Active conveyancing firms rise for the first time in five years

Active conveyancing firms rise for the first time in five years

The total number of conveyancing firms operating in the market has risen for the first time in five years.

Search Acumen’s Conveyancing Market Tracker revealed that during 2016, the number of conveyancing firms rose by 4% to 5,572.

Over the past five years, the number of conveyancing firms has declined and despite 2016’s rise, it was found that there had been a 28% drop in the number of firms over the past 10 years.

However, Search Acumen found that the market had completed the highest number of conveyancing volumes in 2016 since the pre-financial crisis peak in 2007.

This increase was found to have been driven by firms ranked 11th to 20th in the market, who saw the highest year-on-year increase in activity (11%) and completed 3,782 transactions on average during 2016.

Mark Riddick, chairman of Search Acumen, said 2016 had been a testing year for the conveyancer as it was yet again exposed to a new wave of uncertainty.

“First came the stamp duty land tax reform, propelling activity to record levels ahead of April to beat the tax hike and then [came] the EU referendum, presenting a threat on the opposite side of the scale.

“The industry has been tried and tested and our tracker – looking at the year in retrospect – shows that we have remained resilient.

“The first year-on-year rise in total conveyancing firms since 2011 is an interesting development during a time of economic uncertainty, and can be commended by businesses in all sectors.”

Despite the strong year in terms of conveyancing volumes, Search Acumen found competition in the market remained stagnant with firms ranked in the top 1,000 retaining their 71% market share for a second successive year.

However, Mark felt that the shrinking volume of active firms was not as worrying as it sounded.

“The number of firms operating in the market might have decreased by more than a quarter over the past decade, but conveyancing volumes are hitting new highs since the financial crisis of 2008.

“Conveyancers are, therefore, becoming more productive and are adapting to the challenges in the market to meet the increasing demand for property.”

Looking at the next 12 months, Mark felt that there was no way to predict which path the UK economy would take.

“However, we can position ourselves to continue our resilience and improve the efficiency of the property market.

“As we look ahead, conveyancers must expect the unexpected – embracing technology and being savvy to the continuing threats of cybercrime in the industry will help protect our firms, employees and customers during more uncertain times.”

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