Conveyancing searches

Carrying out the correct conveyancing searches is crucial for reducing the risk when buying a property.

What are conveyancing searches?

Conveyancing searches are reports commissioned from local authorities, utility companies and other reporting agencies which provide specific background information on the local area.

Search reports include information that you couldn’t ascertain yourself by visually inspecting the site. They can provide an early warning of problems that could be expensive or disruptive down the line. For example, the property you have set your heart on might have liability for church roof repairs. Without doing a search, you would never know until your share of the bill arrived.

There are lots of possible searches but common ones are:-

Local Authority search

This search provides information on:-

  • Planning decisions in your area
  • Road or rail works that are happening soon
  • Some environmental factors such as ground contamination or whether the property is in a radon gas area
  • Charges or restrictions such as tree preservation orders, listed building status and so on.

Land Registry searches

Land Registry searches produce records of the title and plan of the property. This will verify that ownership details are in order. If the owner is revealed to be someone other than the seller, for instance, alarm bells should start ringing.

Water Authority search

Amongst other things, the water authority search reveals:-

  • How the property gets water, including billing and metering arrangements
  • Where the water drains to, and
  • Where the public sewers/drains are in relation to the property

This can be important if you are planning to extend the property but find that there is a public drain running across the garden.

Environmental search

The Local Authority are required to report contaminated land, but their records are not always up to date. It may be that land has become recently contaminated or that the local authority has not checked the land yet.

Environmental Searches crawl large databases of environmental data, digging out information about land use in the area. This includes any landfill, current or former industrial use in the area, radon gas levels, flood predictions and ground stability.

Plan Search Plus

A Plan Search Plus search provides further information about the wider local area to where you are looking to move. As well as school tables, local amenities and crime rates it also provides details of planning applications for the local area. This will tell you if a large new housing estate or industrial estate is planned for the area.

Other local searches

There are plenty of additional searches that may be appropriate for the property you are buying. You may want a Chancel repair liability search to ascertain whether you will be on the hook for costly church repairs as a by-product of buying your home. There are also mining searches for properties in mining areas, which indicate mining activity present and past, the potential for subsidence due to mining, etc.

Local searches can be a hidden cost

Some firms leave out the cost of local searches to make their quotation look cheaper.

We don’t do that.

Any quotation from Inghams will include a full breakdown of searches and their cost, as well as any other disbursements. When comparing quotes, make sure they are for the whole job, start to finish, including everything that you are expected to pay for.

If you instruct us to handle your conveyancing we will discuss all the search results with you to ensure that you are fully informed about the property. We can also arrange for any optional searches which you may want for your own peace of mind and go through these as well.