Posted 29 Jun 2022

Property Searches: What Searches Are Done And How Long Do They Take?

buy / house / moving / property searches

Find out more about what property searches are and how they work here.

Property searches (also known as ‘conveyancing searches’) are an important part of buying a house or flat – but they can be intimidating for first time buyers.

When doing research, tons of information and terminology will be thrown in your face and you might find yourself feeling confused.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone – we’ve all been there!

To help get you started, I’ll cover the basics of property searches:

What is a property search?

When buying a property, you may want to use a first time buyer checklist to make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes.

If you’re buying with a mortgage, the lender will most likely require a property search.

Your conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer will carry out all the relevant searches.

These searches will ensure the property is correctly valued, there are no hidden faults with it, and its legal description and boundary lines are accurate.

However, even if you are a cash buyer, you may wish to commission your own property search to ensure you have all the important information about the property before purchasing it.

In this situation, I would advise hiring your own independent conveyancer, who should be accredited by either RICS or the RPSA.

The information gathered from your property searches will provide you with additional information that may influence your purchase decision.

What property searches are done when buying a house?

There are three main property searches carried out when buying a house:

1. Water and drainage search 

The first required property search is a water and drainage search (CON29DW).

This is conducted to confirm that the property is connected to the municipal water supply and drainage system.

If property searches are optional for you and you decide against them, you may find you end up paying the high maintenance costs for a private system.

A water and drainage search will also show:

  • Previous internal sewage flooding and future risk
  • Location of the water meter
  • Charges for water
  • Classification of water supply

The information gathered from a CON29DW may vary depending on the company hired.

2. Environmental search

Environmental searches are another important type of property search that should be conducted before buying a new home.

These property searches check for:

  • Soil contamination
  • Flood risk
  • Landslide risk
  • Subsidence issues
  • Gas hazards
  • Nearby landfill sites

Checking for soil or land contamination is vital to ensure you aren’t held responsible for funding the cost of decontamination, which can be very expensive.

Assessing the risk of damage due to flooding, landslides, subsidence or gas hazards is also essential as these can impact not only the value of your home and your ability to acquire home insurance, but also your health.

Prior to your property search, you can check if your property is in a flood risk zone using the government’s flood risk map.

3. Local Authority Search

Local authority searches have two mandatory parts: a Local Land Charge Register (LLC1) search and a CON29 form.

An LLC1 reveals information on the following things:

    • Listed building status
    • Conservation areas
    • Smoke control areas
    • Current tree preservation orders
    • Financial charges registered against the property
    • Conditional planning permissions

Next, a CON29 provides information on issues including:

Your mortgage lender or conveyancing solicitor may also determine that the optional CON29O search is necessary. This may come at an extra cost, depending on your solicitor.

The CON29O includes information related to:

  • Private road proposals
  • Land maintenance notices
  • Pollution notices
  • Noise abatement orders

Water and drainage, environmental and local authority searches are the three primary searches conducted when buying a new home.

However, your conveyancer may advise conducting other searches depending on the individual circumstances of the property.

What additional property searches may be needed?

1. Chancel repair search

If you’re buying a property in England or Wales, this search will reveal if chancel repair liability applies to the property.

If so, the homeowner will be liable to contribute to repairs to the chancel of the church; these costs can be expensive.

As a prospective buyer, you should check if a property falls under such an obligation. If liable, I would strongly advise getting chancel repair insurance.

2. Land registry search

A land registry search consists of three parts: the property summary, title register and title plan.

The property summary shows the address, description, tenure type, any ‘restrictive covenants’ (agreements not to do specific things with the land) and any ‘easements’ (rights of one piece of land over another).

The title register includes the title number, owner, last sale price, mortgage status, and information on restrictive covenants and easements.

A title plan shows the property’s location and boundaries.

The property summary can be accessed free of charge, while the title register and title plan cost £3 each. You can start your land registry search on the government’s website.

3. Commons search

Common land refers to land that is owned by one or more individuals privately, by the National Trust or by a local council, who are allowed to utilise the land and resources.

While citizens have the right to roam, for example walking or running, certain common land has rights that allow for more activities.

In England, around 3% of the land area is common land.

This property search should be done if your future property is in a rural area or can be accessed through open land.

If some of the property is on common land, certain developments are not allowed.

4. Energy and infrastructure search

During this property search, the surveyor looks for nearby developments in energy or infrastructure. These may include solar and wind farms, sewage works or high-speed rail developments.

Such developments will influence the property’s value depending on its proximity.

5. Mining search

This type of property search is not necessary in most areas in the UK and is mostly for the benefit of the mortgage lender.

Nonetheless, it is something to be mindful of if the property is situated in an area where mining has occurred as the ground could be unstable or contaminated.

How much does a property search cost?

You may be asking yourself, ‘how much will all of this cost me?’

That’s a tough question to answer.

There are various factors to consider, like the property’s location, size, surveyor and how many searches are done.

