An umbrella body representing search organisations says searches “are very rarely the cause of delays” in transactions.
The Council of Property Search Organisations says recent statements from the government about moves to make house buying less stressful and more transparent suggest that it recognises “the positive contribution made over many years by private sector search companies to the benefit of home buyers and sellers.”
“The government findings vindicate what we have been saying for some time now’” claims CoPSO chairman James Sherwood-Rogers, “that searches are very rarely the cause of delays.”
He says that when a search is slow to come back, it is invariably the local council where the problem lies. “Of course, it is also important that conveyancers order their searches as early as practicable” he adds.
“We are pleased that the government announced in the response document that it now expects local authorities to turnaround a search request within 10 days and grant reasonable access to personal search agents, but given the problems that we have had over the years in getting access to council data, we believe the government needs to provide clarity on what ‘reasonable access’ means” says Sherwood-Rogers.
CoPSO has called on government to stipulate local authorities should give access to data to regulated personal search companies in a time frame that matches the turnaround for their own searches, and in any event no greater than seven working days.
“Unfortunately there are a handful of councils with a track record in limiting public access to their records. It is often the same councils who take weeks to turnaround searches and have high charges. It’s time to end this postcode lottery by ensuring a level playing field and providing genuine” insists Sherwood-Rogers.