How long do solicitor’s searches take in the conveyancing process?

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What do the searches consist of?

This is a question that we are often asked and unfortunately, as conveyancing is not a precise science, is very difficult to give a precise answer to. In common understanding, searches consist of two elements, the official searches and other enquiries. We will look at both in turn:

What are the Official Searches in the process?

The official search part of the process (which usually involves the local authority search, environmental search and drainage search, but may include others such as mining searches) take various lengths of time depending on the local authority and water authority. The environmental search usually takes between 24 and 48 hours.

The slowest local authority at the time of writing is Camden in Greater London, taking on average 50 working days. It is not however uncommon for searches (especially personal searches) to take 24 hours to process.

Our experience of drainage searches is that they usually take around a week to a fortnight to process depending on the water company.

What are the Other Enquiries in the process?

Depending on the type of property, most notable whether it is freehold or leasehold, often determines how long the additional enquiries take to be answered. If the property is freehold it is often the case that enquiries can be dealt with very quickly, often within the timescales of the official searches. 

Leasehold properties however usually require information to be provided by a landlord or management company. A standard form (known as an LPE1) needs to be completed by the landlord or managing agent. Obviously different timescales will apply depending on the individual or company involved and how quickly (and accurately) they are dealt with. It is not usual for further enquiries to be required once the LPE1 is received. Once again, these can take time to answer. A proficient landlord or managing agents would usually deal with enquiries within a week to a fortnight.

How long does it generally take to finish the Official Searches and Other Enquiries?

As a general rule of thumb, a timescale of between two and eight weeks is typical for searches and enquiries to be dealt with, but each transaction is different and it can take longer or be quicker. The other variable which needs to be taken into account in the transaction is the issue of a mortgage offer which once again depends upon a third party, namely the mortgage provider.

For further information about conveyancing or to obtain a no obligation quotation from one of the country’s leading property firms, why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert property lawyers and see what we can do for you?

This blog was prepared by one of Alexander JLO’s property partners, Matt Johnson on the 22nd May 2020 and is correct at the time of going to press. Matt is an expert in the field of conveyancing, with a specialism in new build and shared ownership work.

Matt’s profile on the independent Review Solicitor website can be viewed here.

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