Regulated Searches vs. Council Searches

A Local Authority Search is a hugely important part of any conveyancing procedure. It includes vital information on charges or restrictions relating to the property in question. There are two ways of carrying these out; a Council Search is conducted by a Local Authority staff member, while Regulated Searches are carried out by the employee of an independent search provider.

Personal Searches became popular around 1998, after the high costs and inefficiencies of the Local Authority Land Charge Departments became too much to deal with. Solicitors and Conveyancers realised that a Personal Search could provide them with the information they needed faster – and for a far better price. By 2008, around 50% of all Local Searches carried out in the UK were Personal Searches, which have since been renamed as Regulated Searches.

But what are the main benefits of choosing to use a Regulated Search over a Council Search? Let’s take a look:

An Index Regulated Search is Easier to Read

At Index Property Information, we like to make things as simple as possible for our clients. That’s why our Regulated Searches are provided in the same format, regardless of which Council has provided the data. Our reports are user-friendly, and presented in a consistent format to save our clients time in understanding property history.

They’re Monitored by an Independent Body

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) was founded in 2003, and is a regulatory body which oversees the Search industry. They set up the Search Code, which sets minimum standards that search providers have to adhere to.  This process is administered by The Property Codes Compliance Board (PCCB), and means that any Search Code compliant Regulated Search provides exactly the same information as any Council Search. By comparison, there is no such regulatory body in place for Councils; each Local Authority is run separately, and offers different levels of efficiency.

Index Property Information are executive members of CoPSO, and we’re constantly striving to ensure that the searches we offer are more informative and accurate.

Regulated Searches Provide Better Protection

One of the biggest advantages with Regulated Searches is that they give the client far more protection than Council Search. The regulated searches at Index Property Information provide the following amounts of additional indemnity cover:

  1. A minimum £2m Professional indemnity Insurance for errors or omissions. At Index Property Information, we’re pleased to be able to offer up to £10m.
  2. An additional £2m Indemnity for errors and omissions relating to data provided by the actual Local Authority.

Indemnity cover is incredibly important, as it protects against any errors, which are unfortunately common. In the early 2000’s, Local Authorities decided records needed to be digitised, so Council Searches could be provided electronically. A good idea in theory, the task of translating paper records to digital format was overwhelming, and took years. The digital records, naturally, include various errors from misinterpretation of documents, transcribing handwritten information and taking data from old maps. At Index, we like to offer our clients an unparalleled level of protection – which is why we have the additional Indemnity in place.

They’re Provided at a Fixed Price

The cost of a Council Local Search can vary from £48.00 to £333.00 for exactly the same product, due to the independent administration of each Local Authority. This is frustrating, and leaves solicitors and conveyancers unsure of how much the search is going to cost for their client.

An Index Regulated Search is provided for the same fixed price, regardless of which Local Authority has provided the information. We’re also pleased to be able to offer them at a far more competitive price. This enables Solicitors to quote prospective clients immediately and be more competitive.

Regulated Searches are Completed Faster

Everyone knows that the conveyancing procedure is incredibly time sensitive, and hold-ups with searches and records can make-or-break the process. Council searches in many Local Authorities are slow, and can take anything up to three weeks. Regulated searches are much faster, and at Index we can provide a report usually within five working days.

They Have the Power to Boost Your Business

Research at Index Property Information has shown that clients using Regulated Searches are applying for over 30% more searches pro rata than those using Council Searches. This indicates to us that conveyancers and solicitors opting to use Regulated Local Searches are attracting more business. We think that’s a great reason in itself to make the switch, if you haven’t already!

Regulated Searches are Accepted by All Major Lenders

It’s also worth noting that all major Lenders now accept COPSO compliant Regulated Local Searches. Out of over 100 Lenders, there are now only a dozen lenders that are yet to conform.

The main difference between Index and other search providers is quality of service. We understand that any incorrect information provided by a Local Authority can still cause problems, even if it is indemnified against. We don’t pass on Council Searches without reading them first, nor do we simply copy Council data. It’s not appropriate for us to interpret and amend Council data but, when we do come across data errors, we inform the relevant department and ask them to amend their records accordingly.

This article was submitted to be published by Index Property Information as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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