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How Long Searches Take When Buying a House (2024)

In this post we will discuss how long property searches take when buying a house. Before we dive into that, let’s quickly cover off what searches are, who is responsible for conducting them, and what the searches are actually searching for.

What are property searches?

Property searches are investigations carried out when purchasing a property in the UK. Searches are conducted to gather crucial information about the property’s legal, regulatory, and environmental status. They help ensure that there are no hidden issues or potential complications that could impact the property’s value or the buyer’s plans for it.

Who is responsible for property searches?

In the UK, property searches are conducted by solicitors or licensed conveyancers who are hired (and paid for) by the buyer of the property. These legal professionals have the expertise and access to the necessary databases to perform the required searches and gather relevant information about the property.

Normally solicitors and conveyancers will either do the property searches directly themselves by requesting the information from the local authority, or they will hire a specialist search company to help. This is important for buyers to know because the speed by which you get results for your searches can depend on the route taken. Hiring the help of a search company costs more but is normally the fastest way to get results. Always check with your conveyancer which option they plan to go with.

What do property searches include?


Local authority searches

  • Scrutiny of planning-related matters
  • Assessment of building control matters
  • Examination of potential highways concerns
  • Evaluation of ongoing rail schemes
  • Analysis of pollution-related issues
  • Determination of listing status, conservation area inclusion, or tree preservation orders
  • These searches aim to unearth any ongoing or planned construction work nearby

Environmental searches

  • Appraisal of flood-related matters
  • Study of potential landslide risks
  • Assessment of subsidence possibilities
  • Evaluation of potential contamination of the land
  • Disclosure of nearby gas hazards or landfill sites

Water and drainage searches

  • Connection to public water supply and sewerage systems
  • Location of public sewer lines and drainage pipes
  • Necessity of water company approval for property extensions
  • Operational insights into drainage systems and responsible water company

Land Registry Searches

This search involves reviewing the current ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ records stored within the Land Registry. The purpose is to validate the present ownership status of the property being offered for sale.

How long do searches take?

The time to do most types of searches is relatively predictable. The wild card in the bunch is local authority searches.


Search Type How long it takes
Local authority 2 days – 8 months
Drainage and water Up to 10 days
Environmental Up to 10 days
Land registry Up to 10 days


Local authority searches have the potential to be a major bottle neck and to slow down your house buying process. The speed of local authority searches depends on where the house you plan to buy is located, and which local authority is responsible for doing the searches. Some local authorities are very fast while others are extremely slow.

How long do local authority search take (2023)

The below table outlines the speed at which each local authority will return searches, based on Aug 2023 data. Check the relevant local authority in the table below to learn how quick they are. If they are slow, you can reduce these search times by using a specialist search company.

If your property purchase has a slow council, or any property being bought within the chain is in a slow council catchment area, this could slow things down for the whole chain. If you or anyone in your chain needs to sell a house fast, Property Rescue can buy any property for cash in under 2 weeks, without doing any searches. Just get in touch for a no obligation quote.


