House sales hit by long delays after new local property search forms introduced

Local authority search delays are holding up property sales after new forms were introduced last month.

One authority, South Hams Council in Devon, which normally turns around searches within a week, has apologised for the delays, stretching its normal turnaround time to five weeks.

It says that this is due to “unforeseen technical issues” and the introduction of the new CON29 forms, which demand more information.

A story in EYE warned that conveyancing delays would be inevitable.

South Hams says extra staff are being brought in and existing employees are working overtime to deal with the backlog.

Dartmouth estate agent Richard Blake told his local paper: “We are having considerable problems with the timescale of searches at the moment.

“One buyer was considering pulling out of a sale this week because of the stress it had caused.”

Blake said many local authorities were experiencing disruption due to the introduction of the new CON29 forms on searches.

“The new system requires council staff to grapple with additional questions, and because of computer failures they were having to manually process searches,” he said.

Stuart Millard, manager of Stags in Dartmouth, said: “It is a struggle but we have to deal with what we’ve got.

“We are fortunate compared to other areas in the UK who are having to wait double the time or even longer for searches to be completed.”

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