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How Long Do Property Searches Take?

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated September, 16, 2022

How long do property searches take? 

Property or conveyancing searches are an essential part of the buy/sale process and can take anywhere around 2 weeks or more. 

In this article, we’ll explain what they are, how they work, and which one you’ll need before sealing the deal. 

Let’s dive in.

What Searches Are Carried Out By Conveyancers?

Conveyancing searches, commonly known as property searches, are enquiries that seek to identify potential risks with the property you’re planning to buy. 

These searches are carried out by the conveyancer before the exchange of contracts and completion, and they reveal all the information a buyer needs to determine whether to move forward with the purchase.

The three main searches done when buying a house are:

Local Authority search

Local authority searches are broken down into two parts: a Local Land Charges certificate (LLCI) search and a CON29 questionnaire. 

The LLCI search will tell you whether your property is:

  • A listed building.
  • Is located in a conversation area.
  • Is in a smoke control area.
  • Is subject to tree preservation orders.

The Con29 looks at:

  • Railway schemes/proposals.
  • Public footpaths.
  • Building control regulations.
  • Assets of community value.
  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Local authority searches are often a legal requirement. If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy a property, the mortgage lender will require you to complete certain searches before they approve the mortgage loan. 

Environmental searches

These searches can identify issues such as land contamination, former and current industrial uses, the presence of toxic substances, risk of flooding or landslip, and whether the house might require underpinning.

Water and drainage search

A water and drainage search will tell you whether the property is connected to a public water supply, if it is close to public sewers and water mains and whether it has a public sewer running within its boundaries.

Additional Searches For Buying a House

Additional searches are generally optional, but your mortgage broker may recommend them for a better deal, depending on the location of the property. They include:

  • Coal mining searches: If your property is built in an area that used to be mined, this search will tell you if it was affected in any way.
  • Planning searches: A search into possible developments in or near the area you’re planning to buy. It can reveal information like whether your neighbours have planning permission for a large extension or if there are plans for building a new object nearby.
  • Chancel liability searches: This search reveals whether you’ll be liable to pay for the maintenance of the local church.
  • Commons registration searches: A search that will find whether the property is in a rural area or built around or next to common land. Property that’s registered as common cannot be accessed by vehicles.
  • Property-specific searches: Other searches that can be carried out that are specific to each property, including:
    • Boundary checks.
    • Shared access and rights of way.
    • Whether the property is freehold or leasehold.
    • Building regulations and certifications.
    • Anything flagged with the energy performance certificate (EPC)

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How Long Do Property Searches in the UK Take?

Property searches are conducted at the start of the conveyancing process and can take anything between 2-8 weeks to complete. 

Most searches can be carried out online and take between 1-10 days, the Local Authority Search can take up to six weeks if the Local Authority has too many projects on their hands.

The main factors affecting the length of the search are staffing levels and demand, as well as whether the search results are returned electronically via e-mail or by post.

The conveyancing process timeline in the UK will also depend on your solicitor, the location of your property, and the number of searches that you need to complete.

Depending on the results of the searches for property, there are cases when the solicitor will have to make further enquiries which can slow down the entire process.

What Are The Stages Of The Conveyancing Process?

The entire conveyancing process consists of different stages, including:

  • Pre-contract work: The conveyancing process starts once your offer on the property has been formally accepted. The seller will send your solicitor a contract pack with important information about the property, such as planning permissions and type of ownership. The solicitor will then arrange a property survey and carry out the necessary searches for house buying. 
  • Mortgage offer: Once the results of the searches are in, the buyer needs to arrange a mortgage offer and inform the solicitor about the findings. (Here’s how you can save some money with an offset mortgage).
  • Draft contract: The conveyancer has to review all the documentation involved in the process and the findings of the final searches before completion and exchange of contracts. 
  • Exchange of contracts to completion: Finally, the conveyancer will draft a transfer deed and exchange contract with the other party’s solicitor, at which point they’ll set a completion date.  Completion is the final stage of the conveyancing process when the property is legally transferred, and the sale is finalised.

Bottom Line 

Property searches are a good idea for every buyer that wants to know what they’re getting into before they commit to a purchase. These searches reveal crucial information about the area they’re buying into and can make or break any plans the buyer might have for the property in question. 

For that reason, property searches are often mandatory, especially if you’re buying a house with a mortgage. They usually take around 2 weeks but can last longer depending on the number and type of searches required.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

How long does it take to do a search on a property?

Property searches typically take around two weeks to be completed, but some can take longer.

How long does it take to get land searches?

Depending on the local authority staffing levels, season demand levels, as well as whether the results are sent electronically or by post, land searches can take anywhere from 48 hours to up to 6 weeks. 

What do solicitors do after searches?

Once the solicitor receives the results of the searches, they’ll discuss the findings with the buyer. If the buyer is satisfied with the findings, they’ll proceed with signing and exchanging contracts.

How long do property searches take when buying a house in the UK?

Property searches are usually done in two weeks, but they can take up to 6 weeks if the Local Authority is overloaded.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.