What is a local authority search and what's the delay?

Local searches are an essential part of the conveyancing process and can reveal vital information to people looking to move house. tmgroup Managing Director Paul Albone explained to BBC Wiltshire exactly what a Local Authority search is and why they’ve been holding up property transactions in Wiltshire.

What is a local authority search? 

“It’s generally information that’s sourced from the local authority – there’s more than 300 of those across England and Wales – and [the local search] provides information that’s relational to your property and your local environment.”

Why is it an essential part of the conveyancing process?

“When you’re moving into a house, you might fall in love with it but you don’t actually know what’s going on around your neighbourhood; or the ownership and plans for development on that property, so it [the local search] really exposes that type of information to you [the buyer].”

What sort of problems can it flag up?

“For instance: you’re moving into a new house and it’s got a massive oak tree in the back garden. The first thing you’re going to do is get a tree surgeon to take that [away] to give you some more light in the kitchen. One of the things that can happen is that you’ve got a tree preservation order on it so you won’t be able to do that.”

“Or you’re choosing that house because there’s a similar property down the road and there’s a nice single-storey extension that’d be great for a kids’ playroom; you could move in and find that it didn’t have planning permission; building regs. haven’t been signed off so you’ll be liable for that cost and, at worst, be told to demolish the extension.”

On average, how long can it take for a local authority search to come back with the answers that you need?

“Massive variation here, bit of a postcode lottery I’m afraid… the quickest is in less than half a day; the worst is over 60 days.”

For more information on how long a local search takes, click here.

Listen to the full interview:

How long does a local authority search take?

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