Council Name Business days for searches
Bolton Metro Borough Council 184
East Staffordshire Borough Council 40
Tamworth Borough Council 40
Durham County Council (Unitary) 35
Newcastle upon Tyne City Council 35
South Ribble Borough Council 35
St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council 35
Torfaen County Borough Council 35
Westmorland and Furness Council (South Lakeland District Council) 35
Bridgend County Borough Council 30
Dorset Council (Weymouth & Portland Borough Council) 30
Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council 30
North Yorkshire Council (Craven District Council) 30
Pembrokeshire County Council 30
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council 30
Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames 30
South Staffordshire District Council 30
Stafford Borough Council 30
Tewkesbury Borough Council 30
Vale of Glamorgan Council 30
West Northamptonshire Council (Daventry District Council) 30
West Berkshire Council 29
London Borough of Redbridge 28
Blaenau Gwent County Council Borough Council 27
Corporation of the City of London 26
Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (Christchurch Borough Council) 25
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council 25
Central Bedfordshire Council (Unitary) 25
Cumberland Council (Carlisle City Council) 25
Dartford Borough Council 25
Epping Forest District Council 25
Forest of Dean District Council 25
Hertsmere Borough Council 25
Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council 25
Liverpool City Council 25
Middlesbrough Borough Council 25
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council 25
Rossendale Borough Council 25
Royal Borough of Greenwich 25
Sheffield City Council 25
Thurrock District Council 25
Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council 25
Watford Borough Council 25
Welwyn Hatfield Council 25
Broxbourne Borough Council 23
Cotswold District Council 23
Somerset Council (South Somerset District Council) 23
Flintshire County Council 22
Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council 21
Adur District Council 20
Amber Valley Borough Council 20
Cambridge City Council 20
Ceredigion County Council 20
Chesterfield Borough Council 20
Chichester District Council 20
Cumberland Council (Allerdale Borough Council) 20
Cumberland Council (Copeland Borough Council) 20
Dorset Council (North Dorset District Council) 20
Dorset Council (Purbeck District Council) 20
East Lindsey District Council 20
Erewash Borough Council 20
Gedling Borough Council 20
Gloucester City Council 20
Great Yarmouth Borough Council 20
High Peak Borough Council 20
Kingston upon Hull City Council 20
Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council 20
London Borough of Camden 20
London Borough of Islington 20
Maldon District Council 20
Newport City Council 20
North East Derbyshire District Council 20
North Lincolnshire Council 20
North Norfolk District Council 20
North Somerset Council 20
North Yorkshire Council (Harrogate Council) 20
North Yorkshire Council (Richmondshire District Council) 20
Northumberland County Council (Unitary) 20
Portsmouth City Council 20
Reading Borough Council 20
Rother District Council 20
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council 20
Rushcliffe Borough Council 20
South Cambridgeshire District Council 20
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council 20
St Albans City Council 20
Stoke on Trent City Council 20
Sunderland Metropolitan Borough Council 20
Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council 20
Test Valley Borough Council 20
Torridge District Council 20
West Lancashire Borough Council 20
West Oxfordshire District Council 20
Westmorland and Furness Council (Barrow in Furness Borough Council) 20
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council 20
Wiltshire Council (Unitary) 20
Worthing Borough Council 20
Wyre Forest District Council 20
Salford City Council 19
Harlow District Council 18
Hastings Borough Council 18
Newark & Sherwood District Council 18
East Hampshire District Council 17
Lincoln City Council 17
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council 16
Maidstone Borough Council 16
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead 16
Swale Borough Council 16
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council 16
Basildon District Council 15
Bassetlaw District Council 15
Blaby District Council 15
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 15
Breckland District Council 15
Broadland District Council 15
Broxtowe Borough Council 15
Burnley Borough Council 15
Canterbury City Council 15
Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council (Unitary) 15
Coventry City Council 15
Dacorum Borough Council 15
Darlington Borough Council 15
Derby City Council 15
Derbyshire Dales District Council 15
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council 15
East Riding of Yorkshire Council 15
Eastleigh Borough Council 15
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council 15
Folkestone & Hythe District Council 15
Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council 15
Hyndburn Borough Council 15
Isle of Wight Council 15
Lancaster City Council 15
Leicester City Council 15
London Borough of Brent 15
London Borough of Harrow 15
London Borough of Havering Council 15
London Borough of Merton 15
London Borough of Southwark 15
Mid Devon District Council 15
Monmouthshire County Council 15
North Northamptonshire Council (East Northamptonshire District Council) 15
North Tyneside Council 15
North Warwickshire Borough Council 15
North Yorkshire Council (Ryedale District Council) 15
Oadby & Wigston Borough Council 15
Oxford City Council 15
Pendle Borough Council 15
Redcar and Cleveland Council 15
Runnymede Borough Council 15
South Gloucestershire Council 15
South Norfolk District Council 15
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council 15
Telford and Wrekin Council 15
Torbay Borough Council 15
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council 15
Westmorland and Furness Council (Eden District Council) 15
Wrexham County Borough Council 15
Ashfield District Council 14
Cannock Chase District Council 14
Mansfield District Council 14
Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council 14
Tandridge District Council 14
Fenland District Council 13
Hart District Council 13
Mid Suffolk District Council 13
Chorley Borough Council 12
Harborough District Council 12
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council 12
Ribble Valley Borough Council 12
Shropshire Council (Unitary) 12
Stratford On Avon District Council 12
Thanet District Council 12
Wyre Borough Council 12
Buckinghamshire Council (Aylesbury Vale) 11
East Devon District Council 11
Huntingdonshire District Council 11
North East Lincolnshire Council 11
Ashford Borough Council 10
