Conveyancing search packs

Buying Conveyancing Searches from a Previous Buyer – Pros and Cons

What this article covers

  • Legality of buying searches pack from previous buyer
  • How much you save from buying searches from previous buyer
  • How to approach the estate agent and solicitor

You are here because the previous buyer has offered to sell you their conveyancing searches at a discounted price. Whether it’s a good or risky decision to purchase them will depend on a number of factors, such as the duration that has passed since the previous sale fell through.

Standard conveyancing searches in the UK

The standard searches carried out in the UK conveyancing process include the local authority search, land registry search, water and drainage search, and environmental search. On average, it can take anywhere from two to eight weeks for this process to be complete. It can be tempting for this reason to purchase the searches from the previous buyer as it could save you a lot of time.

Risks of buying searches from the previous buyer

Hold your horses. There are a couple of potential risks to consider before you decide to purchase the searches from the previous buyer. The first and biggest risk is having outdated information. Conveyancing searches like local authority searches are usually valid for up to six months.

This, however, doesn’t mean it’s safe to assume the information will remain valid up until the six months point. Certain types of searches may change and contain invalid information a day after they are done. The less time that has passed since the previous sale fell through, the less risk there is in purchasing previous searches. Without proper searches, you may end up purchasing a property that has a debt attached to it or a property that sees an immediate reduction in price due to an impending development (e.g. train line, housing estate, industrial development).

The second risk is the potential lack of financial and legal protection. You may have no indemnity if any of the information from the previous searches turns out to be incorrect. Some mortgage lenders may not allow you to use previous searches due to these reasons. You should check with the lender first if you need a mortgage to buy the property.

How much you save from buying previous searches

Reducing expenditure should not be your biggest motivator. In most cases, the amount you save from buying searches from the previous buyer will only be a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall property transaction. Local authority searches, for example, are never more than a few hundred pounds. Your primary motivation of buying the previous searches would be to save time, not to save money.

Should you buy previous searches?

It depends. You should lean on your solicitor’s advice on whether it is appropriate to purchase the previous searches based on your current circumstances. For example, a homebuyer buying a property that only requires basic searches may find little risk in buying the previous searches if less than a month has passed since the previous sale fell through. Another homebuyer might find it a safer bet to have their solicitor conduct new searches if the property they are purchasing is situated on land with environmental risks, such as regular flooding.

Published on | Last updated on 09/30/2023

Share your thoughts