Property searches (also known as conveyancing searches) are enquiries made by your solicitor to find out more information about a property you plan to purchase. As part of the home-buying process, your conveyancer will carry out a variety of 'searches' with the local authority and other parties.
The main searches when buying a house:
They typically include aspects such as whether planning permission may be granted for a future development that would negatively impact your property, the quality of the ground on which your house is built or details of common drains and access rights.
The conveyancing searches should be completed and approved before you exchange contracts and legally commit yourself to purchasing the property, as they may highlight planning or structural issues that could either affect the value of the property, or result in additional costs further down the line.
There are over 340 local authorities across the UK. Searches are managed differently depending on your local authority so turnaround time can take between 48 hours to several weeks for your search results to be returned.
Local searches can vary due to the method in which your local authority return search results. For example, if you receive your search results electronically via an online portal or email this will be much quicker than by post.
Many local authorities only have small teams working in the Land Charges departments, so during busy periods it could take longer for them to return your search results.