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Property Purchase Searches Explained

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Searches are an essential part of the property purchasing process and provide important information about the property.

When do you need searches?

Where a mortgage is required - the majority of mortgage companies require a combined search pack to be carried out (Local Authority Search, Drainage/Water search, Environmental Searched and Chancel Check). Some mortgage companies will insist on Official Searches, however some mortgage companies do accept ‘regulated’ searches (see official or regulated?). We always advise Official Searches.

Where a mortgage is not required - it is your choice whether to carry out combined/individual searches, either official or regulated, or proceed without searches. We always advise Official Searches, however should you still wish to proceed without searches we advise that you consider No Search Indemnity Insurance.

What is the difference between Official and Regulated Searches?

Official Searches are carried out by the Local Authority, usually the Council, and are issued by the relevant department within the council. Official Searches are guaranteed by the Local Authority should the buyer incur any losses as a result of any inaccuracies.

Regulated Searches, also known as Personal Searches, are carried out by a third party affiliated with the Council. They are not as thorough as official searches, as local authorities only allow access to certain information in their register. Regulated Searches are not guaranteed by the third party but they provide cover through indemnity insurance.

Regulated Searches are cheaper than Official Searches. As of March 2023 the cost of the regulated combined pack is approx. £195.00 as opposed to the £345.00 for the official combined pack.

Local Authority Search

This is a separate “stand alone” search and will cover any charges or attendant restrictions relating to the property or land. It also supplies information relating to public highways, proposals for new roads, rail schemes or planning decisions that could affect the property, as well as outstanding statutory notices, breaches of planning or building regulations. Environmental factors, such as whether the property stands on contaminated land or is in a Radon gas affected are also covered.

​Drainage and Water Search

This is a separate “stand alone” search. A drainage and water search is simply an enquiry that is made to the local water board to find out information about the sewerage systems and water supply to a property. It reveals information about whether the property / land is connected to the public water supply and public sewers, the location of water supplies and sewers, whether any pipes are laid within the boundaries of the property / land and service providers of sewage and water supply.

Environmental Search

This is a separate “stand alone” search and is recommended by the Law Society, in particular, following legislation relating to contaminated land. An environmental search will highlight several environmental factors within a given radius of a property which could adversely affect it. The risk of flooding, Radon or subsidence are indicated, the proximity of contaminated land and energy sources (i.e. wind farms / electrical pylons, etc.) within the given radius are shown.

Chancel Search

A Chancel Check report will reveal whether a property is within a parish where a potential chancel repair liability exists. When there is no risk of any liability for chancel repairs, a Certificate will be issued to confirm this.

Other searches may include:

Bankruptcy Search

This shows if any of the buyers have been declared bankrupt in the past and this is a required search if there is a lender.

OS1 Search

Application by purchaser for official search with priority of the whole of the land in a registered title or a pending first registration application. This is done prior to completion to ensure there has been no entries made to the title register since we obtained the office copies and to ensure for a period that the purchaser can be the only one able to make an application to the land registry to change the title.

Commons Land Search

This is a separate search enquiry, supplemental to the Local Authority search, and should reveal whether any part of the property is registered as common land or as town or village green.


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