Search Acumen: Conveyancing drops 8% in Q4 2019
The number of conveyancing transactions dropped by 8% in Q4 2019, according to Search Acumen.
The decline brought the total number of conveyancing transactions down to 226,444, its lowest figure since Q2 2017.
Comparing between Q4 2019 and Q4 2018, the total number of transactions dropped by 15%.
Furthermore the number of active firms dropped by 5% over the last 12 months, declining to 3,920.
Since Search Acumen began recording this data, the number of active firms has only dipped below 4,000 twice.
The top 1,000 conveyancers saw their total number of transactions decline 14% on a quarterly basis to 161,120.
Meanwhile ‘occasional conveyancers’, or firms who complete one to five transactions per month, saw a 3% rise over the same time frame.
The number of conveyancing firms which completed 101 to 200 transactions per month, on average in the final quarter of 2019, dropped from 94 in Q3 to 64 last quarter.
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said: “The curtain call for 2019 couldn’t come soon enough for a conveyancing market, which was rocked by political peaks and troughs, prompting several indicators to annual or even record lows in Q4.
“What has come as a surprise is the comeback of smaller conveyancers which gives us hope that the market is not broken from top to bottom but remains in need of transformation.
“Given the improved political climate at the very end of 2019, the next challenge for firms will be to ride the likely surge in demand as the backlog of transactions that were put on hold start to be unleashed as consumer and business confidence returns.
“Despite the promise of increased technology, the user experience often remains poor – for conveyancers and solicitors, as well as their clients – and continues to lag behind the advances seen in other sectors.
“In many cases, the technology itself is here, and for the decade ahead to truly deliver on the promise of industry change.”