However, the data analysis by Search Acumen does not include remortgage business, which has been a key area of concern to the mortgage market during the last 12 months, particularly regarding free legal services.
Search Acumen’s Conveyancing Market Tracker, which uses HM Land Registry data, revealed the first fall in transaction volumes in six years.
However, it noted that recent consolidation within the market had been maintained as big firms continued to hold on to their market share.
Search Acumen found the number of active firms remained steady, but this figure has fallen 28% since 2007.
The top 1,000 firms held 72% of the market, up by one percentage point from 2016 while the top five maintained their 6% market share.
In percentage terms, the top five firms have seen their market share double since 2007 (3%), while those outside the top 1000 have experienced a drop from 43% to 28%.
Throughout the year, the top five firms on transaction volumes completed 11,010 transactions on average, dropping by 9% year-on-year from 12,056.
Feeling the impact
Search Acumen managing director Andrew Lloyd noted that conveyancers were feeling the impact of a housing sector in need of a jumpstart.
“At the beginning of the year, the Prime Minister vowed that UK housing was to be an area of absolute focus for the current government, and policies like the abolishment of SDLT for first-time buyers will undoubtedly reduce the chasm between young market hopefuls and established homeowners,” he said.
“However, housebuilding activity fell last month for the first time since the EU referendum. The property industry continues to be frustrated with the inertia it finds itself in, fuelled by bureaucracy, politicking and set-backs.”
Lloyd also warned that the next twelve months will be full of challenges for conveyancers and added that the sector needed to embrace efficiency and technology.