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How long after searches to exchange?

06/07/2023
(Last Updated: 12/02/2024)
591
5 min read
Once property searches are back, the average time to exchange from that point is 3 weeks. The challenge with this time-frame is that solicitors work in different ways, which means you could face a longer gap between when searches come back and when you are ready to exchange contracts.

You can speed up your contract exchange by following some of the tips and guidance below, including "how often should I chase my solicitor?", "what work is completed after searches come in?" and "what happens after searches are complete when buying a house?". Read more - What can hold up exchange of contracts?

What will cause delays between searches and exchange?


  • If your solicitor doesn't raise enquiries until they are in receipt of all of the searches and your mortgage offer;
  • If your solicitor doesn't order your property searches until you get a mortgage offer; or
  • If you chase your solicitor too often. Even very good solicitors need to take time to review the searches and raise further enquiries.

Local Authority Search Turnaround Times


What conveyancing searches do you need in order to exchange?

Not all conveyancing searches are mandatory, however you are advised to get them to be informed about the property you are buying. The mandatory ones are set by your mortgage lender, so if you aren't getting a mortgage then you can take the risk and exchange without searches.

Search
Mandatory or Not Mandatory
How long?
Local Authority Search
This is a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. You can see the lender requirements by checking the Lenders' Handbook - Part 2 - Sections 5.4 Searches and Reports and 5.5 Planning and Building Regulations. Read more - What is a local authority search?
Council times range from 2 to 60 working days.
Water & Drainage Search
This is a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. Read more - What is a Water and Drainage Search?
Times range from 5 to 20 working days.
Environmental Search
This could be a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. You can see the lender requirements by checking the Lenders' Handbook - Part 2 - Section 5.4.4 Does the lender want to receive environmental or contaminated land reports? Read more - What is an Environmental Search?
1 working day but normally less than 1 hour.
ChancelSearch Check
This is not a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. Read more - What is a Chancel Search?
1 working day but normally less than 1 hour.
Climate Search
This is not a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. Read more - What is a Climate Report?
1 working day but normally less than 1 hour.
Coal Mining Search
This is a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage. Read more - What is a Coal Mining Search?
1 working day but normally less than 1 hour.

You can check your specific lender's requirement here - UK Finance Mortgage Lenders' Handbook for Conveyancers. Scroll to the bottom and choose your lender, England & Wales and search Parts 1 and 2.


What work is completed after searches come in?

Once the conveyancing searches arrive back from the search provider, your solicitor will review:

  • Planning and Building Regulation entries.
  • If the property will be subject to any enforceable restrictions, for example under an agreement (such as an agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) or in a planning permission, which, at the time of completion, might reasonably be expected materially to affect its value or its future marketability.
  • Review contaminated land entries.
  • Review where your water and drainage comes into the property.
  • (if leasehold) The Leasehold Management Pack often delays the exchange of contract because the turnaround time for this information is 3 to 7 weeks and it is the seller who obtains this information, not the buyer.

How long do searches take when buying a house?

The timescales for a house or a flat are the same as they are set by the council and water companies. The local authority search takes the longest to come back.

How can I speed up my contract exchange?

You can speed up your contract exchange by:

  • Ordering searches on instruction, or once the full draft contract pack is received by the seller.
  • Obtaining a mortgage offer as soon as possible.
  • Work with a solicitor with good reviews and who offers good communication.


Order Your Searches
Commons Registration

Commons Registration Search

Drainage and Water

Drainage and Water Search

Highway Search

Conveyancing Searches Example: HighwaySearch

Planning Report

Planning Report

Local Authority

Regulated Local Authority Search

Energy & Infrastructure

Energy and Infrastructure Search

Climate Risk Report

Conveyancing Searches Example: Climate Report

Environmental Appraisal

Conveyancing Searches Example: Environmental Appraisal

Environmental Report

Environmental Search

Flood Appraisal

Conveyancing Searches Example: Flood Appraisal

Flood Risk

Flood Risk Report

Coal Mining

Coal Mining Search

Subsidence

Subsidence Report

Chancel

Chancel Search

Radon

Radon Search

Chancel Search

Chancel Search

Drainage&Water

Drainage and Water Search

Climate Risk Report

Conveyancing Searches Example: Climate Report

Environmental Report

Environmental Search

Regulated Local Authority

Regulated Local Authority Search

£295 INC VAT

 
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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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