A PropTech company that monitors search times for transactions says only just over two thirds of them are now completed in the government’s 10 day guidelines period.
ViewMyChain, a service that offers all parties to a chain the opportunity to view transaction progress through a series of milestones registered online, says that in early 2019 the then-housing minister Heather Wheeler reported that 80 per cent of searches were being completed in 10 working days.
This was seen as an essential element in the wider government objectives of speeding up, simplifying and making more transparent the house-buying process; most recently this has involved the anticipated trial of reservation agreements and apparently growing support for upfront information packs supplied to would-be buyers.
However, ViewMyChain’s analysis shows that search speeds have, on average, fallen.
Looking at monthly figures recorded on October 1, it discovered that just 68.5 per cent of searches were completed within the government’s stated timeframe of 10 days.
The vast majority of searches (84 per cent) were completed In 15 days during this period.
Figures recorded on November 4 - just last week - revealed a similar picture; again for this period 68.5 per cent of searches took 10 days or less.
ViewMyChain says there are distinct regional and local authority differences: the fastest eight were Lambeth, Bolton, Dartford, Manchester, Solihul, Suffolk Coastal and West Somerset.
The slowest eight regions for searches were Cherwell, Greenwich, Adur, Stafford, Bridgend, Maldon, South Kesteven and Camden.
A statement from ViewMyChain says: “It’s difficult to attribute the slowing down of search timeframes to a single factor. Instead, the issue should be viewed as the result of several problematic external influences. The government itself is disconnected from the process, and therefore does not appear to fully understand the steps that must be taken to deliver searches, and how these steps can be sped up. A lack of resources and stricter budgets have exacerbated the problem, slowing down the sales process.
“Time is of the essence when buying and selling homes, with many different parties keen to facilitate an exchange as quickly as possible. However, when it comes to searches and other legal requirements it can be difficult for agents to speed the process along. There are tools out there to assist with the home moving journey, though.”