Advisory Note: Buyers relying on searches commissioned by sellers

The CLC has been asked whether a conveyancer acting for a buyer can accept a local search bought by the seller.

At the moment, when the market is busy and the delivery of local searches can be delayed, accepting a seller’s searches could help to keep transactions moving.

The CLC’s view

Given the potential benefits to the buyer, conveyancers should consider whether they can accept a local search bought by the seller, but they will need to satisfy themselves on the following points.

  1. Type and age of search

The buyer’s conveyancer will need to consider the type of local search provided by the seller and that it is within the timescale required by their lender.

  • Searches obtained from the Local Authority

If the search is produced by the Local Authority then the protections for the buyer and their lender will be the same as if they had ordered the search themselves as they will be relying on the same data which is public data and carries an indemnity if it is incorrect.

  • Searches produced by a personal search provider

If the search is produced by a personal search provider then the buyer’s conveyancer will need to check:

  1. That the lender accepts personal searches,

and

  • That the search provider confirms that the local search:
  • provides protection for the buyer, conveyancer and mortgage lender relying on it,
  • accurately reports the most up-to-date available information and risks associated with the property from the sources consulted,
  • provides complete search results based on a search of all legitimate, commercially and readily available sources (i.e. a physical examination of public records; a response from an official entitled to provide the information; our own current records; or commercially available data),
  • makes clear to customers in advance: what sources of information are commercially and readily available; what additional sources of information may be obtained, identifying any additional cost or time delay involved; where required information is unobtainable,
  • states clearly in the search report what sources of information have been searched, and
  • ensures that all data and information is handled with integrity, in accordance with data protection legislation and protecting copyright and intellectual property rights.

If the Local Search satisfies all these requirements, then it may not be in the buyer’s best interest to order a search which should provide exactly the same data and could cause delay. 

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