Search delays adding stress for buyers, sellers – and agents

Searches are taking weeks to come through in several parts of the country.

Following our story on Monday’s Eye about searches in Exeter now taking six weeks, other blackspots have emerged.

These include the London borough of Sutton, where searches have been taking over ten weeks and where the council has taken the unprecedented step of writing to agents to apologise.

Neil Barnes, a partner at Winkworth, said: “The local borough are citing ‘a combination of increased demand for the service and staff shortages’ and anticipate being able to return to normal turnaround times of seven to ten working days by the middle of July.

“However, they are currently working on searches submitted on May 22, so they are still five weeks behind.

“It is affecting just about every transaction we have in our pipeline. The consequences are that mortgage offer deadlines are being missed and sales transactions are taking much longer to complete.

“This is making the whole moving process even more stressful for sellers and buyers alike, and is detrimental to our business as it affects cashflow considerably.”

Another blackspot is North Wiltshire, where Keith Maslin of Blount & Maslin, in Malmesbury, says that searches continually take six weeks.

He said: “I wrote both to my MP, James Gray, and my local councillor back in August 2013, and while there was a temporary improvement, with the market having taken off early this year it is now back to six weeks.

“With the holiday season upon us, it is only going to get worse.

“That, combined with the new Mortgage Market Review, means sales progression is a nightmare.”


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  1. bridget

    B&NES council covering Bath and North East Somerset have also been taking six weeks on average for months now and it is also causing real problems. There seems to be no way of expediting them, even if cases end up getting urgent due to mortgage offers running out.

  2. allsorts

    This is to do with the Government wanting to give Land Registry wider powers so that they become the sole provider of Local Land Charges searches.

    This is what the #savelandreg campaign has been about

    However, it has not yet been legislated for! The Bill is facing lots of opposition as it goes before the Lords, so contrary to it is not a done deal! Government have jumped the gun!

    The backlog of work, I suspect, is coming from the redundancies made in Local Authorities due to cost cutting measures across the board. It's all part of the Government's plan to digitalise services.


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