Keep The Momentum Of Digitisation Going Urges Industry Data Provider

The property sector must maintain the progress it has made in a very short space of time urges Search Acumen’s Andy Sommerville in an interview with Today’s Conveyancer discussing the release of their latest Conveyancing Tracker.

Search Acumen’s Conveyancing Market Tracker was launched 5 years ago, tracking the volume of transactions completed by law firms in England and Wales.

Asked about the overall trends in that time Andy suggested that despite quarterly fluctuations, the market remains incredibly fragmented.

The top 5 conveyancing firms by volume have retained around 6% market share over the last 5 years, with the top 100 by volume firms having a 29% market share.

The discussion quickly moved on to the inevitable impact of Coronavirus, albeit that the current tracker finishes at the end of March, just as lockdown was beginning to bite.

Against a backdrop of a 6% slump in the national economy March 2020 saw just 55,381 transactions registered – down 34% from March 2019 and

47% from January 2020 to the lowest monthly total since April 2013 (54,064).

And despite a 5% increase in overall transactions since Q4 2019, helped by the brief post-election bounce at the start of the year, closer inspection reveals that the number of active firms fell rapidly from 4,135 in January to 3,726 in March 2020 – a record low since records began in Q2 2011 with over 400 firms going quiet and not registering a single transaction.

Speaking about getting the market moving again now that some of the restrictions on moving home have been relaxed, Somerville pointed out that there has been a huge amount of collaboration amongst conveyancers, lenders, land registry and data suppliers.

Imploring the sector to “take the positives” from the current situation to “drive the acceleration of digitisation”, Somerville suggests that progress is being made. HM Land Registry will accept virtual signing on deeds and have relaxed their procedures on verifying individuals. Local Authorities have started to make information online faster and Estate Agents are using virtual tours to showcase homes.

“Make it permanent” says Sommerville. “Keep the momentum going.”

The sector has shown huge resilience as firms have “adapted and got on with it” citing the adoption of new ways of working not only internally, but also externally where there is a greater willingness to communicate via channels like Zoom and Teams.

The Conveyancing Tracker is available now on Today’s Conveyancer.


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