Official or Personal Conveyancing Search? Getting to Know the Difference


Let’s begin by explaining the difference between the two Conveyancing search options out there, a full official search and a personal search. The Local Authority Search is carried out by the Local Authority, whereby a Personal Search is carried out by a search provider, who visits the council office and records the information. In the case of an Official Search the Local Authority would be held accountable for any losses incurred by the search being completed incorrectly, whereas the independent search company would be held liable for any errors in a personal search.

It was not long ago that many lenders would not rely on the results from of a Personal Search as the information was thought to have been unreliable. However as long as the conveyancer is happy to accept the results then the majority of lenders will allow it to be carried out, showing a change in mindset.

As more lenders are now accepting the personal conveyancing search option and independent search providers have improved the accuracy of their searches it could be concluded that it comes down to personal choice and timing.

In the majority of purchase transactions other searches are obtained as standard such as a Drainage and Water Search and Environmental Search. These searches are provided by the search company not via the Local Authority. The Official Water Searches are completed directly through the Water Authority, the Regulated Water Searches are outsourced and carried out by search agents. With the Environmental Searches, search companies will outsource from several different providers such as Groundsure, Landmark and Future Climate Info.

Other searches may also be needed such as Chancel Search/Flood Risk/Coal Mining but a good conveyancer with knowledge of the area you are buying in will be able to advise on this at the outset.

Statistics For Local Areas

Here is a list of the average wait times given by the individual authorities for our office areas.

Hertsmere: around 14 working days.

Watford: around 7 working days.

Walsall: around 12 working days.

Stratford upon Avon: around 12 working days.

Birmingham: around 12 working days.

Sanjeev Kalair, Head of Conveyancing here at The Law Practice has this to say,

“Personal searches became popular because of the fact that Local Authorities were taking too long to respond. However, a lot of mortgage lenders did not approve of personal searches whereas nowadays most lenders will accept personal searches as long as we as Solicitors are satisfied and the search company is part of a Code or Board.

The difference in information is now very little so that Official and Personal searches provide identical information. This was not always the case. So, the question about whether an Official or Personal search is better is becoming more and more obsolete.”

In conclusion, the choice is personal preference, an official search can be returned with an error, much like a personal search can. It largely falls down to experience and the particular experience you have had. One person’s experience should not deter you from doing what you think is best. It should definitely be worth noting however.

Contact the Law Practice today and we will help you with all your conveyancing search needs and advise you on the best course of action. If you have a question regarding a legal matter you need to discuss please call the relevant office or alternatively drop us an email and we will be in touch. All initial consultation is free and you are under no obligation to instruct us at any stage.

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