Living in an expedited world

15th January 2021

It’s been a record-breaking start to 2021 for the property market and the latest numbers show almost 550,000 buyers want to complete before the March 31st deadline – double the usual number of sales in the first three months of the year. With the stamp duty deadline looming, slow parts of the conveyancing process have become more apparent.

I have been with Terrafirma from the beginning, and in the early days there were many aspects of our service that relied on manually interpreting mining risk, which could at times be lengthy and time consuming. As a Geologist and Head of Searches, I have seen first-hand the changes and innovations to our reports over the past 5 years. Terrafirma’s in-house experts have worked year-after-year to scale-up the provision of expert, accurate and interpreted ground and mining risk assessment without losing time on transactions and above all providing quality, interpreted reports for conveyancers.

In 2018 Terrafirma created the first alternative to the Coal Authority CON29M, and in 2019 we became the first search provider to include a Mine Entry Interpretive Report upfront when there is a mine shaft or adit identified within 20 metres, eliminating the need for obtaining additional reports which saves the purchaser time and money. As a result, we have a process where every report benefits from expert assessment without compromising on a quick turnaround; at present 95% of Terrafirma CON29M reports are returned within 5 minutes.

Within both the Ground Report and CON29M report we provide coal mining subsidence claims information within 50 metres of property, as standard. The inclusion of the claims information not only speeds up the transaction, as it has all relevant information you would find from the Coal Authority Claims Buffer Report, it is also at no additional cost, saving you and your client time and money as you don’t need to purchase additional reports.

For an efficient service, it is important to us to ensure that the technical information within our search reports is accurate and our recommendations are translated into useful next steps for conveyancer, lender, and purchaser. Both of our flagship reports clearly show if ‘lender attention’ is required, using colour-coded markers which takes out the guess-work, saving time and providing peace of mind for conveyancers.

In our 6th year of Terrafirma we have hit record-breaking report volumes, as a comparison our December 2020 report volumes are 52% higher than December 2019 and we are proud to say we are completing all assigned cases on the same day or following day from order, even with the higher demand due to the SDLT holiday.

The average property transaction time increased in 2020 from 12 weeks to 20 weeks, and it appears that the backlog is centred around time consuming local authority searches. Our experience has shown how beneficial it is to have efficient systems in place to ensure demand can be met even as it rapidly increases. Hopefully, the current situation will drive a change in how local authorities store and retrieve information so that property transactions are not held up even when demand is at its peak.

The Terrafirma team are committed to helping our partners and clients achieve their goals even when faced with a looming deadline. To see the benefits of Terrafirma’s suite of conveyancing ground risk reports visit: or speak to your preferred search provider.

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Blog written by Maura Partridge

Contact the team for more information and advice

Tel: 0330 900 7500