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Sort Out Searches! Government asked to intervene over council delays

Sort Out Searches! Government asked to intervene over council delays

A trade body has called on House Secretary Robert Jenrick to intervene over the growing problem of delays in councils providing search information to buyers and conveyancers.

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) says more than 35 per cent of local authorities are now taking more than 20 working days to process search requests – and in many cases the delay is for 30 days “or significantly more.”

CoPSO chairman James Sherwood-Rogers says: “With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March looming large, the progress of home purchase transactions is becoming increasingly time critical.

“It is vital that the current delays in procuring searches at an increasing number of local authorities is addressed urgently; and we have no doubt that this needs attention at central government. Responsibility for the operation of the housing market, and for local authorities come together with Robert Jenrick and this is the reason we have approached him for his direct intervention.”

The trade body says it fully understanding that a hyperactive property market and the challenging conditions surrounding Coronavirus make it difficult for councils.

“We have communicated with many of the authorities that have substantial backlogs and delayed turnaround times, and the feedback from the overwhelming majority is that they are under-resourced. With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday being primarily responsible for the overactive property market, and the Chancellor stubbornly refusing to extend the deadline, it behoves central Government to provide additional resource to local government to address the problem of search delays” insists Sherwood-Rogers.

CoPSO says it’s willing to help Jenrick and his Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to identify those authorities which urgently need additional resources.

Meanwhile two other industry bodies – The Guild of Property Professionals and The Bold Legal Group – have called on agents, conveyancers and others in the transaction process to “work together, constructively and harmoniously.”

The organisations’ chief executives – Iain McKenzie from the Guild and Rob Hailstone from the BLG – says both agent and conveyancer roles are difficult.

Hailstone comments: “In most cases, the client, the agent and the conveyancer have one goal in mind, a safe, stress free, quick transaction. Pulling together will achieve all of these much easier than pulling each other apart.”

McKenzie adds that agents and conveyancers should agree on how best to communicate with each other and set out who will be responsible for chasing whom on each of the aspect pertaining to the property transaction.

“There needs to open communication and regular meetings between the agent and conveyancer, where they can discuss and update each other on the status of the various transactions in the process of being completed. It is important to have a course of action in place and good working relationship to ensure the highest number of possible transactions are delivered before the [stamp duty holiday] deadline at the end of March” he says.

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