July 9, 2024

What Searches Are Done When Buying a House?

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what searches are done when buying a house

Conveyancing Searches Explained

Purchasing a property is one of life’s biggest investments. Having complete and accurate information about the property is essential for a successful purchase.

One key step in this process is conducting conveyancing searches to identify any potential issues that could impact your decision to buy. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the essential searches solicitors perform when managing a property purchase:

1. Title Search

Purpose: To verify the seller's legal right to sell the property and to check for any restrictions or encumbrances on the property title. These searches help identify potential issues, such as outstanding mortgages, easements, or restrictive covenants, which could impact the property’s value or future use.

What it involves: A title search examines public records to confirm the property’s legal ownership, identify any liens or claims against it, and ensure there are no legal disputes that could affect the sale.

2. Local Authority Search

Purpose: To gather information about the property and its surrounding area that may impact its value or your enjoyment of the home.

What it involves: Local authority searches investigate various aspects including local land charges, pertinent planning applications, restrictions on developments, road schemes, and environmental issues like contaminated land, among others.

3. Environmental Search

Purpose: To assess potential environmental risks that could affect the property or its value.

What it involves: An environmental search examines historical records of your property and its surroundings to verify the previous use of the land upon which the house is constructed. It will look for issues like flood risk, land contamination, subsidence, and radon gas presence.

4. Water and Drainage Search

Purpose: To confirm that the property is connected to the mains water supply and sewer system and to understand any drainage issues.

What it involves: This search identifies the location of public sewers and drains, checks for any potential water supply issues, and ensures that the property has the necessary drainage rights. It will ensure the property is safe from flooding due to drains and public waterways.

5. Chancel Repair Search (Optional)

Purpose: To determine if the property is liable for chancel repair contributions to the local parish church.

What it involves: Although it may seem outdated, some properties are still subject to chancel repair liability. This search checks if the property falls within a parish that has the right to charge for repairs to the church chancel.

6. Land Registry Search

Purpose: To confirm property boundaries and ownership details.

What it involves: The Land Registry search verifies the official ownership records, checks for any registered charges or restrictions, and provides details about the property’s boundaries.

7. Planning Search (Optional)

Purpose: To uncover any planning permissions or restrictions that might affect the property.

What it involves: This search looks at the planning history of the property, including any granted or denied planning permissions, building regulations approvals, and enforcement actions.


Conducting thorough searches when buying a house is crucial to making an informed decision and avoiding potential pitfalls. These searches provide valuable insights into the property’s legal status, environmental risks, and any local issues that could affect your investment. By understanding what searches are done and why they matter, you can navigate the home-buying process with greater confidence and peace of mind. Always work with a qualified conveyancer or solicitor to ensure all necessary searches are conducted and interpreted correctly.