The organisation locked in a war of words with the Land Registry over local land charges is calling on Business Secretary Vince Cable to reverse a government decision to centralise the handling of searches.
The Council of Property Search Organisations cried foul last month when the government announced that, as part of the Digital By Default modernisation programme, local land charge registers would be held centrally by the Land Registry.
"Mr Cable could protect the property market and the tax payer by intervening in this senseless project" claims CoPSO chairman James Sherwood-Rogers.
CoPSO disputes that the centralisation is to make digitalisation easier and instead insists it is - in its own words - "just a way to fatten up the Land Registry to maximise the proceeds in the event of a sale."
In the past CoPSO has also hinted at the possibility of legal action, staged jointly by local authorities and itself, although this has so far not materialised.
Sherwood-Rogers now claims "search turnaround times are ballooning in some locations due to the crass handling of this initiative by Land Registry officials."
CoPSO also claims that other, unspecified projects undertaken by the Registry "have failed spectacularly at a cost of £87m to the tax payer."
Land charges, currently held by a number of local authorities and firms as well as by the Land Registry, are searched by conveyancing solicitors on behalf of buyers, and contain information relating to planning applications, listed buildings status, tree preservation orders, and enforcement notices.
- Vince Cable
- land registry
A raft of reports show that those who dismissed talk of housing bubbles earlier this year were just about dead right - the market is slowing, significantly.
The Mortgage Market Review and warnings from the Bank of England have created a drag on transactions and prices according to latest data.
RICS’ latest residential survey shows that a net balance of 53 per cent of surveyors in its monthly analysis reported an increase in prices in June - slightly down from 56 per cent in May, with prices rising in all 12 of its regions.
The south east of England and Northern Ireland experienced the strongest price gains for the second consecutive month, although the rate of price growth in London eased.
But demand for property stands at its slowest pace since the beginning of 2013, with the London market particularly affected by the increased air of caution, where buyer demand fell for the second consecutive month in June.
The slower trend in demand has also been reflected in RICS’ newly agreed sales balance – a good indicator of market activity – which is showing the most subdued pace of increase since autumn 2012. Meanwhile, new instructions increased for the first time since December 2013.
And although we at Estate Agent Today have long cautioned against taking any one month’s single price index too seriously, the latest measure from the Halifax also shows an easing - with prices actually dropping 0.6 per cent in June across the UK.
Halifax’s quarterly measure is more encouraging but still shows a sober picture.
It suggests that prices in the three months to June were 8.8 per cent higher than in the same three months a year earlier.
The number of sales edged down by three per cent in May to below 100,000 for the first time in six months; however, transactions are still 15 per cent higher than in May 2013.
New buyer enquires fell for the sixth consecutive month in May, which if sustained could moderate further growth in demand says the Halifax.
And no one anywhere is talking ‘bubbles’ any more...
- housing market
Greater London house prices have risen 15.6 per cent in the past year according to LSL but values in some of the capital's most expensive addresses are now firmly on their way down.
Four of the top five boroughs with the highest average house value now have average prices that are actually below their peaks of earlier this year. In three of the four, prices are five per cent or more below peak.
Meamwhile LSL's national house price index saw an increase of 9.6 per cent in the past year - although this collapses to only 5.2 per cent once London and south east England’s increases are removed from the equation.
LSL director David Newnes says the figures make the case for Help To Buy in an era when there are new affordability regulations and stress tests tightening mortgage approvals.
“Help to Buy remains a crucial link in bolstering first-time buyer demand. HTB may not make a difference in London, but it is a vital aid for aspiring homebuyers in parts of the country where prices are still regaining ground lost during the recession. Places like Lancashire and York are still experiencing annual growth below one per cent" he says.
- housing market
It just doesn’t stop. Each Friday we give a brief round-up of agents' charity work, and summer sunshine has only encouraged more of you, it seems.
We at EAT and LAT hugely admire the often-unsung work by agents who donate energy, time and money to charity. We want to shine a spotlight on this side of agency.
If you want to be mentioned, please let us know. Email email@example.com.
CARDINAL HUME CENTRE: £19,000 has been raised by a (freshly-rebranded) Chestertons team in Grosvenor’s 13th Annual Dragon Boat Regatta at Marlow. The agency set the fastest time in each of the rounds to beat 27 other teams to the coveted trophy.
CHARITY VOLUNTEERING: Staff from across five branches of Waterfords, in Camberley, Sunningdale, Chobham, Fleet and Yateley, have completed their first week of volunteering, after each agreeing to donate one working day to help in the local community.
The first team spent a day with Camberley-based charity Make-a-Wish Foundation. The team was tasked with helping to put together more than 2,500 fundraising packs to be sent out to supporters of the charity.
Another team of five Waterfords volunteers embarked on a day of manual labour at Frimhurst Family House in Frimley Green - a manor which welcomes disadvantaged families from all over the country for short respite breaks.
Gary Brook, Waterfords director, says the team “had an extremely tiring but very rewarding day. The team at Frimhurst Family House looked after us tremendously well and I am delighted that, in a very small way, we were able to contribute to such a fantastic facility.”
HELP FOR HEROES: Rook Matthews Sayer has been showing its support for our servicemen and women - staff have been busy baking and raising money from cake sales at branches, as well as donating £10 for every house sold. So far a whopping £6,263.33 has been raised.
- estate agents
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