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What Are Property Searches?

What Are Property Searches?
June 30, 2020

Before you’re able to complete the purchase of your new home, you’ll need to undertake a series of property searches. These property searches are an essential part of the mortgage lending process and ensures that the purchaser has complete information on the property, the land it occupies and the surrounding environment. A conveyancing solicitor usually conducts these searches on your behalf. The results of the searches will give you the complete picture of your new property, enabling you to secure a mortgage and move into your home with full confidence.

We explore what property searches are, what property searches you may need and why they’re a critical part of the house purchase process.


Property Searches
Property searches are essential checks that a solicitor makes before you complete on the new purchase of your property. The basic property searches that all home purchases will require include:

  • Local Authority Property Searches
  • Environmental Searches
  • Water Searches
  • Land Registry Checks

Each of these checks is an integral part of the house buying process. They each cover specific issues that could affect your enjoyment of your new property and the land surrounding it. They will also highlight any potential problems that could affect the property and clarify what you are purchasing.

Without satisfactory and complete property searches, your mortgage company may not release the funds you require to purchase your new home. Even if you are a cash buyer, property searches are an essential safeguard, giving you the complete picture of your new property.


Local Authority Property Searches

There are two local authority property searches that relate to your property, LLC1 and CON29. Together, these will provide you with a detailed understanding of your home and all the information your local authority holds on it.


LLC1 – Local Land Charge Register
The results of the LLC1 local land charge register search will provide crucial details on your property, including whether it’s a listed building, whether it’s in a conservation area and any other restrictions that may relate to the land or property. You will also learn of all planning agreements and conditional planning permissions that exist for the property.


CON19 – Enquiries of Local Authorities
CON19 searches provide crucial information that the local authority holds about your property that could affect your current or future use of it, including:

  • Information on planning decisions (including those currently awaiting approval)
  • Breaches of planning or building regulations
  • Proposed new road developments near your property
  • Transport systems near your property
  • Rights of way
  • The existence of a compulsory purchase order.

The Local Authority searches provide a detailed analysis of your property and can raise some critical issues which may affect your purchase. A comprehensive set of local authority searches will provide you, your solicitor and your mortgage lender with much of the information you need to proceed confidently with your purchase.

Local authority searches should take around ten days to complete, but timescales often depend on the authority itself, their workload and the complexity of the search. Local authority property searches usually cost between £150 – £250 to complete.


Environmental Searches

In addition to the standard local authority searches, your mortgage lender may request environmental searches are completed. These may cover specific issues such as flood risks, whether your property is in an area liable to subsidence and whether it’s built on contaminated land. Searches will also highlight any landfill sites or gas hazards near to your property.

The environmental searches required will vary according to the location and type of property you are purchasing. Environmental reports usually cost between £40 – £60 to complete.


Water Searches

Water searches will confirm whether the property is connected to the water supply and identify the location of mains water to the property. You’ll also learn about how the drainage system works and who maintains it, valuable information in an emergency.

Water searches will also highlight if the property has any public drains or sewers running through the land. Water searches usually cost around £50 to complete.


Land Registry Searches

The Land Registry holds all information about who owns the land the property sits on and who the freeholder is, so you can check that the seller has the right to sell it. Your solicitor will check the title register and title plan. This includes information about the boundaries to your property and details precisely what you’re buying.

Once you have completed your purchase, your solicitor will register your ownership of the property and the Land Register will be updated to reflect this. The title register and title plans usually cost under £10 to purchase and can be downloaded instantly from the Land Registry website.


Additional Searches

There are some other searches your lender may require or your solicitor may recommend depending on the location of your property. These include:

  • Chancel searches – your solicitor will check whether your property is required to contribute to the maintenance and repair of a local church.
  • Commons searches – if your property borders a piece of common land like a village green then you will require an additional search to ascertain what – if any – rights are exercised over that land. This can include limits or bans on development to your property.
  • Location searches – your lender may request specific searches depending on the location of your property. Homes in former mining areas, for example, will require additional searches to check if the property (or any surrounding it) have been liable to subsidence.


Why Are Property Searches Necessary?

Property searches are an essential part of the purchase process and can’t be rushed. Once the property searches are complete, your conveyancing solicitor will spend time reviewing the reports and identify any potential issues or problems they encounter. Common problems can include any alterations to your property that may not have received planning permission, rights of access to your land or planned works to adjoining properties that could affect your enjoyment of your new home.

If your solicitor identifies any potential problems, they can advise you on actions that you may wish to take, such as requesting works being carried out or the purchase of appropriate insurance or indemnity policies.

In the majority of cases, property searches are a standard process to rubber-stamp your purchase and reassure your lender. At Simon Blyth, we work with a trusted panel of conveyancing solicitors that can provide complete support and expert advice to support your property purchase. They work on a ‘no sale, no fee’ process – which means’ you’ll only pay for their services if you complete your purchase.