Recent data study reveals realities of property log-jam

A study into residential conveyancing transaction data has found the gap between new property instructions and completions is continuing to grow, creating further concerns for an already pressurised market as the Stamp Duty holiday deadline in March 2021 approaches.

Ochresoft, the legal workflow software specialist for property and private client lawyers, has revealed that the percentage of transaction completions versus instructions per month – which shows the trend in size of pipeline and directly impacts the ability for lawyers to process their workloads – has dramatically decreased when comparing September, October and November in 2020 versus 2019.

In a stable market, conversion rates are typically around 70-75%, with September 2019 reporting a rate of 69%, October 2019 64% and November 2019 up to 83%. By contrast, 2020 data records September at a conversion rate at just 42%, October rising to 58% and November currently sitting at 51% (mid-month), illustrating the challenge law firms face in processing the recent surge in conveyancing instructions.

In addition, when comparing like-for-like monthly data, September saw instructions rise by 50%, while completions fell by 10%. In October, instruction numbers jumped up by a further 27% compared to the same month last year, while completions fell back again – this time by 9%.

Rob Gurney, Managing Director of Ochresoft said: 

“Whilst new case volumes in November appear to be returning to more anticipated levels, the pressure of what has gone before will still be being felt for a considerable time to come and will continue to impact completion times.

“These figures speak for themselves and illustrate the extent of the problem facing the residential property industry, and how things are seemingly deteriorating further each month. The data running through our case management systems over the last few months show that law firms across England & Wales remain inundated with record volumes which are not decreasing and the log-jam is therefore getting potentially more unmanageable the closer we get to the end of the Stamp Duty holiday at the end of March 2021.

“With the industry still some way from a widespread adoption of automated legal processing, there is no obvious short-term solution to this situation. However, those firms able to combine first-class customer service whilst deploying and following efficient case management workflows will surely be first to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

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