Home buyers face delays in moving after council announce system upgrade
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People buying a home in North Norfolk face not being able to move in before Christmas because of a technical issue.
The problem arose after North Norfolk District Council announced it was shutting down its local land search department from Friday, November 13 until Monday, December 7 for an “IT upgrade”.
But the decision to do this now is being questioned when property transactions are at a peak. Many buyers want to be in their new homes before Christmas. Others are in a rush to complete on house purchases before the reduction on stamp duty ends on March 31, 2021.
Jan Hytch, chairwoman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents, representing more than 30 agents across the county, said: “We are very concerned about the decision to close the local land search system in North Norfolk for the best part of a month at such a crucial time.
“Not only are there people who are relying on searches being completed to be in their new homes by Christmas but the current stamp duty holiday runs out so a shutdown at this juncture could have a significant impact on our ability to get chains over the line before that deadline.
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“Surely it would be better to schedule it after the stamp duty deadline? From a timing point of view it would seem that North Norfolk District Council was thinking more of its own convenience than the people it serves.”
Hettie Simpson, who runs Big Skies Estates property agency in Holt, said: “Our jaws literally dropped ... in the busiest sales market since 2006, we and every other agent in North Norfolk have record numbers of sales in progression. There will be a huge number of people who will have their hopes dashed of being in their new homes for Christmas.”
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Jamie Minors, managing director of estate agents Minors & Brady, with four offices in Norfolk and Waveney, said: “I’ve been so frustrated, I felt like exploding. I can’t believe the councils didn’t foresee this and plan?”
Anna Farquharson, principal, Cozens-Hardy solicitors, Norwich, said: “It is woefully inconvenient. To do this upgrade when there is real uptick in the property market will have a huge knock-on effect.”
A spokesman from North Norfolk District Council told this newspaper: “We are pleased to say that there is currently no local backlog of property searches.
“Where possible, existing searches will be cleared before we close the system and any new searches received in the interim will be prioritised when we have upgraded our systems. We have reached out to search companies to make them aware of the temporary shutdown and advised them to plan accordingly.”