How Long After Searches To Exchange

Brick Building near Green Trees

Planning to make a property purchase or perhaps sell one you own? If you are, understanding how long it takes between the conveyancing searches performed on your property and the contracts you exchange is essential. While the process of property purchases and sales can be exciting, the reality is that there is quite a bit of paperwork to be completed, and understanding the steps involved throughout conveyancing can help you better know what to expect in terms of timeline. Whether this is the first time you’ve purchased a property or you’ve been doing this as an investment method for years, this guide will help you learn more about what’s involved, how long those property searches may take for your new purchase, and how long it will be until you begin to finalise things with the exchange of contracts. Let’s get started.

A Closer Look At Conveyancing

Before we consider the timeline between conveyancing searches and the exchange of contracts, it may help to get a quick overview of the conveyancing process. That alone could help you answer questions like “How long do house searches take” and “How long after the mortgage offer to completion”. When you’re buying a house, searches are only one part of the conveyancing picture.

The first step of the process is selecting a conveyancer. You’re going to want one who has a speciality in property law. In most cases, you’ll also want one who has plenty of experience to help guide you through the process and protect your interests.

Once that’s complete, the process moves on, and you’ll instruct your conveyancer to manage all of the legalities that are involved with your transaction. Initially, they’ll verify your identity, as everyone involved in a property transaction must have their identity verified as a result of anti-money laundering legislation. They’ll also ask for several different documents and begin the process of conducting the searches associated with the purchase of a home. What searches are done when buying a house? Conveyancing searches usually include things like Land Registry searches and planning permissions searches. Searches when buying a house also often include environmental surveys. All of these searches are key steps to buying a house in the UK because they help a buyer see any potential issues with the property or find any restrictions that could shift the value of the property or its future saleability.

After the searches are completed, the buyer’s conveyancer typically raises any enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer and gets any answers he or she needs about clarifications or additional information. What happens after enquiries are answered? Surveys can be ordered like homebuyer’s surveys or specialised property surveys just so you can get a better sense of the property’s condition. How long do searches on a property take like these? We’ll cover the timeline in just a bit.

As all of these things are taking place, typically the financing for a property is put into place. If you’re buying a house and you need a mortgage to do so, the mortgage application is processed. The lender takes a closer look at the property reports and the buyer’s financial situation and then makes a mortgage offer. How long after the mortgage offer to complete the process? Usually about two to three weeks.

Once the required searches and surveys are complete, the exchange of contracts is the next step. When the two parties exchange contract agreements, they set a date for completion. Everyone in the process is legally bound to the transaction. At this point, the buyer usually pays the seller a deposit, too. If anyone decides to withdraw from the transaction, legal recourse is possible.

The final step is completion day. The buyer’s money is sent to the seller, and the buyer gets the keys and legal ownership of the property. The buyer’s conveyancer registers his or her ownership with the Land Registry, and arrangements for additional payments like Stamp Duty, are made.

So, How Long Do Searches Take?

Wondering about the answer to “How long do searches take when buying a house?” The time it takes for conveyancing searches in the UK real estate market depends on several factors, including the location of the property and the efficiency of the local authorities involved. On average, the conveyancing search process can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, but that’s just an estimate.

Here is a breakdown of some common types of searches and their estimated timeframes:

  1. Local Authority Search: This search checks various local authority records for information such as planning permissions, building regulations, environmental issues, and potential road developments. Between one and three weeks is common to obtain the results.
  2. Water and Drainage Search: These house-buying searches ensure that the property is connected to the main water supply and drainage systems. Often, you’ll see a turnaround period of one to two weeks.
  3. Environmental Search: This search examines the property for potential environmental risks, such as contamination or flood risks. It generally takes 1 to 2 weeks.
  4. Chancel Repair Liability Search: This search determines whether chancel repair liability exists, which is a potential obligation to contribute to church repairs. It usually takes 1 to 2 weeks.
  5. Mining and Geological Search: In some areas with mining history, this search checks for any mining-related risks. The timeframe is usually around 1 to 2 weeks.

It’s important to note that the above timeframes are just an approximation, and they depend on the workload of the local authorities and other factors. Delays can occur if there are complex issues discovered during the searches, or if there is a backlog of cases. Additionally, the responsiveness of all parties involved in the conveyancing process, such as solicitors, sellers, and lenders, can impact the overall timeline.

What Causes Delays In Searches?

Several things cause conveyancing search delays in the UK real estate market. UK real estate market. One is the workload and any potential backlogs of either the search providers or the local authorities. Local authorities and search providers may experience high volumes of search requests, leading to delays in processing and delivering search results. Administrative delays are another cause. Mistakes in paperwork, miscommunication, or administrative errors can lead to delays in obtaining and processing search results. The location of your property could also be the cause of the delay. Your property’s location can affect the time it takes to conduct certain searches. Properties in areas with complex land history, mining history, or environmental concerns may require more extensive searches, leading to longer wait times. Another reason for the delay may be out of almost everyone’s control. In some cases, search results may rely on information from third parties, such as utility companies or environmental agencies. Delays can occur if these third parties take time to respond to search queries. Sometimes, too, the search results may uncover unexpected issues, such as planning disputes or title complications. Dealing with these issues can cause delays in the conveyancing process. Additionally, if the solicitor handling the conveyancing has a heavy workload or is managing multiple cases simultaneously, it could slow down the process. Chain transactions, too, may create problems. In a chain transaction where multiple properties are being bought and sold in sequence, delays in any one transaction can cause a domino effect, affecting all the linked transactions. Additionally, the time of year can also impact search delays. For example, during peak seasons or holidays, there may be reduced staff availability, leading to slower processing times. For example, local authority search delays in 2022 were caused by the peak real estate boom that was happening around the UK. Thus, the answer to the question of “How long after searches to exchange in 2022” was quite a bit longer than normal processing times.

