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What Are Searches?

What are 'Searches' ?

Searches are reports that contain information from a Local Authority, Water Authority or Environmental Data Supplier that could adversely affect the property you wish to buy or sell.

They are always needed by a solicitor or conveyancer when acting for a purchaser buying with a mortgage, as the mortgage lender will insist on ensuring that the results have been seen prior to exchange of contracts so as to ensure that their lending risk is minimised.  Given the importance that a Lender placed on them, they are equally important to the buyer given the risk that they would otherwise be taking.


Searches have traditionally been ordered by a Solicitor / Conveyancer by using the purchasers funds to pay for them at a point in the conveyancing process.  Sometimes they are not ready to place an order for several weeks which can delay the buyer getting to see important information that could affect whether they wish to proceed or not.  In the meantime,  costs are mounting up as money is being spent on surveys, mortgage reservation fees and putting legal representatives in funds. 

By paying for and ordering your own Searches, you will see the results sooner, make smarter decisions and help to speed up the transaction.

Why you should take control?

So you have agreed, or are about to agree, to buy a property and already you are feeling the pressure to get on with the purchase. You have shopped around and found a Solicitor / Conveyancer, or, been introduced to one by the Estate Agent or your Mortgage Broker and have been provided with quotes.


But just how much of that quote can you influence?

Things that are marked on the quote called disbursements are products that your Solicitor buys from a third party supplier using your money. The prices of some of these disbursements will vary from Solicitor to Solicitor because they have different suppliers with differing commercial terms.  So why should you be told where to get your Searches from? You are paying for them after-all.

Invariably payment is taken from you by your Solicitor to cover a few costs such as requesting a Land Charges Search, as well as ensuring that they have funds on account to pay for your Searches when they feel the time is right. The Solicitor will place an order for those Searches as soon as they receive a contract pack from the Sellers Solicitors (if they are on the ball) and then will receive those Searches between 2 days and 25 weeks or more later, depending on the Local Authority or supplier that they are using.

Unfortunately, 'you' are unlikely to see the results of the Searches, that you have paid for, until such time as the Solicitor reports to you; which will be just before you legally commit to the purchase. A little late in our minds.

Why don't you get to see them sooner anyway?

Your Solicitor, is also working for your mortgage provider. They will check the Search results to ensure that they meet with the Lenders requirements so that they are happy to lend the money for the purchase and take all the risk that comes with that.  But shouldn't you want to know the results as soon as possible so that YOU can decide whether you want to continue to buy the property?

There are a number of Searches that will be obtained on your behalf that will be returned within a day or two. But you won't get to see them until much later in the process. These can include a Ground Report and an Environmental Report, both of which contain information that will ensure that you are totally aware of what you are buying.

Consider it like a multi point check on a used car, but, unlike a survey that considers the structure and condition of a property, these reports tell you about the environmental impact and ground stability of the property location.  DO NOT BE FOOLED that the current owners or the new build developers have actually looked at what lies beneath, or whether they are aware of any risk of flooding, Radon Gas or Ground Instability issues. But you can be.

Consider when buying a second hand car from a stranger. Most people will get an HPI check and a report from the AA or RAC to look at the condition of the car before they commit to the purchase. That car may be £800 or £20,000. A property is considerably more expensive and yet adequate checks about the ground and environment are not looked at early enough in the buying process to ensure that you, the purchaser, is adequately informed.

What are the recommended reports to consider?

At Property Searches Direct, we recommend that every buyer at least obtains a HomeCheck Pro Environmental report or considers the Groundsure Homebuyers report (the latter is contained as standard in our Residential Purchase Search Pack).

These are comprehensive and easy to read reports that cover key areas of importance.

  1. Contaminated Land - offering peace of mind that the land that the property is built on is free from contamination that can seriously affect value and mortgage-ability

  2. Flood Screen - better to know whether the property is at risk of flooding from rivers, coastal waters or surface water and ensure that Insurance is available and affordable. You don't want to be getting your feet wet watching TV.

  3. Ground Stability - Is the property at risk of mineral extraction activity or in an area where properties have suffered from movement? (Man-Made (Mining) or Natural factors (Geological))

  4. Radon - Is the property located in a Radon infected area? Radon is a Radioactive Gas occurring naturally in rocks and soils. It can't be seen, felt, heard or tasted, but is a major cause of lung cancers.

  5. Other Influential Factors - is the property affected by restrictions as a result of Sites of Specific Scientific Interest, Special Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, National Parks and many more.

  6. In the Groundsure Homebuyers report you will also get an Energy & Infrastructure report that will cover whether there is a risk of proximity to HS2, Fracking, Solar and Wind Farms.

These reports all come with a Professional Opinion and Recommendations and are covered by a Professional Indemnity (PI) cover of £10 million. They are compiled using the best available data from the industry, such as the Environmental Agency, JBA Consulting as well as Landmark's or Groundsure's extensive data sets.

All reports can be found in our shop in our packs and are usually returned within 1-2 working days and will be emailed to you as soon as they are complete. Our hazard Checker will confirm the environmental risks that you should investigate.

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Whether you are a home seller, buyer, property professional or conveyancer, we deliver exceptional customer service 7 days a week.

We are available to help identify the reports most suited for the transaction and deliver bespoke solutions for home movers.

Don't just take our word for it

Integrated Solutions

No matter what you need our systems are integrated with the largest suppliers in the industry to ensure that you get the report you need as quickly as possible.

When you place an order with us, our systems will engage a vast network of suppliers to cater for Local Authority Searches, Environmental reports from Groundsure, Landmark, FCI and more as well as Drainage & Waters reports for property transactions throughout England & Wales.  All supplied reports comply with lender requirements, are CoPSO Regulated, Search Code Compliant and from Property Codes Compliance Board registered suppliers.

Reports are distributed as they complete to you and your conveyancer to save time.


Find the planning, building control and highways data you need for property and land in England and Wales.

We utilise the OneSearch Direct network of agents to deliver accurate Local Authority Searches as quickly as possible.

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We bundle up products into Search Packs to save you money. See our packs HERE

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