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You found your dream home, got your mortgage approved even got your survey back but still no sign of those elusive searches! I mean… who really needs them?!?

Below are some of the most  frequently asked questions regarding Searches and a link to a more colourful breakdown of what they actual do.


Q – Who does searches on a property?

A – Searches are completed by your solicitor


Q – Does a buyer need searches?

A – A lender will insist and a solicitor will recommend it


Q- When do searches happen?

A- Before exchange


Q- How long do searches take?

A- In a normal market around 2 weeks currently anything from 6-12 weeks


Q- How can I fast track searches during Covid?

A- A ‘No-search indemnity insurance’ has now been accepted by mortgage lenders. This greatly speeds up the process and protects you if anything is fundamentally wrong with the property. Covering you for legal defence and compensation.


Q- How long do searches last for and can you get your new buyer’s solicitor to accept them?

A – Around about 3 – 6 months. If a sale has fallen through and you find another buyer within this time a new solicitor may accept them, saving you and your buyer time but they are under no obligation to.


Q – What are searches and what is their purpose?


A- Local authority searches – The local authority involving the property will be asked to declare:

  • Prospective planning permission or restrictions on the property and immediate vicinity
  • Who is responsible for maintaining roads and paths adjoining the property

Timeline – 1 to 6 weeks to complete 

Cost –  £70 – £300 depending on the authority.


Land Registry searches – Proof the seller is the legal owner

The ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ is checked with the Land Registry. 

TImeline – Immediately online

Cost – Approximately £7 each 


Environmental searches – Informs buyers of past uses of the land and if there may be any underlying issues. These are vital as they could have an adverse impact on insurance premiums, mortgage-ability and property value.

For example:

  • Check if the land or water has previously been contaminated or used as landfill 
  • Flood risk
  • Subsidence
  • Mobile mast existing or potential in the vicinity
  • Pylons and electricity transmission lines within 500 metres of the property

Timeline – Typically 24-48 hours 

Cost – On average £25-60 more if a substantial amount of land


Water authority searches – tells you everything you need to know about the properties water supply, useful if you ever do work to the property

  • Where your water comes from 
  • If there are any public drains on the property 
  • Where and how the property is connected to the sewer 

Cost – £50-100

Timeline – 48 hours


Location specific searches – Depending on where you buy your solicitor may want to do further searches for example if there is the possibility of unstable ground due to mining or subsidence. 

Timeline – 24-72 hours

Cost – £30-£120  


Chancel repair search – Tells you if liable for the cost of any repairs to the local parish church. This is definitely worth doing to avoid any unexpected costs further down the line. 


Cost – free to £100 

Timeline – 1-10 days

Click here for a more palatable PDF version – property searches