To be on the safe side, I’d advise allocating £1,000 – £1,500 for property searches.

How long do property searches take?

You’re probably eager to secure your new property – so you may be wondering, ‘how long do property searches take?’

The duration of conveyancing searches often relies on the local authority search, which could take several weeks, depending on the current workload.

In contrast, environmental searches and water and drainage searches are usually quicker.

The whole process could take 2-6 weeks. However, various factors can influence how long property searches will take, including:

  • Property size
  • Location
  • Availability of surveyors
  • Number of required searches

At the end of the day, it’s all part of the process – and the most important thing is to make sure everything has been checked thoroughly.

Summary: property searches

So, in reality, there is no certain answer to the questions ‘what property searches are done when buying a house?’ and ‘how long do property searches take?’

The number and duration of property searches will depend on each property’s individual circumstances.

However, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to ensure your new home is safe and complies with all necessary regulations.

Never let a short delay dissuade you from buying your dream home!

If you’d like to know more about property searches, you may want to seek professional advice, for example from the HomeOwners Alliance.

If you’re ready to make your next move, get in touch with Fine Living today!


Simon was a great agent. Understood what we were looking for, excellent communication and a very nice guy to work. Would highly recommend.

Luke Russo


Jack and Simon done an incredible job working around the current restrictions with the pandemic and managed to secure a sale on our property within months. They took on all the strain and pressure of securing a sale within a tight timeframe and made us feel at ease. They took every precaution to ensure we were safe during viewings and ensured everyone followed strict rules to ensure our safety and the safety of others. Both were great at communicating and offered constructive advice throughout that helped secure our sale. Thank you both for everything

Amal Jaber


Simon is one of the best estate agents I have ever worked with. He really cares about looking after his clients and properties and makes the whole process easy and stress free. Would highly recommend

Manal Shaker


Renting our first London apartment through Simon was an incredible experience! Handling everything from abroad was made effortless by Simon's exceptional assistance. He accommodated our requests promptly, addressing all queries without delay. Our experience was flawless, and we're immensely grateful to Simon. We highly recommend his services to anyone seeking to rent in London, especially from overseas.

Zvika Weksler


Simon is absolutely fantastic to work with. He is authentic, honest and trustworthy. As first time renters in London, Simon explained everything to us and remained accessible throughout the entire process. Definitely the best agent experience we have had.

Jackson Smith


I've known Simon for quite a while now and his expertise and effort to attend to clients/tenants queries and problems are second to none. Simon is efficient, which comes from his years of experience and therefore things get sorted quickly. In a time where things are so fast paced, it's nice to know there is someone competent in charge dealing with the situation.



I engaged Simon and Fine Living for the legal work on letting my home, his knowledge of the lettings market and the legal aspects made me feel very comfortable using him. We’ve got a great tenant and Simon is available should I need him for any assistance.

Kirk Smith


Simon has been great throughout all the process. He is extremely professional and reliable, I would definitely recommend him.

Luca Baldini


I had a very smooth collaboration with Simon who was reactive, a good adviser and kind. Thank you for the great service!

margot chollet


Simon was fantastic as both a lettings and sales agent. Very communicative and flexible in his approach.

Chloe Nankivell


Simon is professional, pragmatic and efficient. He gives us great confidence that our properties are being managed well.



Simon has been a great guide and support throughout our tenancy. He was always available, helpful and he managed the communication with our landlord perfectly.

Paul Biard


The service received from Simon was excellent. From ensuring all maintenance jobs were attended to, all legal requirements were adhered to and actually finding the tenant. A very seamless process. Would highly recommend.

Jennifer Nursiah


I had a very smooth collaboration with Simon who was reactive, a good adviser and kind. Thank you for the great service!

margot ch


Can’t thank Simon enough for helping us secure our first flat here in London. He was super helpful during the whole process and was always available for any questions. We are really happy!

Abby Wilson


Simon has been an excellent professional. He was very helpful and trustworthy since the first time I visited the flat. He went out of his way to make sure my needs and the landlord's were met and the lease signed as quickly as possible. In the uncertain environment of the London property market, having Simon's help was invaluable.

Nicola Speranza


This is truly a unicorn of an organization! Simon is approachable, thoughtful, and extremely knowledgeable about his property. He made the entire process completely painless from the viewing through to signing the lease. He’s incredibly communicative and ensured that our rental was finished to the highest standard of cleanliness and repairs. We are now the proud tenants of the most wonderful home and are so grateful that we found Simon. 10/10 service, no notes!

Michaela Zamloot


Simon was very accomodating and helpful throughout the rental application process

Brett Felsenthal


Simon’s service was top notch. Professional, quick to respond and a great mediator between me and the landlord. Definitely a good experience overall. 🙌

Isauro López


Seriously knowledgeable, very reassuring and the friendliest chap you could hope to meet. Goes well beyond "just" an estate agent. More like a high end property consultant that can talk about investment decisions, interior design and everything in between. Highly recommended!

