
It is worth asking about the limitations of particular searches. For example, if you are buying a house because you have fallen in love with the view over country fields, your conveyancer will carry out searches on the land within the boundary of the property, but this will probably not include the land surrounding it.
So if you are buying because of the view, ensure your conveyancer is aware as they may need to carry out additional searches against the field to check whether there might be plans to build new houses there.
How long do property searches take?
Property searches can vary due to the method used by your local authority to return your results. For example, some authorities will send your results electronically, which is much quicker than by post. Additionally, local authorities often have very small teams working in the Land Charges department, so during peak periods it could take them longer to return your search results.
There are over 340 local authorities across the UK and they each manage property searches differently. This means that turnaround time can be anything between 48 hours to several weeks.
For further information on the different searches we will undertake on your new property, take a look at our in depth guide on conveyancing searches, or if this is your first property purchase, check out our first time buyers guide, full of useful information to help you every step of the way.