News & insights

News: 06 December 2021

Round up of an extraordinary year: search volumes soared but we pulled together to smash it on turnaround times

As 2021 draws to a close, we reflect on what has been another demanding year for Thames Water Property Searches and our customers. We have had to continue to be adaptable and resilient in order to carry out our duties.

For our team of dedicated search experts, the last 12 months have been all consuming as we have endeavoured to deliver an efficient service, without compromising on the comprehensive and reliable results that our customers have come to expect and rely upon.

The volume of searches processed increased almost three-fold this year, reaching levels not seen for well over a decade.

Says Thames Water Property Searches’ Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience Manager Sue Stevens: ‘We’ve seen unprecedented levels of movement this year. We haven’t been this busy since Home Information Packs (HIPs) became mandatory in 2007.

‘The residential market has been, and continues to be, very buoyant for us and there’s been no sign of this falling off even after the stamp duty holiday ended. September and October were equally busy,’ she adds.

Sue puts this down to the pent-up demand following the national lockdown at the beginning of the year, as well as the continuing stamp duty holiday, introduced in July of last year and extended twice before it eventually finished at the end of September.

Other factors leading to an increasingly fast-moving housing market as the year has progressed include accidental pandemic savings; record low interest rates and movers keen for a lifestyle change post Covid-19. Over the course of the last year the pandemic has led many to evaluate what they want from their homes. It has prompted an exodus from cities, with people looking to take full advantage of the working from home opportunity and move out to more rural areas.

Widespread availability of higher loan to value mortgages has also driven demand, particularly the introduction of a Government backed 95% mortgage guarantee scheme in March - a welcome boost for first time buyers.

The housing market has become increasingly heated, with demand outstripping supply. As a result, it has become more important than ever for buyers to do their research. This is vital to ensure they understand a property's true market value rather than making hasty decisions. This is where the expertise of our specially trained teams is invaluable in helping to interpret search results for busy conveyancers and their clients.

Sue praised the Thames Water Property Searches team, with staff continuing to pull together to meet the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19.

‘I can’t think of one person who hasn’t been affected by Covid-19,’ she says.

'Whether that’s through having to home school their children, caring for elderly parents or missing family. We’ve banded together as team – not just workwise but in terms of mental health and wellbeing as well.

‘Throughout all of this our turnaround time never fell below three days from the moment the search request was received to the moment it was dispatched.’

Sue explains that the business has had to be proactive and imaginative, thinking laterally to ensure we still deliver 100 per cent for customers.

‘We’ve really cross skilled our people – we had to, or we wouldn’t have coped with the volumes of searches. Nobody has been precious about their job, we’ve all mucked in,’ she says.

‘Whether its operational staff manning the phones or managers being prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in, in order to get the searches out the door. It’s been all hands-on deck. I’m immensely proud of our people,’ she adds.

‘They’ve coped with the things going on in their own lives and still produced fantastic customer service.’

Thames Water Property Searches would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers a happy holiday. Click here for details of our festive opening hours.

We’d also like to thank you for your business over the last year and look forward to continuing to work with you in 2022.
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