Estate agents in Wiltshire say chains are breaking and sales collapsing because of the length of time it takes the county council to complete searches.
“Appalling”, “quite frankly a joke”, “absurd” and “like Groundhog Day every year” are some of the descriptions of the council put forward by agents.
An article in the Salisbury Journal newspaper quotes agents and lawyers claiming it takes up to 12 weeks in the county compared to neighbouring areas where it takes “a few days.”
In the piece the managing director of Bassets estate agents, David Clayton, says it is the same every year at this time. "Salisbury is quite frankly a joke when it comes to this – it is only when the council is publicly shamed and then, and only then, that they add a small extra resource to bring the time down to a more acceptable level. But it’s still appalling one when compared with other areas” he says.
A spokesman for the residential property team at Trethowans law firm says: "It's the most important search which we all wait for. Hampshire County Council completes them within a few days - it's 12 weeks with Wiltshire Council. The Land Charges staff themselves are outstanding and the quality of the search is superb. However, the fact that the turnaround of the search result takes weeks, not days, is a great shame.”
A council spokesman says extra staff have been drafted in to cope with increased demand. The authority claims the average turnaround time is “around 35 days.”