Councils Struggle To Meet Residential Land Search Deadlines
Around 15% of councils are struggling to meet property search expectations. In some lucky cases, a search can take as little as a day; however, there have been cases of a 95 day wait for a completed search.
Researchers from Move IQ analysed the figures from the 326 English local authorities and found a huge disparity in the compulsory cost and time attached to searches. Unbelievably, there is a 658% difference between the most expensive charge of £333 and the cheapest at £44.
78% of councils charge over £100 per standard residential land search with 25% charging over £150 for charges that can take a matter of minutes to complete.
Whilst local authorities are supposed to complete searches in ten days or less, 15% are failing to achieve this deadline. Only 12% of councils are able to complete this task in under three days. Stratford-Upon-Avon took the longest time to complete searches at a staggering 93-day average, whilst councils are able to turn their searches around in a day at a cost of only £44.
Phil Spencer, Property Expert and Co-founder of Move IO, said: “The Prime Minister has pledged to fix what she herself describes as Britain’s broken housing market, yet our research reveals that councils across the country are adding needless delays and expense to the home buying process.
“Conducting a standard search can take minutes, but just eight councils were able to turn around a search request in a day and a disgracefully high proportion of councils are failing to meet the Government’s 10-day target.
“Whatever the individual councils’ reasons for the delays, such as a lack of resources or lack of staff, it’s clearly unacceptable to force buyers to wait up to three months for what should be a routine process. Then the arbitrary fees charged by different councils have created a postcode lottery where a search in one area can cost seven times more than it would in another.
“At times the process of buying a home can seem stacked in favour of sellers rather than buyers. In the current market, buyers need all the help they can get, and councils should be made to end this unjustifiable red tape minefield with a cap on fees.”
How significant are residential land searches in the home completion process? Are these delays a huge factor in the overall completion time? What should be done to improve this process?