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What Searches Do Conveyancing Solicitors Do?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Unsure which searches are required to buy a property? Learn more about conveyancing solicitor searches from the experts here at Wilson Browne Solicitors.

What searches do conveyancing solicitors do?

Professional conveyancing solicitors often perform an essential role when it comes to buying and selling property in the UK, but what do they actually do?

Alongside overseeing the entire property transaction, one of their main roles is to conduct a variety of crucial property searches on behalf of the buyer.  The searches are also required by your lender as part of their requirements if you are having mortgage finance.

To help you understand some of the key responsibilities of a conveyancing solicitor in more detail, the expert residential conveyancing team at Wilson Browne Solicitors explain which searches they carry out and why.

What are the three main searches when buying a house?

When purchasing a property, there are many different pre-exchange conveyancing searches that should be conducted by your solicitor or conveyancer. However, there are three main searches that are considered the most vital when buying a property. This includes:

Local authority search

A local authority search involves sending the search request, usually via a search provider, and requesting council staff to conduct the search using information from the Local Land Charges Register.

Its purpose is to gather as much information as possible about the property, such as whether the property is accessed via an adopted road, is a listed building, located within a conservation area, or has land with trees protected by a preservation order.

Water and drainage search

A water and drainage search is used to identify the property’s sewer connections, water supply, and public drains.

This search is crucial for ensuring that the property is connected to the mains and public drainage system. If the property is not connected to this system, then there are often additional costs involved in managing the property that buyers should be aware of.

Environmental search

An environmental search is conducted with an environmental agency to access historical records and identify past uses of the land and surrounding area. Often required by mortgage lenders, it can be used to determine whether the land you’re purchasing is potentially contaminated.

Contamination can be created by nearby industrial sites, landfills, and petrol sites, for example. This search can also be used to find out more about other environmental risks like flooding and subsidence.

What searches do conveyancing solicitors do?

Alongside the three main conveyancing searches explored above, conveyancing solicitors can also carry out a much wider range of more specific searches.

This can include checks like mining searches (commonly carried out if you’re purchasing a property in or close to an area that was formerly used for mining) and channel repair searches (used to establish whether you’re liable to cover costs relating to the repair of a parish church).

When determining which searches to conduct, the conveyancer or solicitor should take into account a number of factors, such as the location and history of the property.

As a result, the conveyancer or solicitor will report to you on the search results with all the necessary information about the property so that you can make a more informed decision about your property purchase.

Buyers should be made aware of these findings prior to completion, so they have an opportunity to amend or withdraw their offer based on these search results.

How long do conveyancer searches take?

The turnaround time of the search results will vary subject to the location of the property and the particular turnaround time of the local authority specific to the property.  The conveyancer or solicitor is dependent on third parties to provide them with the information, so the competency and speed of the conveyancer or solicitor are irrelevant.

The local authority, water and drainage, and environmental searches are often returned in 4-6 weeks, but they can take up to 8 or even 10 weeks to complete in some cases, depending on the third party’s turnaround time.

Contact Wilson Browne Solicitors today

Alongside conducting all the necessary searches to give you confidence in your new property purchase, our professional residential conveyancing team will also keep an eye on the entire property transaction to ensure everything is running smoothly.

On top of handling all the paperwork and legal details, you’ll also receive a free initial assessment, transparent pricing, and direct access to your legal team when you choose Wilson Browne to support the sale or purchase of your property.

If you’d like to learn more about our residential conveyancing services or fees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today.

At Wilson Browne Solicitors, the first call is always free, so why not give us a call on 0800 088 6004?

Alternatively, you can also speak to us in person by dropping by one of our branches – we have offices in Leicester, Northampton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

No matter how you choose to contact our team, we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Jenny Woodruff


Jenny Woodruff


Jenny is a Partner and head of the Residential Conveyancing Team. She has extensive knowledge of the conveyancing process, including: dealing with freehold and leasehold sales & purchases; new build purchases; remortgages; transfers of equity; shared ownership; help to buy transactions & general property advice.