• Lewis Dean Estate & Letting Agents


The Negotiator magazine has found at least three large councils where agents / buyers are seeing 'nightmare' waiting times.

by Nigel Lewis

Councils around the UK are struggling to complete pre-sale local search results, jeopardising scores of house sales as the stamp duty deadline approaches.

Home buyers in west Dorset are being turned down for mortgages due to long delays in the conveyancing process caused by a council backlog, while in Harrogate homebuyers face lengthy queues to finalise their purchases.

Meanwhile, Hackney Council is still suffering from a cyber-attack on its IT systems – putting a complete halt to the process – and has the highest turnaround time for searches in the country, at six months.

In Harrogate, local search requests take an average of 27 working days to process. The council says it faces, “unprecedented levels of demand” and received more than 700 search requests in October alone – almost twice as many as the same month in 2019.

EXTRA STRAIN Agents in Dorset blame a new system introduced to amalgamate the county’s former district and borough councils which has added extra strain to an already over-loaded system. Delays of up to 13 weeks mean home buyers risk being gazumped by cash buyers as city dwellers flock to Dorset, affecting the entire chain.

Matt Gregg, manager of Wilson Tominey estate agent in Weymouth, told the Bridport News that there were delays of 45 to 50 working days in Weymouth and Portland, and up to 70 days in Chickerell and West Dorset, describing the situation as “an absolute nightmare”.

He says: “While local searches are a requirement for a majority of mortgage companies, people purchasing with cash have the option to forgo this – and therefore cash purchasers appear a more attractive buyer to the vendor of the property – which is obviously pushing out the first-time buyers, the local buyers, because they don’t appear as desirable.”

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