What are conveyancing searches?
Searches are requests for information that your Conveyancer will make from certain authorities or organisations that will provide certain information about the Property and the local area. Your Conveyancer will check that the searches do not reveal any legal issues that may have to be resolved or investigated before the Property transaction can proceed. There is also a lot more information these searches provide which could be useful to house buyers.
What conveyancing searches can I get?
There are lots of searches on the market that you can request when you buy a property. However the main ones are as follows:-
- Local Authority Search (CON29),
This search returns a lot of useful information from the local authority such as historic planning and building regulations information relating to the Property, whether or not the Property is a listed building or within a conservation area, and lots more information. For a full list of the questions asked on a standard local authority search see the standard questions available at the Law Society website here
- Drainage and Water Search;
This will reveal the foul and surface water drainages connections at the Property and will show where the public water and drainage pipes are. It can also tell you the quality of the water in the area, how the property is billed for water and where the water meter is located.
- Environmental Search;
Environmental searches can differ from provider to provider but essentially it will let you know if there is any potential for contamination at the Property, it might advise on flooding risks and natural ground subsidence risks. The key thing to remember with all searches, but particularly this one is that no one physically inspects the Property when compiling the search results, the results are based purely on data available to the search providers. If you are particularly concerned about any possible environmental issues at a property you should seek advice from a surveyor.
- Coal Mining Search;
This will reveal if there was any past coal mining in the area or if there is any present or future intention to do so.
Be careful, one thing that tends to get a lot of press is when Properties fall into sink holes that were previously unknown, for example if there were built on old mine shafts. This search is limited purely to coal mining so if you are worried about other types of mining, seek a search specific to that particular mineral. If you are worried about this contact your conveyancer who can advise about the best search to obtain.
Do you need all of the searches, are they mandatory?
Searches are not mandatory; however some mortgage lenders will not let you purchase a Property without your Conveyancer obtaining searches. Other mortgage lenders may be able to lender to you without searches if you take out a special no search indemnity policy. For more information, see the other articles on indemnity policies or ask your conveyancer. If you are buying with cash and without a mortgage, you would still benefit from searches but they are not mandatory.
Conveyancers can only use the information they obtain from the Seller, Searches and Property Title to advise you on the Property you are purchasing. If you decide to proceed without searches, one third of the information available to your Conveyancer will not be available when you advised about the Property. So be careful, if you are unsure speak with your conveyancer who will most likely advise that you obtain searches.
How long do conveyancing searches take?
It varies, the environmental, drainage and water and coal searches are usually returned within 24 hours. The local search however, is notorious for taking some time to come back and take anywhere between 1-4 weeks. While waiting for this search the rest of the transaction is usually ticking along and is not necessarily holding anything up, however if you are worried that it may hold things up contact your conveyancer as they may be able to offer an alternative solution. For example I sometimes order searches before having any documentation from the Sellers so that by the time the Sellers provide the contracts and title documents, search results are already back.