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Sales fall through because of search delays, say agents

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.”

  • Lyn Burgoyne

    Been there done that, last year! It was a nightmare for as searches were taking upwards of 12 weeks instead of 2 weeks, due to poor management of staff in these crucial departments. The only thing we could do, and a number of agents did this, was to contact the office weekly asking how long specific searches were likely to take and then reporting this back to our clients. Our clients then knew we were being proactive and we kept the chains alive. Communication was the key. Good Luck Wiltshire agents.

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    Nest they will be saying that it would be a good idea to have a pack of information about each home ready for use in a transaction. It could be called an Information about Home Pack, IHP.

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    • 25 June 2015 10:19 AM

    12 weeks - that's a hell of a time to wait!

    It appears Mr Clayton was correct in his assumption that the council get shamed, then add resources, as announced by a the councils spokesmen!

  • Fake Agent

    This is my neck of the woods and I echo the sentiments made in the article. It's very frustrating, but I can't see it changing anytime soon.

  • Simon Shinerock

    It never ceases to amaze me how these bottlenecks are allowed to persist forever and then when something is finally done it's the wrong thing. I am sure that if the problem was dealt with intelligently, given current tech, it could be solved and buying property could be made as easy as buying a car.

  • Emma  Mitchell

    Utterly ridiculous that this is the case. You would assume that in these modern times it could be processed much quicker than 3 months. I really hope that steps are continued to put in place to resolve this.


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