That’s why confidence indices in other sectors or views on anticipated workflows read across to other practitioners, whether advisers, distributors, lenders or estate agents.
Business passes between us and therefore it is possible to get an idea of how we’re all progressing based on such sentiment.
Of course, there can be a noticeable difference in business confidence determined by where you come in the customer journey and what part of the market you’re involved in.
Agents, for example, have only the current limited pool of the purchase market to draw from while advisers get to wade into the whole pool.
If advisers are clued up and aware of all business opportunities, then it’s not only the purchase and remortgage market. It’s also in areas such as protection, general insurance and conveyancing where we’re seeing an increase in adviser-led recommendations, particularly through established broker-facing portals.
Conveyancer thumbs up
Conveyancers, of course, come at the tail end of this and get to review how the market is playing across a number of product areas.
While some stick to their knitting in mainstream residential, others have forged specialisms in sectors such as equity release or buy-to-let (BTL). The latter sector has become increasingly specialist, particularly with regard to limited company, portfolio and homes in multiple occupancy activity.
So, how do those at the tail end feel about their own place in the sector and how their workflow might move in the next year?
Well, it’s good news. According to the latest Annual Regulatory Return from firms regulated by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), 45 per cent believe their workload will increase in the next year, while 42 per cent said it’s likely to say the same. Only 13 per cent feel it might contract.
Given the ongoing political uncertainty, and how this might land in terms of the UK economy, that appears to be a strong thumbs-up — both in how they view the overall market and what might be coming down the pipes.
Of perhaps more interest to advisers is the source of conveyancers’ work. The CLC data shows 37 per cent depend on personal recommendations; a quarter rely on referrals from agents; 13 per cent win business direct; website and telephone enquiries are each a source for seven per cent; a further seven per cent comes through referrals from other source such as lenders; two per cent is from comparison websites; and finally two per cent from the category marked ‘other’.
What the survey does not show is the number coming through advisers. I suspect this is a growing amount, given that advisers are now gearing up to make the conveyancing recommendation.
Confidence in new business
The further good news here is that conveyancers do not, in any great number, anticipate a major fallback in activity. If anything, they are planning for more business. Advisers can therefore feel confident in their position and the amount of new business coming down the tracks.
Many in the market believe there is a well of pent up activity waiting to be drawn from, when (if?) we get the political certainty we all crave.
Understandably, there is a belief that many individuals are waiting out the current period until they know what our situation with the European Union will be and when we might actually leave.
We know there was a significant upturn in the market in March after the Brexit deadline had passed so we might expect to see a similar increase in activity following the 31 October deadline.
The Conveyancing Association hopes this is the case. It has repeatedly called on government to engineer a housing market that functions efficiently and delivers a swifter, more certain and transparent experience for customers.
The market certainly needs a boost. The traditional statistic reads that if you wanted to get an offer for your house by Christmas, you’d have had to have put it on the market on the 22 October. That being the case, given the current delays to the home moving process you still wouldn’t be ready to move until 5 May 2020. I don’t think any of us believe that’s acceptable.
Perhaps if we get certainty politically, and a government willing to adopt the Home Buying and Selling Group’s proposals to improve the home moving process, the market will become more positive for all of us.