Research into Local Authority Search wait times reveals huge disparities

While many authorities have managed to reduce their waiting times, it’s clear that some are still struggling when it comes to servicing the market.

Ruth Beeton, Home Sale Pack

Some councils are seeing wait times for Local Authority Searches (LA Searches) jump from just six to 62 days, new data from up-front information platform, Home Sale Pack reveals.

But the time taken for England & Wales’ local planning councils to return LA Searches has actually reduced by 22.5% or an average of four days.

However, research from Home Sale Pack says this reduction counts for little, as it is based on reduced demand, not improved process.

LA Searches are an essential part of the conveyancing process but the average turnaround time for an LA Search in England & Wales is 13 days. This is four days less than the 2023 average of 17 days, marking an annual reduction of -22.5%.

Cooling housing market conditions and reduced buyer demand means that across England & Wales’ 344 local councils, 132 (38%) have managed to reduce the average turnaround time since last year.

Gloucester City Council

Gloucester City Council has reduced its average turnaround time by -94.4%, falling from 177 days in January 2023 to just 10 days today.

Meanwhile South Derbyshire District Council has reduced its waiting time by -83.3%, from 30 days down to just five while the average LA Search by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council now takes 10 days compared to 55 days in January 2023 – an annual reduction of -81.8%.

While many authorities have managed to reduce their waiting times, it’s clear that some are still struggling when it comes to servicing the market, with 53 (15%) of the nation’s 344 planning councils recording an increase in average LA Search turnaround times.


The largest increase has been recorded by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council. Today, it takes an average of 62 days to return an LA Search compared to just 6 days in January 2023. This is an astonishing annual increase of 933.3%.

And LA Searches by Bridgend County Borough Council now take 134 days compared to a 30-day average last year – an increase of 346.7% – and Southend-on-Sea City Council has seen the average LA Search turnaround time increase by 250%, rising from two days to seven days.

Other councils to see an increase of more than 100% are North Northamptonshire Council (150%), South Ribble Borough Council (133.3%), Cumberland Council (114.3%), and Bolton Metro Borough Council (106.7%).

Ruth Beeton (main picture), Co-Founder of Home Sale Pack, says: “A cooling housing market over the last year has meant that the workload of many local authorities has reduced, which in turn means some of them have been able to return Local Authority Searches more quickly.

“But it’s fair to say that this reduction is a bit of a hollow victory given that it’s down to falling demand, not improvements in the homebuying process.”


And she adds:  “Despite the reduced pressure, many councils still haven’t actually managed to reduce their waiting times, with a significant number still seeing them increase and by quite a margin in some areas.

“This is concerning because, as we move further into 2024, we fully expect market activity to increase which means councils’ workload will once again pick-up. As a result of this rising demand, homebuyers are going to be faced with elongated waiting times throughout their conveyancing journey as councils struggle to keep pace.

“Our industry needs new standards of excellence and we firmly believe that providing buyers with all of the information they need at the start of their buying journey will help reduce conveyancing times even in the face of rising demand.”

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