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Anyone done their own property (conveyancing) searches?

(12 Posts)
Laquila Mon 08-Jun-15 21:22:30

We're first-time buyers and whilst I don't want to drive myself insane doing our solicitor's work for him, neither do I want to waste money when I could cut out the middleman and get most of the searches the solicitor's suggesting cheaper myself.

I'm specifically thinking of the Local Authority Search, the Water and Drainage (CON29DW) and the Groundsure Combined Homebuyers and Planning report. The latter seems to cover radon risk, so I'm not sure why the solicitor suggests a separate radon search.

Any advice on this gratefully received!

wowfudge Mon 08-Jun-15 22:39:59

What kind of savings are we talking about? What would you do if any of the searches turned up an issue? Would you even know whether something was an issue requiring follow up? Bit of a cheek to ask the solicitor to follow up for you I think. You pay them to work for you - make sure you are getting the information you need.

Depending where you are in the country, Cornwall perhaps?, a separate radon search could be prudent. Have you asked why this has been recommended?

It sounds a though you haven't got a fixed fee agreed with your solicitor. Is that the case?

Laquila Mon 08-Jun-15 22:58:22

Hi Wow, thanks for your reply. We have a fixed fee agreed, and the charges for the searches are on top of this. Some of them appear to be proved a little over cost, some are a bit more, but It seems from my research as though some are effectively duplicating the others. We're in Staffordshire - a Radon Risk Assessment, Development Risk Report and Coal Mining Search are amongst those listed by the solicitor as optional. (I get the impression that they're suggested for every property purchase with this firm.)

The overall saving would perhaps be about £60-£85, depending on how many searches we opt for. which seems like a drop in the ocean in the context of a house purchase but is quite a bit of money to me if I can fairly easily save it by doing the admin myself. I don't really see why it's cheeky to ask the solicitor to do the follow-up but I appreciate that others might!

specialsubject Tue 09-Jun-15 10:45:39

the search costs are fixed by each council and are always extra on the solicitor fee. But are you really sure you can get the searches cheaper?

TranmereRover Tue 09-Jun-15 10:48:31

god no - you're paying for the INSURANCE of having the solicitor on the hook for doing the correct searches, covering the correct areas including neighbouring areas for the correct time period and for interpreting them correctly
to save a paltry £60 and end up uninsured responsibility for eg chancel liability or massive subsidence because you're on top of a former mine shaft? nah...
Very few solicitors will ever do their own conveyancing (however straightforward) precisely because the value in it is the purchase of someone else's liability insurance.

BeauregardLafontaine Tue 09-Jun-15 10:55:38

They aren't very expensive in the grand scheme of things, compared to the house buying process as a whole. We've paid recently and our costs for searches were:
Local authority search fee£86.00
Water and drainage search£30.00
HM Land Charge search fee£4.00
Land Registry Search Fee£3.00
I doubt you will save any money at all, you will annoy your solicitor and you won't be covered by their insurance so probably best to just pay up.

Laquila Tue 09-Jun-15 20:14:40

Thanks everyone for your replies, much appreciated. (Just for info, I'd found all of them, except the Chancel Check and Radon Risk Report, online for cheaper than the solicitors were quoting, and in every case direct from the same sources, as far as I could tell.

I nipped in to see the solicitor today and he advised not to bother with the Radon one, the Chancel Check or the Development Risk Report. After considering everything, we're going for the Local Authority Search (compulsory), the Water and Drainage Search (the Con29DW) and the Homesure Groundcheck and Planning thing.

BigPawsBrown Tue 09-Jun-15 20:19:12

Tranmere rover is spot on. I'm a commercial property solicitor buying my house and I could do the conveyance in my sleep. I won't, though, because I want a different solicitor to review the searches and report on the risk of them to me.

We just charge what search flow (search provider) charge, we never add on any to our clients. It's a disbursement so legally you can't add anything on or give them it at a worse cost.

BigPawsBrown Tue 09-Jun-15 20:20:09

Just seen your latest post. always get a chancel check. That's the one of all that could save you millions confusedshock (despite law change in oct 2013)

wowfudge Tue 09-Jun-15 20:44:20

Well the reason the searches are on top of the fee is because they are disbursements - expenses rather than a service. Ime solicitors often quote disbursements higher than they actually work out in case the charges for them go up during the conveyancing process.

I disagree on the chancel repair liability - very much depends where you are. In a suburban setting with high density housing it's highly unlikely. I emailed the vicar of the parish when we were last buying and got it in writing that there was no liability in the parish.

Laquila Wed 10-Jun-15 15:36:25

Thanks eveyone - very interesting re solicitors not being technically allowed to charge more for disbursements.

mandy214 Wed 10-Jun-15 16:09:37

Also a lawyer. You are paying (as part of the legal costs) for the solicitor to interpret the results of the searches - to give you a heads up on what issues if any are identified and if they fail to do that properly (in advising you) you have some redress. You have the benefit of their knowledge / experience. And Bigpaws is right, disbursements have to be charged at cost so the solicitor should not be quoting for more than it is actually costing.

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