Conveyancing activity drops by 10%
Quarterly conveyancing volumes have dropped to its lowest levels since 2017 according to the Q2 2019 Conveyancing Marketing Tracker from Search Acumen.
Total cases in Q2 reached 228,994, a quarterly decrease of 10%.
The tracker found that the top 1,000 conveyancing firms in the market experienced a 10% drop in cases, collectively completing 20,000 fewer transactions compared to Q1 2019.
The number of active conveyancing firms in England and Wales are almost at the lowest numbers on record, dropping to under 4,000 firms for the first time earlier this year.
Despite these declines, the data shows that the top 200 conveyancing firms control more of the market than ever before.
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said: “Our latest assessment of conveyancing activity has found that Brexit has truly begun to bite for the sector, even before it has truly arrived.
“After three years of increasing uncertainty, we’re finally seeing the result of the ‘wait and see’ approach that many homeowners and prospective buyers in England and Wales are taking while Westminster continues to wrangle over the nature of our exit from Europe.
“This Brexit-fuelled market stasis is exacerbating the consolidation trend that has been underway over the last few years.
“Smaller conveyancing firms who were already struggling to compete are now facing tougher conditions, while those who have been able to gain a larger foothold are now taking a bigger slice of activity than ever before.
“But it’s not all doom and gloom. Looking at the figures more closely, we can see that average monthly transactions are still healthier than the pre-referendum.
“Conveyancing firms that have established themselves in the strong middle are doing more with less and continuing to thrive in the midst of a challenging market.
“We talk to many law firms on a daily basis about the challenge of doing more with less.
“They are always excited by the prospects of advancing technology to increase efficiencies and offer clients more – particularly in niche or specialist areas such as the new build sector.
“But the jump from theory to practice is still too much for many firms and practitioners, who continue to work just as hard as they have for decades without the benefit of better outputs.
“We don’t expect an improving market until Brexit is resolved, so the time is now for firms to make the leap.
“To increase market share and take advantage of changing market dynamics, conveyancers must think differently and be ready to embrace new ways of doing business.”