Conveyancing Volumes Fall 6% Annually And 4% From Last Quarter
Brexit uncertainty has had a mighty impact on the conveyancing sector as conveyancing volumes dip and the number of active law firms’ plummets.
According to the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen, on an annual basis, conveyancing volumes have fallen by 6%. Similarly, the market has shrank by 4% on a quarterly basis with the market processing 255,989 cases in Q1 2019 compared to 267,438 in Q4 2018.
Research has found that over a third of the conveyancing sector is now controlled by the top 200 conveyancing firms as they stamp their dominance by making up 39% of the total conveyancing firms. Additionally, the top 1,000 conveyancers control over 75% of the total.
Whilst many conveyancers may have been absorbed into larger firms, the total active conveyancing firms has fallen to its lowest ever recorded figure in England and Wales. The total now stands at 3,961 active firms, a 9% drop in active firms over the past five years.
As the upper end of the market continues to consolidate and increase its dominance, low-volume ‘occasional conveyancers’ have fallen sharply. Firms processing fewer than 50 transactions per year have fallen by 10% since 2014.
Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen, commented:
“The consolidation of the market continues in conveyancing. However, while larger firms are processing a higher share of activity, it would be a mistake for them to rest on their laurels.
“The beginning of 2019 has marked a dampening of overall current activity. During the lull in transactions, we encourage those companies who have strengthened over the last few years to pause and take stock of the current landscape to avoid missing out on key opportunities resulting from the current industry shifts.
“As smaller firms that tend to operate on a more local scale are increasingly squeezed out of the market, we risk seeing a consequent fallout of their specialist knowledge. It is here that technology can play a crucial role. Continued efforts by the Government to digitise property and land data – coupled with innovative and efficient ways to add to and maximize the growing pool of information – mean that conveyancers and lawyers can benefit from better insights at their fingertips.
“Our analysis shows that average number of cases conveyancing firms dealt with in Q1 2019 still remains relatively healthy even in the face of market headwinds. However, going forward we expect a prevailing sense of uncertainty until the ongoing political fog lifts across the UK. There may be challenging times ahead if firms want to grow beyond their current level of business, and it will be even more critical that companies take the reins and prepare now if they are to weather any future storms.”
What do these figures suggest about the conveyancing sector? Have you noticed a depreciation in conveyancing volumes this year? Are you concerned by the fall in active conveyancers?