OneSearch Direct  , the largest local search data company in the UK, has warned that the disparity in search delays is creating a postcode lottery where an increasing number of homebuyers are being unfairly penalised. OneSearch believe some local authorities are failing to prioritise the homebuying process at a time when the housing market is one of the most prominent pillars bolstering the economy.
Turnaround for Regulated (Personal) Local Authority searches currently range from 5 to 180 days, with Hackney Council advising that they are still unable to provide a full search due to a severe Cyberattack in October. Hackney is the first council to advise residents to take out indemnity insurance if they want to complete before March 31st.
Lidia Quinlan, Head of Sales, OneSearch Direct, comments:
“At OneSearch we’re working overtime to meet capacity during this spike in volumes. We anticipate the market will slow down eventually, but in the meantime, we’re throwing full resource towards supporting our clients. Unfortunately, some local authorities are doing the opposite, instead introducing restricted appointment systems which has severely limited the number of search requests for all search companies. It’s the homebuyer who ultimately suffers, not to mention property professionals involved in the transaction who don’t get paid until a transaction completes. The knock-on effect of these stagnating casefiles will be devastating for some firms’ revenue.
“It’s no surprise that local authorities with cloud-based systems and efficient processes are coping and even thriving during this property surge, while those who don’t are having problems. The issues surrounding most search delays have been prevalent long before COVID; technology and staff resource is a perennial issue for those local authorities who are unwilling to invest in improvements. However, the pandemic has shone a light on these inadequacies and the resulting impact on residents. The reality is that many homebuyers have already missed out on this tax break, and this number will undoubtedly increase.”
Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director, OneSearch Direct, comments:
“The search delay gap is widening between those who have an adequate IT infrastructure and are able to work remotely, and those who are still paper based or vulnerable to devastating cyber-attacks, as demonstrated by Hackney Council. The lack of consistency across all councils when processing searches plays a large part in the disparity over turnaround times. As we start to contemplate a post-pandemic future, we hope local authorities get the impetus to finally embrace technology and speed up this part of the homebuying process.”
Indemnity insurance has been protecting transactions from collapse for many years. There has been a marked rise in uptake of OneSearch Express , a no-search insurance policy which also includes a data report containing over 70% of the data normally obtained from local authorities. Express is typically returned in 2-5 working days and includes over 80 data points such as notices and traffic schemes, sourced from OneSearch Direct’s proprietary CON29 database.
The claims record for Express remains at 0% since its inception in 2015, and OneSearch Direct has released two new factsheets to highlight the pros and cons of Express insurance, one specifically for homebuyers which can be shared to help make a fully informed decision. These factsheets can be downloaded by clicking here .
For more information on OneSearch Direct, visit onesearch.direct  or call main Headquarters on 0800 052 0117.