Regulated Personal Searches – what’s driving their increased uptake and what does this mean for the industry?

There’s no denying that over recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of conveyancing firms ordering Regulated Personal Searches opposed to the more traditional, Council searches. This summer we conducted a survey among our many subscribers to explore just how many conveyancing firms were now routinely favouring searches from personal search providers rather than those directly supplied by Local Authorities – and why.

The results were clear. A notable majority of the top independent solicitor and Licensed Conveyancer firms are indeed now opting to use Regulated Personal Searches — not least, because of the speed at which these reports can be produced, coupled with the added reassurances they offer, both in terms of quality and insurances. The Search Code’s demanding insurance requirements, along with the redress mechanism for consumers provided by The Property Ombudsman, offer peace of mind for all those relying on the information provided in the search report — which is great news not only for conveyancing firms, but for lenders as well as consumers too.

What’s more, with the Search Code becoming an increasingly well recognised and established mark of quality across the industry, we expect this to continue to grow – extending to more traditional high street conveyancing firms.

So why should you look for the Search Code stamp of quality?

The Search Code offers reassurance to all those that rely on the information provided in property search reports that the searches they commission will be conducted in a professional and timely manner by a fully regulated and trusted provider. The Code offers protection by helping to reduce the circulation of fraudulent search reports and by ensuring that the necessary insurances are in place, should an issue arise at a later date. Further, the Code requires not only that subscribers maintain £2m of Professional Indemnity insurance for every search carried out, but that they also put in place specific Search insurance, which covers any errors or omissions in the Local Authority’s data.

So what’s next?

The Search Code is an ever evolving stamp of quality and it is both our role at CoPSO and that of the Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB), who are responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Code, to ensure that it is fit for purpose and that the stringent measures it sets out are being met by each and every one of our subscribers. In conjunction with the PCCB and its team of inspectors, we are continually looking at ways we enhance and extend the Search Code, for the benefit of both subscriber firms and those who rely on the information provided in property search reports. As such, we are currently developing plans to include additional Compliance Notes in relation to flood reports and we will be continuing to work closely with the industry to ensure the Search Code continues to act as a stamp of quality for the personal search industry.

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