Buying a House

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Conveyancing searches are an essential part of the home buying process in the UK and usually, following your mortgage offer, your lender will specify which searches they need to be completed so that they know there are no issues attached to the property. They involve searches on the property being bought and the surrounding area. […]

Conveyancing searches are an essential part of the home buying process in the UK and usually, following your mortgage offer, your lender will specify which searches they need to be completed so that they know there are no issues attached to the property.

They involve searches on the property being bought and the surrounding area. This is to make sure there are no restrictions that could impact the purchase of the property. The length of time these searches take varies depending on several factors.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Typically, searches take a few weeks, but the length of time can vary and they can take as long as 6 weeks to complete.  The best way to speed up the length of time it takes for searches to take place is to keep in regular contact with your solicitor.

How Long Does it Take Between the Exchange of Contracts and Completion?

Once contracts are exchanged your solicitor will send the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitor and formal completion occurs. Usually, the exchange takes place a week before completion, but it can occur on the same day if need be.

Is it Possible To Exchange Contracts and Complete on the Same Day?

Yes, exchange and completion can happen on the same day, especially if there is no housing chain. However, one risk of doing this is that you will have to arrange things like removals before the contract is legally binding so run the risk of losing money and having to rearrange things if there are any delays.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take With No Chain?

When you buy a property, conveyancing typically takes around 3 months with no chain. However, this is dependent on several factors, including the caseload of the conveyancer.

What Specific Searches Are Involved in Conveyancing?

Environmental Searches

Environmental searches check if the property could be affected by flooding, contaminated land such as a landfill site or potential mining substance. These search results typically take 1-2 weeks.

Local Authority Searches

Local authority searches are the most common type of search to check for any planning or building regulations that could affect the property. They will also show who is responsible for maintaining roads and paths adjoining the property and highlight any pollution issues. Local Authority searches 1-6 weeks.

Land Registry Searches

Land Registry searches show shows unique title numbers, who owns it, what they paid for it, any rights of way over the property and what charges or debts are registered against it.

Water Authority Searches

Water searches ensure that the property is connected to mains water and drainage systems. These searches are important as they could affect you if you want to do any future building work on the property. They include who owns and maintains the sewers, drainage and piping, if the property is connected to a public water supply, if the water is metered or rateable, the location of the public sewer and drainage pipes and whether you will need permission from the water company to extend the property.

Location Specific Searches

Depending on the location of the property, for example, a former mining site, additional searches may be required.

Chancel Searches

A chancel repair search identifies whether the property is subject to chancel repair liability, which is a legal obligation to pay for repairs to the local church. These searches typically take around 2 weeks.

What is Usually Checked During Conveyancing?

  • Boundary checks and previous disputes, so you know who will be liable for the cost of repairs
  • Shared utility supply, knowing where pipes and cables are located
  • EPC flags, information about energy use and costs
  • Historical buildings/development works and relevant planning permission
  • Building regulations and certifications from works completed
  • Leasehold information, length of lease and conditions applied
  • Property use and any limitations on use
  • Land restrictions to regulate transactions
  • Shared access/right of way
  • Constraints with altering the property
  • Associated costs that need to be paid by the owner of the property

What Issues Can Conveyancing Uncover?

  • Flood risks near the property.
  • Whether the property is situated in a conservation area
  • Evidence of subsidence, mines, landslips, historical landfills, and other hazards
  • Local compulsory purchases or enforcement notices
  • Recent planning application agreed or in motion
  • Any infrastructure work to be undertaken by the local council
  • Draining or water supply issues
  • Previous or ongoing boundary disputes

What Can Cause Delays?

  • Issues with the local authority or search providers, such as staffing, backlogs or system failures
  • Unforeseen issues or restrictions uncovered during the search process may require additional searches or negotiations with the seller.
  • Complex legal issues that require additional searches or input from specialist lawyers.
  • Delays in receiving information or documentation from the seller, such as deeds or planning permission.
    Issues with the property that require further investigation, such as subsidence or structural issues.

Without a Property Survey, You Could End Up With:

  • Regular floods on your property or in the road outside
  • A debt attached to the property, which you will be liable for
  • Risk of part of the property collapsing due to the property being built on a mineshaft
  • A property which is right next to a piece of land which is planned for the development of a major train line
  • A property which sits on toxic land from a former industrial site

The length of time it takes to complete conveyancing searches can vary depending on the type of search and any issues that arise. It is important to use an experienced conveyancing solicitor who can manage the process and keep you informed of any delays or issues that arise. Being prepared to be patient during the process and keeping in regular contact with your conveyancer will help to ensure a smooth and stress-free home-buying process.

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