HM Land Registry launched its new digital local land charges (LLC) register last week, with Warwick District Council’s data the first to be available.
Cutting the time it takes to get results from days or weeks to seconds, up to 26 other local authorities are expected to follow suit this year, including Liverpool, Blackpool, Norwich, Peterborough and Lambeth in London.
Experts predict that it will save huge amount of time and money.
It is the latest in the Land Registry’s digital transformation, following the first digital mortgage in April.
Chief Land Registrar Graham Farrant said: “By centralising and digitising the local land charges information of local authorities in England, we are helping to improve conveyancing. Search results from the new register will be instantly available in a standard, easy-to-read format.
“This is another significant step forward in the Government’s ambition to make the home-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper.”
Search provider Searchflow completed its first LLC search using the service soon after it went live.
Operations director Stephen McCluskey said: “The digitisation of Warwick District Council’s LLC data marks the start of a major milestone in our industry.”
Andrew Lloyd, managing director of provider Search Acumen, added: “It is early days, but we think the ability to immediately execute LLC searches will completely transform UK property transactions.
“According to HMLR, decentralised LLC searches ranged from a few pounds to nearly £100, depending on the local authority. And, because the process is often manual, turnaround time can fluctuate from one business day to more than 40 days.
“With around 979,000 transactions registered over the last four quarters across England and Wales, that’s anywhere between 979,000 working days of waiting time at best, or more than 39 million at worst.”
Mr Lloyd said improved data access, standardised fees and faster turnaround times “mean solicitors and conveyancers will save millions of days a year in unnecessary waiting times – and property buyers will save millions of pounds in unnecessary costs”.