What Are Searches in the Conveyancing Process in Scotland?

The cost of selling a property in Scotland includes not only fees payable to the solicitor and estate agent but also monies payable, on the seller’s behalf, to other companies or governmental bodies. ‘Searches’ are a significant part of these conveyancing ‘Outlays’ yet many clients don’t know what they are paying for or when. This article will explain!    

Searches (sometimes referred to as a ‘Multisearch’) consist of a Legal Report and Property Enquiry Certificate. When we are acting for a property seller, we are required to provide these searches to the buyer’s solicitor as part of the sale contract.

We usually instruct a ‘Multisearch’ at the start of a sale and receive a free update from the searching company later in the transaction.

The Legal Report includes searches in:

  • the Land Register of Scotland to check who currently owns the property,
  • the Inhibitions Register to enable us to confirm whether any court ‘inhibitions’ are registered against the property which would prevent the property from being sold, and
  • an Insolvency search.

Separately a Company search may be required (if the seller is a Company rather than an individual).

The ‘Property Enquiry Certificate’ contains information provided from Local Authority records. This would include the following information.

  • Whether a property is situated in a Conservation Area or if it is a Listed Building
  • Information on whether the property is connected to public or private water and drainage
  • Details of any Statutory Notices affecting the property
  • Details of any Planning/Building Control documentation
  • Confirmation of whether the roads and footpaths adjoining the property are public or private

Depending on the area where the property is situated, other searches such as Coal Reports may also be required by the buyer’s solicitor.

Different solicitor firms charge different amounts for Searches. Why? In short, Searches are provided by companies who specialise in providing this information and several of these companies exist, so they have to compete with each other for the business. The higher the volume of searches that a conveyancing firm instructs from one searching company, the better the price they are likely to be able to negotiate with them.   

Most solicitor firms ask their clients to pay for the Searches (and any other anticipated Outlays) at the start of the conveyancing transaction. Different firms operate differently but, at MOV8, we try to order the Searches as soon as possible in the sale conveyancing transaction. Searches can reveal issues that might delay, or even prevent, a sale completing within the originally-agreed timescales. By ordering the Searches as early as possible, there is more time to deal with any issues that arise from the Searches and this can prevent delays to conveyancing transactions. However, this also means that we are billed by the searching company long before the sale is due to complete. By asking for a relatively small payment ‘to account’ at the start of the sale conveyancing transaction, we reduce the amount of debt that our clients, collectively, owe us throughout their conveyancing transactions.  

Details of any Searches and other Outlays that we anticipate during a case are detailed in our Welcome Letter and Terms of Business and any quotes that are provided to our clients in advance of their conveyancing starting.


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