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What is the difference between a Regulated and Official Local Authority Search?

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Video Transcript:

"Hello it's Dan here from Property Searches Direct, I hope this finds you well?

So today we are talking about the differences, or indeed the similarities between a regulated local authority Search and an official Local Authority Search, or as we call them, a 'Council Sourced' Search, why do we call them that?

Let's explain...

So the only difference that should be between a Council Sourced Search and a Regulated Search is the person that completed the report. A Council Sourced Search or an Official Search is one that is completed by personnel at the Local Authority. Now they may be someone, in some councils they do this, have a dedicated member of staff that that's what they do and in the majority of Councils it's anyone that's available to deal with that task and find that data and complete those reports.

A Regulated Search is completed by an external source, so an independent search agent whose job it is solely to complete local authority searches. So, they will make an application, or an appointment to go an visit the council they will have access to their computer systems if they have them, have access to their archives their files their mapping and it is their job to interrogate the data to answer the questions that are raised in a Local Authority Search.

So, it's really important to understand that the data in both of those reports, Official Local Authority Search and a Regulated Local Authority Search, should indeed be identical. Both come with an insurance product so if there are any errors that have been picked up at any point that would manifest itself in to some sort of financial loss, then of course they'd both come with some insurance backing.

The one difference is the way in which they are laid out.

Now there are 340 odd local authorities around the country and each one will produce a Local Authority Search in a different format. Some look quite smart, some honestly look really messy and you need to work your way through them because the answers will be there, but they may not necessarily be laid out in a way that's easy to interpret or understand.

A regulated Local Authority Search is the same layout every single time and usually comes with nice front sheet with an overview of the main points that you need to be interested in with some lovely green ticks or some other codes in there to say that there are things you need to be aware of and they tend to drive you to some of the problem areas that you need to focus on. So a Regulated Search in our view, or in my view certainly, tends to be a little bit more consumer friendly, laid out in a slightly nicer, easier to digest way, which is why when you look at some of the big conveyancing firms, or a lot of conveyancing firms, they tend to prefer a Regulated Local Authority Search for the simple reason that they can very quickly see the information they need, and find the information they want to find because they know that every single one they look at is going to be laid out in the same way so they are not having to spend more time trying to work out the where answers are. So that's another reason why there's a difference between a Regulated and a Council sourced Search.

We at Property Searches Direct have the ability to order both a Council sources Search and a Regulated Search because, in some instances one or the other can be much quicker and we've got a video that will talk about the differences or the challenges that we have across the Local Authorities with the turnaround timescales and some reasons as to why that may be the case so perhaps you may want to watch that another time.

So, difference between a Local Authority Search from the Council and a Regulated Search in data format, no difference whatsoever, in terms of who is actually completing the report therein lies the difference. Now, the vast majority of lenders, Mortgage Lenders are very happy with a regulated local authority search and there are no issues whatsoever.

There are a handful and I mean literally a handful of lenders that are fairly obscure or maybe they deal with higher risk transactions that will not accept a Regulated Search and will insist on a Council Sourced Search.

So, if you are buying your Local Authority Search on its own or in a bundle of products, it's worth just checking with your lender whether they are accepting a Regulated Search or whether they are insisting on a Council sourced Official Search, so just worth clearing that up. So, those are the differences. To be fair, not a lot of difference at all in the data, a bit of difference in terms of who is completing them, but on the whole it's the data that's important and insuring that you are ordering the right product relative to the finance that you are getting.

So, I hope that was helpful. We'll do more videos on other bits and pieces and I look forward to catching up with you again soon."


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