The Q3 2019 edition of the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen, published in November, shows more than 100,000 fewer transactions in the first nine months of 2019 compared with the equivalent period in 2016 (731,799 in 2019 compared with 832,684 in 2016) – a fall it puts down to Brexit and political uncertainties.
However, despite the overall reduction in numbers, conveyancing volumes have increased by more than 10% between the second and third quarters of this year for the top 10 biggest conveyancers. The number of firms processing fewer than 50 transactions a month has fallen by 6% over the past three years while the top 1,000 players now control 75.6% of transaction activity. In addition, reduced market activity is causing closures and consolidation in the conveyancing sector. The number of conveyancing firms working in the sector has fallen to 4,024, its lowest levels since the recovering market in 2011.
Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen, comments: “Every passing quarter of 2019 has brought more political headwinds to the property market due to Brexit related uncertainty. One hundred thousand fewer transactions so far this year compared to 2016 is an indicator of the ‘Brexit effect’ on an already cooling property market. It’s been a tough three years for the industry, but that said, a tricky market has made it clear how effectively large conveyancing firms are now able to win and retain business. But big firms have a physical limit to how much more market share they can gain. There’s only so many conveyancers they can hire to execute so many transactions in a month. We’re going to soon reach an inflection point where the top firms can’t grow without wholesale changes to how they do business. To keep growing, bigger firms need to start to think about combining human and digital insights to a greater extent. They need to assess how many transactions they can currently process and investigate what they could be doing if they invested in better technology. Too many firms we speak to see technology as a ‘nice to have’. But it’s more than that now – technology investment is the key to getting ahead in a competitive climate. The smart firms are gearing up for more business in the coming quarters because as our recent trackers have proved, the days of the small occasional conveyancer are over. So regardless of market movements, there will be more opportunity out there for bigger conveyancers – the winners will be able to solve how to most effectively handle more volume without over-burdening their conveyancers.”
The latest consumer research findings from IRN Research suggests that whilst transactions are falling, it seems as though consumers are still looking for traditional law firms and solicitors as they continue to be the preferred choice for conveyancing advice and experience.
The latest case management software does much to control, automate, and drive efficiency into the conveyancing process, helping firms to thrive in an increasingly competitive market. Redbrick Solutions Case Management can save time by automating much of the process, from producing quotes, to completing ID checks, Land Registry submissions and ordering searches to producing completion statements. The online portal allows the conveyancer to upload documents for the client to complete and sign electronically, providing a better service for the client and a more efficient transaction for all concerned. Text and Email messages can be pre-programmed into your workflow so that they are sent automatically at key milestones, keeping your clients up to date, improving client satisfaction by demonstrating how pro-active and efficient you are and keeping your matters on track.