Dipta Malik


Simon is the most reliable trustworthy letting agent you can find! Paying attention to all details and doing fantastic job!I know him for 5 years, did few flats with him and all went smoothly. Try yourself and see.

Yael Epstein


We've been working with Simon for a number of years now and he has always been efficient and pragmatic on each letting, doing his best for both the landlord and tenant. He has also overseen works for us and is thorough in his inspections. Overall, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with.



Simon was extremely professional and a pleasure to work with in securing a flat in London. Would certainly recommend to all

Tommy Griffin


An absolute pleasure to interact with Simon. A true professional with a mastery of the London property market. Very knowledgeable on all his properties, with high quality virtual viewings tailored to the current climate. Highly recommended.

Alfie Ashton


Really smooth move in process, Probably the best I’ve experienced so far living in the city! It’s been really nice having Simon/fine living as our estate agent - you can really tell they look after the tenants which can be quite unheard of nowadays.



Very professional and offers excellent service. You will be well looked after. Impressed with the technology and quality of virtual viewings. Thank you Simon!

Arta Alfere


I would highly recommend Simon and Fine Living to anyone looking for a professional, attentive and transparent real estate agent to work with. Simon went above and beyond what I expected in order to successfully complete the sale and always did so with a helpful and respectful manner.

Alan Casey


5 stars at least! Moving abroad with a property in London and a busy life I wanted someone to deal with my property. Simon has been amazing as he is personally taking care of everything. He is quick, he explains what I do not know and he is very professional. He takes on the responsibility and take actions. 100% recommended

Erika Felici


Excellent service, would highly recommend.

Kirk Pereira


Simon is great to work with, super friendly and responsive. I would highly recommend house hunting with him!

Kelly Lenihan


Simon manages a rental flat for us and we very much enjoy working with him. His service is exceptional. He takes care of everything for us and we feel totally reassured that our property is in great hands. Any little issues our tenants might have, such as small repairs etc are dealt with right away in an efficient and professional manner. We recently had a change of tenants and Simon did a fantastic job of marketing the property and finding us excellent new tenants. He is proactive, communication is excellent and he is a lovely guy to work with too! Highly recommend.

Sarah Faulds


It's been a great experience renting a flat through Simon, he is always very kind and helpful

Tijana Markovic


I was really impressed by the service I received here, in particular from Jack. He was 'on it' from the start and took his time in understanding what kind of property we were after and our other requirements. He was knowledgeable, professional and gave us an all-round easy experience and personal service. To be honest, I'm still pinching myself that he managed to find us such a great place to rent. Would highly recommend.

India Semper-Hughes


We noticed a significant difference when our landlord change from our previous management company to Fine Living. We received information and response to our inquiries very quickly and when needed, we were able to communicate more effectively with the landlord. We felt that Simon cared not only about the landlord but also us, the tenants.

Alejandra Cordero


Positive experience working with Simon & team, from the start with the viewing, they were very responsive and timely in getting all the my questions answered and documents sent during the letting process. Would 100% recommend their services!

Joseph Chung


I recently purchased a flat through Fine Living and I couldn't be happier with the service I received. From the very beginning, the communication was outstanding. They kept me informed every step of the way, promptly answered all my questions, and were always available to address any concerns I had. The entire process was smooth and stress-free. Simon and Steve were professional, efficient, and made buying a flat a positive experience. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to buy or sell a property.



Simon is truly a special estate agent. He's knowledgable and cares about the relationship with customers going the extra miles to inform properly and not to rush in his viewing. He makes you feel extremely taken care of and guided alongside the process.

Davide Cavagnino


The whole process was a breeze, and everything happened in a blur. I moved from a foreign country and Fine Living was able to get everything done within a week, from answering my first message to handing over the keys. I absolutely recommend!

Merwane Drai


Excellent service from Fine Living the second time around. Always kept updated & the process was thorough & seamless. Would highly recommend!

Jennifer Nursiah


I recently had the pleasure of working with Simon, and I must say, he exceeded all expectations. Simon's professionalism was evident from the get-go, and his friendly demeanor made the leasing process an absolute breeze. What truly impressed me was his lightning-fast response time to all of my inquiries. No question was too small, and he always made me feel like a top priority. If you're in need of leasing assistance, look no further than Simon. He's the epitome of excellent customer service and professionalism.

Laura Giersdorf


Easy, quick and smooth experience overall.

Ana Maa


Simon is fully hands on and on top of everything. Has made my life so easy while being an overseas landlord.

Roxanne Cohen


see all Google reviews

🍪 Cookie consent

We value your privacy! Please take a moment to customise your cookie preferences. By clicking 'Submit,' you agree to the use of cookies as described below:

Collects data on user interactions to improve website performance.
Ad Personalisation
Customises ads based on user interests.
× How can we help you?