Babergh District Council 10
Bath and North East Somerset Council 10
Bedford Borough Council 10
Blackpool Borough Council 10
Bolsover District Council 10
Boston Borough Council 10
Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (Bournemouth Borough Council) 10
Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (Poole Borough Council) 10
Bristol City Council 10
Bromsgrove District Council 10
Buckinghamshire Council (Wycombe) 10
Caerphilly County Borough Council 10
Carmarthenshire County Council 10
Castle Point Borough Council 10
Charnwood Borough Council 10
Chelmsford City Council 10
Cheltenham Borough Council 10
Cherwell District Council 10
Cheshire East Borough Council (Unitary) 10
City of Wakefield Metropolitan District 10
Cornwall Council (Unitary) 10
Dorset Council (East Dorset District Council) 10
Dorset Council (West Dorset District Council) 10
Dover District Council 10
East Cambridgeshire District Council 10
East Hertfordshire District Council 10
Eastbourne Borough Council 10
Exeter City Council 10
Fylde Borough Council 10
Gosport Borough Council 10
Gravesham Borough Council 10
Halton Borough Council 10
Havant Borough Council 10
Herefordshire Council 10
Horsham District Council 10
Ipswich Borough Council 10
Isle of Anglesey County Council 10
Kirklees Metropolitan Council 10
Lewes District Council 10
Lichfield District Council 10
London Borough of Ealing 10
London Borough of Hackney 10
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham 10
London Borough of Hillingdon 10
London Borough of Hounslow 10
London Borough of Lewisham 10
London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames 10
London Borough of Waltham Forest 10
London Borough of Wandsworth 10
Luton Borough Council 10
Medway Council 10
Milton Keynes City Council 10
New Forest District Council 10
North Northamptonshire Council (Corby Borough Council) 10
North Northamptonshire Council (Kettering Borough Council) 10
North Northamptonshire Council (Wellingborough Borough Council) 10
North West Leicestershire District Council 10
North Yorkshire Council (Scarborough Borough Council) 10
North Yorkshire Council (Selby District Council) 10
Norwich City Council 10
Nottingham City Council 10
Peterborough City Council 10
Plymouth City Council 10
Powys County Council 10
Preston Borough Council 10
Redditch Borough Council 10
Rochford District Council 10
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea 10
Rugby Borough Council 10
Rushmoor Borough Council 10
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council 10
Sevenoaks District Council 10
Slough Council 10
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council 10
Somerset Council (Mendip District Council) 10
Somerset Council (Sedgemoor District Council) 10
South Derbyshire District Council 10
South Hams District Council 10
South Holland District Council 10
South Kesteven District Council 10
South Oxfordshire District Council 10
Stevenage Borough Council 10
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council 10
Stockton on Tees Council 10
Stroud District Council 10
Swansea City and Borough Council 10
Teignbridge District Council 10
Three Rivers District Council 10
Warrington Borough Council 10
Warwick District Council 10
Waverley Borough Council 10
Wealden District Council 10
West Lindsey District Council 10
West Northamptonshire Council (South Northamptonshire District Council) 10
Winchester City Council 10
Woking Borough Council 10
Wolverhampton City Council 10
Worcester City Council 10
Conwy County Borough Council 9
Crawley Borough Council 8
Denbighshire County Council 8
Hartlepool Council 8
Leeds City Council 8
London Borough of Tower Hamlets 8
Somerset Council (Somerset West and Taunton Council) 8
Vale of White Horse District Council 8
West Suffolk Council 8
Birmingham City Council 7
Bracknell Forest Borough Council 7
Bury Metro Borough Council 7
City of Doncaster Council 7
Colchester Borough Council 7
London Borough of Bexley 7
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council 7
Rutland County Council 7
Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council 7
Surrey Heath Borough Council 7
Swindon Borough Council 7
Uttlesford District Council 7
West Devon Borough Council 7
West Northamptonshire Council (Northampton Borough Council) 7
London Borough of Enfield 6
Mole Valley District Council 6
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council 6
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 6
Arun District Council 5
Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council 5
Bradford City Metro District Council 5
Braintree District Council 5
Brentwood Borough Council 5
East Suffolk Council 5
Elmbridge Borough Council 5
Fareham Borough Council 5
Guildford Borough Council 5
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 5
London Borough of Barnet 5
London Borough of Croydon 5
London Borough of Haringey 5
London Borough of Lambeth 5
London Borough of Newham 5
London Borough of Westminster 5
Melton Borough Council 5
North Hertfordshire District Council 5
North Yorkshire Council (Hambleton District Council) 5
South Buckinghamshire District Council 5
Southampton City Council 5
Spelthorne Borough Council 5
Tendring District Council 5
Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council 5
Wokingham District Council 5
Wychavon District Council 5
Brighton & Hove City Council 4
Cardiff Council 4
London Borough of Bromley 4
Manchester City Council 4
Mid Sussex District Council 4
City of York Council 3
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council 3
London Borough of Sutton 3
North Devon District Council 3
North Kesteven District Council 3
Malvern Hills District Council 2
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council 2

The data in the above table comes from here.

It’s clear that Bolton council is extremely slow at doing searches. Excluding Bolton, the average of all other councils listed is just over 14 business days which isn’t bad.

Are searches mandatory?

Yes and no. Searches are not a legal requirement, but they are required by mortgage lenders. Since most people buy homes with money borrowed from the bank, searches will be required. However, cash house buyers do not need to do searches since they are not borrowing anything.

If you live in Bolton, or anywhere else in the UK with a slow local authority, and you are looking to sell a house quickly, you can skip local authority searches entirely by selling directly to us.  We can buy any property for cash in under 2 weeks, without doing any searches. Just get in touch for a no obligation quote. Or, if you just want to know what your house is worth today, here is an instant, free property valuation tool that will tell you exactly that.

Receive a free, no-obligation cash offer by completing our 30 second form

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