Estate Agent says a shortage of conveyancers is holding up property transactions

Paul Smith, CEO of estate agents haart says a shortage of conveyancers is holding up transactions with a long backlog starting to develop.

haart’s market monitor for February recently revealed an estimated 35% surge in the number of buyers entering the marketplace in the last year with housing supply up 7.9%, with the report putting the ratio of new buyers to new properties at 25.2 to one.

The estate agency also noted that exchanges had actually dipped by 7.5% year on year.

David Burgess at legal recruitment company Douglas Scott has also noticed a change.

David Burgess said: “To be perfectly honest, we’ve been experiencing an increase in the demand for conveyancers for some time now. Over the last 18 months to two years, we’ve definitely had an increase in interest in hiring residential conveyancers.

“There has been a bit more of a spike with the new changes in Stamp Duty Land Tax coming in, but there is definitely a shortage of good candidates out there at the moment.”

Paul Smith, CEO of haart, the UK’s largest independent estate agent said: “The property market in the new year has got off to a flying start with a surge in buyer registrations and new property instructions. The number of new homes coming on the market is up by a healthy 8% compared to a year ago but demand has surged by 35% over the same time period with buy-to-let investors responsible for a large proportion of this rise in anticipation of the stamp duty surcharge.

“This high level of activity has resulted in a substantial backlog of homes in the pre-completion stages, and we’re now seeing a shortage of conveyancers and lawyers to progress these sales, leading to delays and a subsequent decline in the number of completions in January. Across the UK, we’re now seeing more than 15 buyers chasing every property to come onto the market and house prices have subsequently risen by 10% annually.

“London is also seeing a high level of activity and finally the issues surround the supply of homes is starting to ease with a 20% increase in instructions registered compared to last year. In fact supply is now beginning to outpace demand which is up by 14% over the same time period. While this increase is very welcome, we are still seeing nearly 21 buyers for every instruction despite the slow-down at the top end of the market.

“First-time buyers have started the year enthusiastically with demand for starter homes up 26% annually. This is just the start of an upward trajectory for first-time buyers as the 3% stamp duty surcharge for buy-to-investors, due to be introduced in April, will mean less competition for homes.”

Today's Conveyancer