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Moving Home 101: What Are Conveyancing or Property Searches?

When purchasing a home in England or Wales, all legal papers must be reviewed and authorised. Then the property’s status should be examined by a surveyor. At the same time your conveyancing solicitor must acquire and verify a wealth of information in comprehensive searches.

Your conveyancer will conduct conveyancing or property searches as part of the home-buying process. They collaborate with the local authority and other organisations to learn what they can about the property. They also search for any local development plans that may impact the property you want to buy.

Types of Property Searches 

Every residential property transaction includes a number of searches, included in the estimate you get from your conveyancing solicitor. All mortgage lenders will demand that they be carried out to protect their investment. If you are not buying with a mortgage searches are not a legal requirement but for peace of mind and security that the property is a good investment searches are a very good idea.

1. Local Authority Search

The major search will be done with your local authority, as law requires them to save all property information. It will handle issues such as the adoption of public roadways, the specifics of planning applications, and any outstanding costs. 

Based on the answers, you will receive a report about the property you are purchasing.

2. Water and Drainage Search

A water and drainage search is also needed to confirm that the property has a water supply linked to public sewers. It will also indicate whether any sewers are running through the property that might affect any changes made or planned and who handles the water supply and billing. If any problems emerge, the buyer will be notified.

3. Search for Properties Within Coal Mining Areas

It is critical to understand whether mining activity has produced any issues with ground stability and whether there are any shafts in the area. If there are any, it may be required to conduct a Mine Shaft Entry Report to ensure that they have been dealt with properly.

4. Environmental Search 

An environmental search is also needed to check if the land was or is contaminated. Even if it was caused a long time ago, you, as the possible owner, may be accountable for costly remedial work. 

The environmental search will issue you a certificate stating the hazard level of your property. It will then be forwarded to you for review with a surveyor, if necessary, and to determine what actions must be completed before proceeding with the purchase.

5. Chancel Repair 

A chancel repair search is one of several supplementary searches that may be undertaken in certain instances.

Every home in the country is part of a parish and hence potentially liable for chancel repairs. Unfortunately, locating damaged properties is difficult and often prohibitively expensive.

The Law Society is attempting to alter the laws to prevent chancel repair expenses from becoming an issue. Meanwhile, every property in England and Wales is technically liable for parish church maintenance. Chancel repair can often be covered with an insurance policy. 

6. Other Searches That May Be Required

Depending on the property’s location, other popular searches may include:

  • A search for local commons land or village greens
  • Cheshire brine extraction and Cornish mining (if applicable)
  • A Plan Plus search if you’re moving to a new area (phone line statistics on nearby telephone towers, housing and population, and planning applications since 1977)
  • A flood risk analysis investigates flood history
  • An HS2 search that focuses on the planned train link


Post-search procedures include a solicitor’s report describing any steps required concerning the searches and any issues encountered. If you are still interested after the searches and any additional information from the seller’s lawyers, you can proceed with the purchase.

Even if you don’t need a mortgage, searches are an essential part of the process. They provide you with a complete image of the property, allowing you to make an informed decision about purchasing it.

Conveyancing Supermarket offers the best conveyancing quotes and fixed-fee conveyancing costs in England and Wales. Our expert property solicitors ensure a smooth and swift resolution. Now is the moment to utilise our conveyancing calculator to quickly and easily compare conveyancer fees. Contact us today!

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