Searches when Buying a House. What you need to know

When comes to buying a property, your solicitor carries out the conveyancing process, which implies various searches before your property purchase can go through. Is important that these property searches to be rigorously done as you do not want later on, for example, to discover that actually a part of your garden is not yours or actually a highway can be built through it.

As you probably know, throughout a buying a property process are some steps which are more important than others or better said are perceived as less important. However, when comes to searches when buying a house, this is a vital step and should be rigorously done without no exception.

Searches are done to ensure that the property you are buying is not about to have a major road built right next to it, or will be overshadowed by a new block of flats, submerged in a potential flood, the HM Land Registry title shows the entire garden, among other things.

Searches or ” the Property Searches” are checks carried out by your solicitor on the local area of your home. Are basically looking on different authorities portals for any historical issues in the area that might affect the home you are buying or future planning developments.

There are different types of searches your solicitor will conduct once you instruct them to do it. Here are the main searches a property will need.

  • Local authority searches – Planning issues, Building control issues, Highways issues, Rail schemes, Pollution issues, Listed status, Subject to a tree preservation order or if the property is in a conservation area
  • Flood risk searches – The property is at risk of flooding by being in a risk area.
  • Environmental searches – Landslide issues, Subsidence issues, Contaminated land issues, , Coal mining and minings searches, Gaz hazards or landfill sites in the area
  • Water, drainage or services searches – The property status if is connected to a public water supply and sewer, If are any public sewer pipeline passing your land, if you need permission from water company if you want to extend your property
  • Land Registry searches – Title register and Title plan recordings will be checked to ensure are up to date and if the current owner has the right to actually sell the property

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Depending on the search type, some responses can take a few days, others can take several weeks. However, on average, the latest surveys showed that buyer will wait around around 14 to 18 days to hear from their solicitor about their main property searches (keep in mind that sometimes, further searches can be required).

Therefore, it is vital to know what needs to be done and to be on the case with your solicitor to ensure any authority searches are their top priority.

We highly recommend that once your offer has been accepted and you commissioned your building survey, to request your solicitor a timetable with what searches are been carried over and when will be completed by.

As with any service, will depend on property size and location. Is the same in this case, the cost of searches varies from council to council, but for the local authority, environmental and water searches, you would pay around £300 – £350. 

Here is a potential estimate brokedown of the fees: Local authority search : £50 – £250, Water and drainage search: £50 – £100, Environmental search: £25 – £50, Flooding searches: £20 – £50, Mining search: £25 – £125, Title register & plan: £10 – £20.

If you are purchasing a home using a mortgage, conducting searches is mandatory as per legal requirements. 

Any property searches are a legal obligation when comes to buying a house through any bank or building societies want to be sure that are not any issues that can affect the value of the property.

However, if you are a cash buyer, then searches are optional. Even you do not require a mortgage, your solicitor and surveyor will advise carrying out these searches as you do not want any surprises down the road.


After your “to-be home” searches are completed the solicitor will explain those results and we highly recommend to request a call with your solicitor to ensure you have understood all the details. 

It is his job to highlight any issues, but ultimately it is your decision whether to proceed with buying a property or not. So, do not be afraid to ask any question you have and you are 100% sure you have all the right information before your decision making.


Written by Danil P.
6th May 2022 (Last updated on 10th May 2023)
4 minute read
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