The impact of the continued pressure on conveyancers in 2011 is starkly revealed in statistics from Land Registry.
Comparing the number of transfers for value registered by account holders at Land Registry there were 1299 fewer firms making applications in 2011 compared with 2010. So whilst there are over 10,000 solicitors practices and 700 licensed conveyancing practices in the country only 7677 account holders made applications in 2011 compared with 8976 in 2010.
At the top end of the market the top 10 firms increased their collective market share from 5.3% to 7.1% representing an increase in their market share by one third in a single year. Birchall Blackburn and Conveyancing Direct were amongst the firms that grew their volumes the most.
With so many firms giving up conveyancing it is likely that this trend will continue or accelerate and it is not inconceivable that in a short space of time the top 10 account holders will have 15% of the market.
The top 250 account holders increased their market share from 28.7% to 33.9%
My Home Move reinforced its leading position by increasing its numbers by 18% to 11419, followed by Countrywide Property Lawyers and O’Neill Patient.
Kevin Smith, Operations Director at My Home Move put their success down to their approach to business saying “We have a strong belief in listening to what our Customers and the changing market place is telling us they need or require – not what we may think they need.” We hope to be publishing an interview with Kevin later this week.
Not only did conveyancers have to face the challenges of panel membership, and professional indemnity renewal the total number of applications dropped from 721,089 to 651,912 resulting in a truly miserable year for many firms.
A BBC spokesperson commented:
“There is no doubt about it, house sales in the UK have been in their worst slump since contemporary records began in the late 1970s.
With just 869,000 homes sold in the UK last year, the figures for 2011 are bang in line with those for both 2009 and 2010.”
Last year we predicted: “This is a cottage industry. The figures clearly indicate that many firms are operating at the threshold of profitability. Alternative business structures, the reform of professional indemnity insurance and reductions in panels means that many firms will be considering their future in the field.” Unfortunately it looks as if this is a continuing trend.
Today’s Conveyancer uses the Freedom of Information Act to obtain this data from Land Registry. Should you wish us to send it to you each month for the next year we offer a distribution service at a nominal cost. Contact us at [email protected]
for more information.