To mitigate potential delays, all parties involved (solicitors, buyers, sellers, lenders, and search providers) must communicate effectively and promptly to respond to any requests for information or documentation. Additionally, using experienced and efficient conveyancing professionals can help to prevent significant delays.

Why Do Searches Even Need To Happen?

There are many different reasons these searches are crucial, but for the most part, it comes down to this: these searches are an essential part of the property buying process and provide crucial information to buyers, ensuring a smooth and informed transaction. While you may be throwing up your hands in frustration and saying, “How long do searches take when buying a house?!?” the reality is that these searches are essential, and you want them performed.

Wondering why? One reason is that these searches serve as a proactive measure to protect buyers from unforeseen problems that could arise after the purchase. Conveyancing searches involve thorough investigations conducted by solicitors or licensed conveyancers to uncover any potential legal, financial, or environmental issues related to the property. A home is a huge investment! While you may be frustrated and ask “How long do property searches take?” without them, you could have real legal issues down the road.

Another reason is that they help you understand what might change about the property with time. While you’re pacing and asking yourself, “How long do searches on a property take,” your solicitor is uncovering vital information from the local council regarding planning permissions, building regulations, conservation areas, and any other restrictions or potential developments in the area. These searches help buyers understand if any impending changes may impact the desirability or value of the property, which is likely something you want to know.

Moreover, some of them are designed to identify potential risks to the property, such as contaminated land or the proximity to flood zones. These kinds of searches ensure that buyers are aware of any potential environmental hazards and can make an informed decision regarding the purchase. Searches may also take a look at the property’s connection to the mains water supply and sewerage system, providing information on issues such as drainage responsibilities, water quality, and any planned sewer works or they could provide information on the risk of subsidence. So, while you may be moaning, “How long do searches on a property take? This seems like forever” the reality is that you want these searches to be performed before you buy a property because they help to protect your investment in ways you may not realise. That can help to ensure your home remains in liveable condition and that your property value increases over time.

What If The Searches Uncover A Problem?

Uncovering a problem through property searches can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that it’s not the end of the road. If you’re asking yourself “How long from searches to completion in the UK?” what you may not realise is that the timeline can get extended if the searches find a problem with the home you’re trying to buy or sell.

When a problem arises from property searches, the first step is to consult with your solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. They will be able to provide professional guidance and advice on the best course of action. They may recommend seeking additional information, such as further surveys or reports, to fully understand the extent of the problem. Sure, it may extend the answer to the question of “How long after searches to completion,” but more information is always better in these cases.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, together with your solicitor, you will carefully review the terms of the contract and assess if any specific clauses or warranties have been breached due to the problem uncovered. You’ll want to talk to your solicitor to learn more about the legal implications and your rights as a buyer and a seller. They can help you negotiate with the other party to find a resolution that is fair and protects your interests.

Your solicitor may recommend expert opinions or surveys to assess the severity and potential impact on the property depending on the nature of what the surveys uncovered. For example, if structural issues are discovered, it’s a good idea to talk to a qualified structural engineer who can provide an accurate assessment of the problem and potential remedies.

Once those are complete and you have all the necessary information and expert opinions, consider your options. Depending on the severity of the problem, you can negotiate with the other party to address the issue. The buyer might request a reduction in the purchase price, or ask for repairs to be carried out before completing the purchase. If the problem is significant and the seller simply can’t address it, both parties may need to consider whether proceeding with the purchase is the best decision.

Keep in mind, though, that there are at least a few options. For example, in some cases, it may be possible to obtain insurance or indemnity policies to protect against certain issues uncovered in property searches. For example, if a chancel repair liability is detected, you can explore obtaining an insurance policy to cover potential costs.

The Bottom Line: How Long After Searches To Completion?

This guide started with a simple question – how long do house searches take – and the reality is that there is no simple answer to that question. For example, the answer to “How long do searches take when buying a house in 2022?” is quite different than it is today thanks to the shift in the market. The answer to the question of the period between house searches and completion also depends on the answer to other questions like “How long from raising enquiries to completion” and “What happens after enquiries are answered?” Unfortunately, most of these answers rely entirely on the details of the sale, the people involved, and the property itself. While it may be impossible to know when you finally reach the exchange of contract in your home sale, the reality is that if you work closely with your solicitor and your estate agent, you will be able to close the sale soon!

We are proud members of...

  • NAPB
  • RICS
  • The Property Ombudsman
  • Trading Standards

We are proud to be the most regulated property buyer operating in the ‘Quick House Sale’ industry. We are an active member of the NAPB (National Association Of Property Buyers) and are RICS regulated, which means you can have every confidence of selling your home with us quickly & easily.