Estate agents have been advised to manage their buyers’ and sellers’ needs, as conveyancing delays are set to worsen and last many years.
Serious delays in some parts of the country, experienced before property sales rose this summer, are likely to spread and worsen substantially.
Local authorities are making cutbacks in their search departments and are not investing in new technology. This is due to the Land Registry taking over the property search service, which is forthcoming. However, this process could take almost a decade.
Conveyancing Delays to Worsen and Last Years
These reductions arrive after what property search firm STL has called a “crazy number of conveyancing transactions.”
STL said that in July, it dealt with the highest number of transactions since 2007.
Also, STL reported that July transactions are still being delayed because of long turnaround times in local searches.
It says that staff taking holidays and some personnel not being replaced when they leave worsens this.
The centralisation of Local Land Charges information is a very slow process. Secondary legislation is due for October and it will then take two years to build the infrastructure, starting in 2017.
STL says that this will be followed by collecting all the Local Land Charges data, which will take five years.
STL claims that many local authorities still use poor technological methods, which means they must instead physically inspect old maps and paper files.
It also cautions that although private search firms provide higher tech and a faster service, they often have restricted access to the required information.
STL states that some councils are already cutting their Local Land Charges departments in preparation for the Land Registry’s takeover.
The business mentions staffing issues at Channock Chase, North East Lincolnshire, Oadby and Wigston, Weymouth and Portland, West Dorset and Wiltshire. It believes that the last full-time staff member at South Hams in Devon has now left.
Chief Executive of STL, Alan Thorogood, says: “Despite much controversy and with few passengers on board, centralisation of all Local Land Charges by the Land Registry will now progress as a result of the Conservative election. But the journey will be long and it’s unlikely to be all plain sailing.
“Everyone in the industry needs to pull together to manage client expectations. We need agents and solicitors to assist in this as much as they can in the affected areas.
“While it’s not ideal and may be a last resort, when an extended delay occurs, search delay insurance is an option.”1