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Conveyancer numbers hit record low as transactions collapse

  • 21/02/2020
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Conveyancer numbers hit record low as transactions collapse
The number of active conveyancing firms dropped to a record low in the final three months of 2019, according to data from Search Acumen.


Just 3,920 firms were active during the period, down five per cent over the last year as a stagnant property market continued to take its toll.

It continued a long downward trend in the number of conveyancing firms conducting cases since 2011.

The Search Acumen Conveyancing Market Tracker shows that quarterly transactions dropped to the lowest level of 2019 at 226,444, and the lowest since the 210,964 in Q2 2017.

The Q4 2019 figure was down eight per cent on the 246,816 in Q3 and a 15 per cent fall on the 267,438 a year earlier.

Perhaps most notably, the largest conveyancing firms suffered the most.

The top 200 firms witnessed their most challenging quarter of the year with a 13 per cent drop in activity on Q3, while the top 1,000 firms faced a similar 14 per cent drop in cases handled.


Delays and surge

Search Acumen noted that the flagging industry data could be largely attributed to political indecision and the moveable feast that was the Brexit deadlines in Q4.

“This negatively impacted homebuyers and property investors alike, by dampening their appetite and delaying purchasing decisions, before post-election clarity and stability emerged at the very end of the year,” it said.

“The trend left quarterly transaction volumes in Q4 at their lowest since Q2 2017 – another period of heightened political uncertainty which saw the UK triggering Article 50 in March 2017, followed by the calling of the previous general election.”

Search Acumen director Andy Sommerville added that the industry was pleased to get through to the end of 2019.

“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,” he said.

“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.”


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