What are Property Searches?
When buying a property (or land) there may be things about it that you won’t learn from an estate agent or surveyor. There could be potential restrictions and conditions on the property that could affect the value or change your mind on purchasing the property.
Local councils and authorities keep a large amount of records and information relating to properties in their area. You can search through these records to see if there’s any useful information about the property or surrounding areas. These are the “Property Searches” (Mortgage lenders will require searches to be made).
These searches should be completed and approved before you exchange contracts and legally commit yourself to purchasing the property.
Local Authority Searches
This search will give you most of the information you need: planning issues, road works, railway proximity and whether the property is listed or in a conservation area.
So you’ll know if you’ve got protected grass in your garden; or if there are plans for a new railway through it.
Water Authority Searches
This search covers all your property water and drainage information. You’ll know where your water comes from and if any public drains run through the property. Public drainage could affect future constructions or extensions.
Chancel Repair Search
This property search ensures there are no potential leftover medieval liabilities. There are still some ancient laws which force homeowners to pay for their local church repairs.
This search is from the Environmental Agency. It’s shows whether there are any potential environmental issues with the property. For example, maybe the land or neighbouring land was previously a landfill site.
Agricultural Search Packages
If you’re buying Agricultural land, like a Farm, Barn, Stable or other type of Agricultural Building; we recommend that you get a specialised Agricultural Search Package. For more info, visit our Agricultural Conveyancing page.
Location Specific Searches
Some areas of the UK might require specific searches for things that could effect properties in that area. For example, your conveyancing lawyer will request a coal search if you are buying land/property in a coal mining area. Other location specific searches include:
- Tin searches in Cornwall
- Mining searches in the welsh valleys
- Radon gas search in Somerset
- Brine Search in Cheshire
Checking Flood Risk
In addition to these searches, the Land Registry has a service which provides details of flood risks to individual properties in England and Wales (properties in Scotland can be found via the Scottish Environment Protection Agency).
How much do property searches cost?
Local authority searches – £70-£400
Water authority search – £50-£75
Environmental Search – £40
Checking flood risk – £12
Chancel repair search – £18
These searches are time consuming, so your conveyancer will likely add additional charges for carrying out these searches.
How long do property searches take?
Searches usually take 1-2 weeks, but can take up to 6 weeks. The conveyancer can’t do much about this, be patient and make sure the seller knows you’re waiting on the searches.