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Moverly has revealed the average waiting time for a homebuyer submitting a local authority search

by | May 24, 2023

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Market analysis by digital home information pack provider, Moverly, has revealed that while the average waiting time for a homebuyer submitting a local authority search is just 3 weeks across England and Wales, those buying within Bolton Metro Borough Council are having to wait as long as 21 weeks, having seen a 15 week increase since the start of the year.

Local authority searches are an essential part of the homebuying journey. Central to the conveyancing process, they provide specific information about a property and its surrounding areas that might impact the experience of living in the home as well as its future value.

The time it takes for local authorities to complete these searches varies widely from one pocket of the country to the next, so Moverly has analysed data from Property Searches Direct to find out which local authorities are currently forcing buyers to wait for the longest time, and which have seen their average wait times increase the most since January of this year.

The good news is that across England & Wales, the average local authority search time is currently 15 working days or 3 weeks, marking a reduction of two working days since January. 

But while this national average is encouraging, the reality for many buyers is that it takes far longer. 

It’s especially bad news for anyone looking to buy a home in the region controlled by Bolton Metro Borough Council. Here, the average local authority search time has increased by 15 weeks since January. 

This is the largest increase of all local authorities and also means that Bolton Metro Borough Council has the longest average turnaround time at 21 weeks!

The other local authorities to see the largest increase in turnaround times are Carlisle City Council (+4 weeks), Hertsmere Borough Council (+3.4 weeks), Powys County Council (+3.4 weeks), South Ribble Borough Council (+2.8 weeks), West Lancashire Borough Council (+2.4 weeks), and West Northamptonshire Council (+2.4 weeks).

After Bolton Metro, the local authorities with the longest average turnaround times are currently London Borough of Camden, East Staffordshire Borough Council, Lichfield District Council, and Tamworth Borough Council, all of which take an average of 8.6 weeks.

This is followed by West Lancashire Borough Council, Torfaen County Borough Council, Newcastle upon Tyne City Council, Durham County Council (Unitary), and Epping Forest District Council where the turnaround is currently 7.4 weeks. 

Moverly co-founder Ed Molyneux, commented: 

“The conveyancing process is one of the biggest holdups when it comes to home buying. Without efficient conveyancing, the buying timeline can be dragged out by weeks, if not months. 

At the centre of conveyancing is the local authority search, essential and unavoidable, it’s immensely frustrating that the turnaround time can be so long and that it can vary so drastically between one local authority and the next. 

Why such a difference? It’s essentially a case of resource availability and management, as well as quantity of requests submitted, not to mention the fact that local authorities are painfully manual where their systems are concerned. 

What’s more, while utilising an accredited third party to complete ‘regulated’ or ‘personal’ searches can be quicker, they are also at the mercy of local councils due to the fact they need to book an appointment to use a council computer or to access paper files. 

Unfortunately, like many archaic aspects of the property transaction process, there’s not a great deal that can be done.

However, by having a good idea of just how long it could take in your local area, you can, at least, get a jump on proceedings, as well as having a more concrete idea on timeline without being in the dark.”

Data tables

Data tables and sources can be viewed here.

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