Around 90 major mortgage lenders already accept personal local searches as part of the home buying process including 9 out of the top 10 lenders, who alone provide nearly 75% of all mortgages in the UK. Over the past 5 years, the use of personal local searches has grown extensively and 50% of all local searches are now undertaken by private search firms. In 2006, solicitors commissioned over 650,000 personal searches on behalf of their clients providing an efficient and value for money service.
On 1 June 2007, the latest edition of the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook was published which showed an increase in the overall number of lenders willing to accept personal searches. Lenders’ growing support for personal searches follows the introduction of new industry standards for the search industry via the Search Code, which provides protection for homebuyers, sellers and mortgage lenders relying on search reports. The Code has been introduced by the Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) and compliance is independently monitored by the Property Codes Compliance Board. The private search industry has been swift to embrace these standards with firms providing over 90% of personal local searches, 100% of environmental searches, together with major water companies, chancel repair firms and the NLIS channels already having subscribed to the Code. The HIPs legislation also provides increased protection for consumers relying on search reports.
Commenting on lenders' support for personal searches, CoPSO Chairman Fiona Hoyle said:
‘Lenders’ support for personal searches has strengthened in the run-up to the introduction of HIPs, not declined. Ninety lenders now accept personal searches and they are responsible for the majority of mortgage lending in the UK. Lenders are sending a clear message that they will accept personal searches in HIPs. Solicitors also make extensive use of personal searches and commissioned over 650,000 last year. The introduction of new industry standards via the Search Code has generated increased confidence and we believe that only Code-compliant personal searches should be used in the home buying process, to ensure that consumers are protected.’