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Named And Shamed - Councils with slowest search responses 

Homebuyers are suffering huge delays in receiving responses to their search requests to council according to a study of local authorities.

Consumer website Compare My Move submitted Freedom of Information requests to over 400 councils to check how long their local land search responses take. Some 230 failed to even respond to the request within four weeks. 

Of those authorities which did respond, homebuyers in Plymouth appear to see the longest delays, with an average 36 days to complete a Local Land Search - a year ago the average was 11 days.


Compare My Move says a possible reason for the delay is the sheer number of requests to that council - 80 per cent more now than this time in 2020.

Next comes Lewes council taking an average of 35 days to complete a local land search - up from 19 days in 2020 – despite only receiving an average of 261 search requests a month. 

Wiltshire and Salford councils (both 33 days) and Welwyn Hatfield on 25 days are next. 

At the other end of the scale, over 60 per cent of the councils analysed came in under the eight-day average to complete a local land search. 

Impressively, 11 councils take just one working day to complete a local land search – including North Devon council, Cardiff council and City of York.

Compare My Move also says it’s worth highlighting Dartford council receives over 1500 requests a month on average and manages to maintain a 24-hour average turnaround. To put that into perspective, the other 10 councils with a below-24-hour-turnaround receive fewer than 530 requests on average a month each. 

Seven councils including Manchester, Braintreel, Gateshead and Malvern Hills just fall short of a 24-hour average turnaround, all completing local land searches in two working days. 

Compare My Move’s director Dave Sayce says: “Typically, the conveyancing process can take anywhere between eight to 12 weeks from the point the sale is agreed, but it will vary for everyone, depending on whether you’re in a chain or not and as shown by this study, where you’re buying.

“It’s a crucial process to the transaction, and to ensure a stress-free process, it’s vital you take on a licensed and regulated conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to help guarantee it’s completed legally.”

You can see more details of the Compare My Move research here

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Compare My Move sent requests to over 400 UK councils. Only those that responded within four weeks and with a completed data set were included in the analysis - that was 171 councils.

The questions asked were:

-   How many local land search requests do you receive monthly for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021?

-   How many local land searches do you process each month for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021? and 

-  On average how long does each local land search take to complete? This could be given in days, weeks or months. 

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Clearly didn't test Hackney as they would have blown Plymouth out of the water!


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