Transaction delay most likely to be blamed on council local searches

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22 January 2016

Searchflow 2016.jpgThose that opt for official (council) searches directly from their local authority believe that waiting for searches is the top reason for a delay in the conveyancing process, reveals SearchFlow.

SearchFlow’s latest conveyancing sentiment survey on council versus regulated searches reveals that 33% of conveyancers that only purchase council searches blame a delay in transaction on local searches. The second most common cause of delay is awaiting a mortgage offer.

However, from the respondents that only use personal (regulated) searches, only 6% blame local searches as the top cause of delay in the conveyancing process.

Maud Rousseau, Group Marketing and Communications Director, comments; “There is clearly a difference in customer experience between conveyancers who use council searches and those that use regulated searches.  Council searches are causing concern when it comes to speed of delivery.

Council searches have been in the spotlight over the last month following a decision made by HMRC that council produced CON29 data should be VAT applicable. The 1 February has been proposed as the date that VAT will be introduced.

Maud Rousseau, Group Marketing and Communications Director, comments: “It is highly likely that changes will take place on the 1 February but it remains to be seen how Local Authorities will deal with the extra cost implications. Some have indicated they will absorb the cost and others are looking to review their pricing altogether.”

The cost of council searches is not consistent and varies greatly across England and Wales, and in nearly all cases is more expensive than regulated searches.

However, with council searches still achieving the greater proportion of the market share, the cost of council searches is clearly not the prime influencing factor when conveyancers choose which type of service to opt for.

SearchFlow’s  survey revealed that the main reason conveyancers opt for a council search is because they are perceived to be more reliable and trustworthy.

Maud Rousseau, Group Marketing and Communications Director, comments: “Historically, personal searches have had a patchy reputation.  In the past, there were a number of one man bands and unregulated search providers and the quality from some was not the most reliable.

“However, the industry has moved on a lot since then and this outdated perception can’t be substantiated anymore. Members of the Council of Property Search Organisation (CoPSO) have to abide by the Search Code, ensuring members adopt the same practices used by local authorities.

“Comparing our extremely low level query rate and PI claims between council and regulated searches, we can categorically state that the difference is negligible and this has always been the case.”

Maud Rousseau concludes: “As a leading provider of both council and regulated searches, it is vital we engage with the industry to gather and reflect their sentiments.

“Imposing VAT on Con29 will have a significant impact on the price of council searches; they are already more expensive and are set to be even more so in most regions. In addition, our survey reveals that they cause the greatest concern for delay.

“However, many conveyancers have historically chosen council searches because they are perceived to be more reliable and trusted.   But regulated search providers are evolving at a great pace and successfully challenging this misconception and in the last year regulated local searches have claimed a greater market share than ever before.

“It will be interesting to review the industry’s sentiment on council versus regulated searches later in the year.”

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