What Does a Local Search Reveal to Home Buyers?

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One of the most important parts of the conveyancing process is the local authority search. If you’re buying a property using a mortgage, your mortgage lender will likely require you to carry out a local search. Even if you

But what is a local search, and how does it potentially influence your house purchase?

Here’s our look at what a local authority search is, how it works, what it involves, and how it affects first time buyers and those moving up the property ladder.

What Is a Local Authority Search For?

Mortgage lenders want to know the property they’re helping you buy isn’t going to depreciate in value. Once you make an offer on a new home and the seller accepts it, you can request that your conveyancing solicitor carries out the local search.

That search will be officially carried out by the local authority. Occasionally this will run more centrally via HM Land registry, but this is no longer common. The search will reveal if there are any issues with the property you’re interested in.

What Does a Local Authority Search Include?

Local authority searches can be broken down into two parts. Those parts are referred to by the names of the forms that need to be filled out: LLC1 and CON29. The goal of these forms is to ensure you have complete transparency about the property you want to buy long before any contracts are exchanged.

Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

One of the more important parts of buying a property is clarifying whether there are any prohibitions or restrictions on how a new owner uses it. An LLC1 search will include details about:

  • Planning agreements that are in place and any conditional planning permissions.
  • If the property is located within a conservation area or a tree preservation order area.
  • Whether the property is registered as a listed building.
  • Any renovation or improvements grants required.
  • Whether there are currently any financial charges against the property.
  • If the property is within a smoke control zone.

Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

This is the form your solicitor will fill out and send to the local authority. It’s intended to find out any information held by the local authority that may affect the use of or any future developments to that property. Such information generally includes:

  • Any proposals for rail, road, or traffic schemes within the vicinity of the property.
  • Any planning decisions that may affect the property itself and the surrounding area.
  • Any environmental factors (this could include information such as whether the property is on contaminated or brownfield land).

The CON29 search will also provide you, your mortgage lender, and your solicitor with any additional information that might cause concern. That could include records of any issues with subsidence or difficulties with accessing local energy supplies or utility infrastructure.

What a Basic Local Authority Search Doesn’t Include

The two main types of local searches don’t always include everything you need to know about. Your mortgage lender might request additional searches not covered by a standard local authority search. As a result, they may incur some added disbursement fees, but your solicitor should highlight these.

Some of the additional searches you may require include:

  • An environmental search: This will determine whether the property is at risk from flooding. It will also confirm proximity to both potentially contaminated land and waste sites.

What Do Local Authority Searches Cost?

This will vary depending on your solicitor. We have included a full breakdown of the costs associated with conveyancing in our handy free downloadable guide.

How Long Does a Local Authority Search Take?

This is one of those areas of conveyancing where it’s all dependent on the efficiency of the local authority. Some local authorities process local searches quickly and can return the necessary documents within just five days to two weeks. Others can take a lot longer, with reports in 2021 of Dorset Council taking 65 days to conduct a local authority search (although they have improved that now).

It’s always a good idea to talk to your conveyancing solicitor about how long they expect local searches to take. If you’re using a local conveyancing team, they will have a much clearer idea of the average times the local authority takes to process these searches.

Do I Need a Property Search If I Don’t Have a Mortgage?

If you’re not using a mortgage to buy a new home, there is no obligation to carry out a local authority search. However, that’s not recommended. Mortgage lenders want those searches because they don’t want to lend money for a property that will lose value. If you don’t have a mortgage, you still want to ensure the home you buy isn’t going to lose any value over the years.

Your property search highlights issues that may lead to devaluation, but it can also be used to spot opportunities for negotiating a property price if costly problems are highlighted. You may even get information on a property search that will convince you not to buy.

Property Searches and Conveyancing

The whole conveyancing process is sometimes very daunting to property buyers, especially those buying a property for the first time. But it doesn’t have to be. At Lockings, we have worked hard to ensure you don’t get bogged down in legalese and complicated legal terms.

If you’re interested in buying a new home, or you’re not sure if you need a solicitor, you can get in touch and request a free callback from a member of our friendly office team. Let us know what you need and we’ll connect you with one of our specialists. Then, we can work together to ensure you have a pain-free property buying experience.

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