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Property searches

What are property searches?

Ella Jukwey
Written by  Ella Jukwey
Jonathan Leggett
Reviewed by  Jonathan Leggett
5 min read
Updated: 07 May 2024

When you buy a house, you’ll have to carry out a property search. In this guide, MoneySuperMarket explains how it works

What is a property search? 

Property searches, also known as conveyancing searches, are checks carried out on the local area of the home you’re looking to purchase. Your solicitor will conduct a property search. These searches will find out if there any upcoming planning developments, environmental issues and if the seller is the registered homeowner of the property you’re looking to buy. Property searches are legally required if you’re buying with a mortgage. If you’re a cash buyer, you don’t have to carry out a property search but it’s highly recommended.  

mortgages

What are the main property searches? 

Different types of properties will require different searches. For example, if your property is near a church you’ll need to undertake a chancel repair search. Most houses will need to have the following type of searches: 

Local authority searches 

Who carries it out: Local authority employees at the Local Land Charges Register 

What does it reveal: This type of check investigates any planning, building control, pollution and highway problems. Local authority searches will also find out if a property is listed in a conservation area or subject to a tree preservation order.  

Why it’s necessary: The findings from these searches will reveal if there’s any major planning work that will affect your future home. 

Environmental searches 

Who carries it out: An environmental agency. 

What does it reveal: This type of search will uncover any contaminated land, landslide, flooding and subsidence problems. This search will also let you know if there are landfill sites or gas hazards in the local area. If this search isn’t done, your lender might not confirm your mortgage.  

Why it’s necessary: Environmental searches are crucial, because if you’re unaware of potential issues that could affect your new home it will be difficult to sell it in the future.  

Water authority 

Who carries it out: The company responsible for providing water services in the local area. 

What does it reveal: Water and drainage searches find out about sewer connections and water supply to your potential home. Water and drainage checks will also find out if the water supply is rateable or metered. 

Why it’s necessary: Water issues could affect your plans if you’d like to build an extension. 

Land registry search 

Who carries it out: Your solicitor.  

What does it reveal: This search proves that the person selling the home is the legal owner of the house you’re going to buy. This is done by checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’.  Once this has been completed, your solicitor will register you as the new legal owner of the property. 

Why is it necessary: This check is a legal requirement for purchasing a property. 

How much do property searches cost? 

 How much you’ll end up paying for your property search will largely depend on your local council. The table below provides a rough estimate of what you could pay: 

Type of search 

Typical costs 

Local authority 

£50 -£250 

Water authority 

£50 - £100 

Title register (copy) 

£3-£7 

Title plan (copy) 

£3- £7 

Environmental search 

£25-£60 

How long do property searches take?  

Some property searches will take longer than others as there may be more to uncover. However, expect the checks to take up several 12-16 weeks. You could speed up the process by arranging your mortgage as soon as possible and sorting out the necessary paperwork beforehand. Buying a property is an important financial decision, which will take a long time so don’t expect your property searches to be over and done with immediately.  

Other useful guides 

If you want to know more about the homebuying process, we have a range of guides you can read: 

How much does it cost to buy your first home? 

What are the pros and cons of having a mortgage? 

Mortgage eligibility explained 

Comparing mortgages with MoneySuperMarket  

It’s simple to compare mortgages from a range of leading lenders with MoneySuperMarket. Whatever type of mortgage you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. You can compare fixed-rate, tracker and discount mortgages with our mortgage comparison tool. We’ll just ask you some questions about the type of property you’d like and how much you’ll need to borrow. Our handy comparison tool highlights the important information such as the initial interest rate, monthly repayments and any product fees you’ll have to pay.