Grantham housebuyers and estate agents ‘fed up’ as local searches take too long

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Estate agents in Grantham are concerned that local searches are taking far too long and are holding up house sales.

Agents say that searches which normally take up to two weeks are now taking as much as 10 weeks to complete.

This can often leave people who are in the process of moving house still paying council tax on an empty property. It is also slowing down the local property market, which has improved recently.

Nicola Toze, of Haart, said: “The searches are holding everything up. Sales are ready, but the searches just aren’t coming back. People are getting really fed up.”

Local searches are carried out by the local authority, South Kesteven District Council. They are designed to reveal information about the property and surrounding area for the benefit of buyers and sellers. The search could reveal future planning issues, nearby road schemes, contaminated land and any number of other issues.

Most estate agents blamed the boost in sales for increasing the workload on the council .

Pam Cameron Clarke, of Escritt, Barrell, Golding, said: “We have had searches approaching 10 weeks to come back. It slows down the process and and delays completion dates.”

A spokesman for Connells said: “They take six to ten weeks to come back, on average eight weeks.”

Head of Development Services at SKDC, Mark 
Williets, said the council had experienced a substantial growth in land search activity recently – at times the increase has been more than 46 per cent - and if the current rate continued the demand will be equal to that experienced in 2006-07 before the recession began to bite.

Mr Williets said: “In many ways this is good news because this is an indicator that the local economy is becoming much stronger. However, this regrettably means that we have taken longer to turn around searches than our customers would expect and we have responded by allocating additional resources into this area.”

Existing staff are working overtime, extra staff have been brought in and Mr Williets said he was confident that the measures taken to deal with the influx would result in an improvement being seen very soon.

“In the meantime we are taking information from applicants about their critical dates and we will do everything in our power to hit them and we will keep customers informed on progress every step of the way.”

To find out more about searches and how much they cost go to www.south
kesteven.gov.uk