Today’s Conveyancer Sentiment Survey: Market Improving Slowly

The majority of conveyancing firms surveyed by Today’s Conveyancer last week believe the market has shrunk to below 50 per cent of what it was at this time last year.

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In terms of instructions, a third of respondents were receiving between 1-10 per cent of last year’s levels. Overwhelmingly, 90 per cent were working below 60 per cent of 2019’s instruction levels.

One of our respondent’s claimed:

“didn’t experience much decrease in new instructions even before restrictions were lifted for the property market. People were still even reserving new build properties without being able to go to the site.”

This sentiment was very similar with the number of exchanges currently taking place. Over 30 per cent are exchanging around 10 per cent of last year. Less than10 per cent of respondents were exchanging at 60 per cent of last year.

One respondent claimed the media and rival firm marketing releases are clouding the way exchanges are viewed at present, commenting:

“Too much hot air being soured by self styled experts keen to big up the market for their own selfish reasons. As a firm we are not as policy exchanging files for clients as we believe that is best advice for clients. I am very concerned at advice which may have been given to people by other firms in our area publicising themselves as operating business as usual and some articles I have read and conduct I have seen I believe brings the profession into disrepute.”

The majority (30 per cent) of those completing in the current climate are working at around 30 per cent of 2019’s figures. Encouragingly, 10 per cent were completing at 80 per cent of the levels they were achieving last year.

A lot of law firm employees were still on furlough leave last week. A fifth of conveyancing departments still have between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of their employees on furlough.

From the responses, 80 per cent of all conveyancing departments have at least some staff still on furlough leave and more than 20 per cent of respondents made more redundancies last week compared with the week previous.

One respondent claimed:

“With relaxation of rules in England activity is picking up. We await the rules to be relaxed in Wales. We are not seeing a lot of people withdrawing from transactions and most are sticking with the properties they agreed to purchase before lock down. Some buyers are trying to reduce offers but most are being refused and then they are proceeding at previous price agreed or modest reduction. Hopefully the backlog with valuations can be cleared relatively quickly. On the whole solicitors and conveyancers have still managed to move matters on and keep things moving. Some of the lenders have been extremely difficult to deal with and response times from lenders is hampering our work on a lot of cases. Land registry have come to a standstill during covid however this week has seen a slight improvement with applications beginning to be processed again. Some positive media headlines from the media would assist rather than a prediction of doom and gloom!”

Today's Conveyancer