Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Huge increase in land search requests as house buyers rush to beat stamp duty deadline

HOUSE buyers trying to beat a March deadline have swamped Stratford District Council with requests for land searches.

The council has reported an unprecedented doubling in the number of requests as buyers rush to take advantage of the government’s stamp duty “holiday” before it ends.

Back in 2018, the council was named the slowest in the country to complete searches – an essential part of the housebuying process – prompting an apology.

Since then, £315,000 has been invested in the service and performance has improved.

Opposition councillors raised concerns that buyers might find themselves out of pocket if the council struggled with the demand in the run-up to the deadline. But so far the authority appears confident it can cope with the increase, having doubled the number of staff dealing with searches.

Cllr Anne Parry, portfolio holder for regulatory services, said: “In the wake of changes to stamp duty, the council restructured its land charges team in September last year and doubled staff resources to cope with the 100 per cent increase in search requests over the last five months.

“Between August and December we received over 3,400 requests – an unprecedented level of demand – but we still managed to reduce response times for official searches to around 25 working days, with personal searches down to under 20 working days.

“The land charge service continues to operate under lockdown and Covid-secure restrictions. Despite this, at present average response times for official searches and personal searches are generally being completed within this same time frame.

“Whilst thousands of transactions have been completed in the last few months, we are aware that there are still many buyers and sellers hoping to take advantage of the stamp duty exemption expiring at the end of March. In anticipation of a further increase in demand, we have published helpful guidance to residents and solicitors on our website.

“For searches submitted on or before 12th February, we anticipate completion of official searches within around 25 working days, but we will be unable to confirm the turnaround time for searches submitted after this date.

“The timescales involved in a house purchase vary depending on the buyer’s and seller’s circumstances and we are aware that solicitors who manage the whole process are extremely busy, as are the mortgage lenders.”

For more information on requirements linked to an official or personal search, buyers, sellers and agents are advised to access the council’s website or email foi@stratford-dc.gov.uk.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More