There are a lot of different stages involved in buying a house, and within the conveyancing process itself. One important step that should be factored in – both in terms of time and cost – are property searches. But what do searches involve, and how long do house searches take?
What are property searches and who needs them?
Searches are checks that are made on a house or flat during conveyancing, which is the process by which a property legally changes hands. If you’re buying a house, you should always expect searches to be made by your conveyancing solicitor.
If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender will require certain searches to be carried out, and they will ask your solicitor to do this.
If you are a cash buyer, searches are not a legal requirement. However, they are still highly recommended, because they are designed to flag up any potential issues with the property before you take ownership of it.
Types of property searches include:
- Local authority searches – looking for development plans in the immediate areas, pollution levels and planning issues
- Environmental searches – providing information about things like contaminated land or landfill sites that might exist near the property, the risk of flooding or ground instability and radon gas hazards
- Water authority searches – checking the water source to the property, as well as drainage and any impact this might have on future building works
- Land registry searches – designed to prove that the seller is the legal owner of the property
- Chancel repair search – checking whether the owner of the property is liable to help pay for church repairs, under old laws
- Location-specific searches – looking for potential issues specific to the property or part of the country, such as mining searches
How long do house searches take?
You might receive the results of the searches after 48 hours, or it could take a number of weeks. It depends on the local authority’s staffing levels, the speed at which they can provide the information and how quickly your solicitor passes this on to you. Factors such as high demand in the property market also have an impact.
The government’s target for returning local searches is 10 working days, but in reality it can take up to two months, so it’s best to make sure searches are done as early in the conveyancing process as possible, to minimise hold-ups should there be a long wait.
How much do house searches cost?
You will need to pay your solicitor to carry out searches, and that cost will be in addition to your conveyancing fees, so make sure you have factored it into the budget.
The exact cost of searches will depend on how many are carried out and your local authority. As a rough guide, you can expect the local authority searches to cost up to £230, the water searches to cost up to £100 and the environmental searches to cost up to £75.
Planning to buy? Check out our properties for sale in the Salisbury area