A trade body has hit back at suggestions that slow local authority searches are slowing down transactions.
The Council of Property Search Organisations said conveyancers waiting until the last minute to order searches are the problem.
It said that the number of local authorities causing unacceptable delays are “few and far between”.
CoPSO chairman James Sherwood-Rogers was speaking after figures from View My Chain – reported yesterday in EYE – show that it now takes 120 working days to get from SSTC to completion.
Sherwood-Rogers said that searches are in fact currently taking just under ten days, within the government target.
He said: “It is not search turnaround times that cause delays; rather it is because searches are not ordered in a timely manner.
“Statistics from View My Chain suggest that the average time taken for searches to be ordered when an offer has been accepted subject to contract is 23 days.
“If this is the average, there must be a number of conveyancers that are taking considerably longer than this and they are distorting the picture.”
He said that where searches are seriously delayed, for example in Camden and Derby, conveyancers can use insurance.
He added: “However, nobody wants to rely on insurance when making a decision about their future home, because no amount of money can fix certain issues around contamination, flood or planning for example.”
He went on: “Whilst some conveyancers are reticent to order searches at acceptance of offer, just in case the purchase falls through, they may be inadvertently increasing the possibility of chains breaking by risking a delay.
“Searches are available in most areas of the UK in just over a week.
“Those areas where it takes much longer are well known, and a CoPSO member can provide local advice where a conveyancer is not sure.
“To blame the search industry for delays is simply wrong.
“In fact, the opposite is true – CoPSO campaigns tirelessly on behalf of the search sector to ensure that there is fast access to local authority data, and works hard with stakeholders to ensure conveyancers order searches at the right time, rather than at the last minute.”