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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Conveyancing transactions drop to lowest in three years

Conveyancing transactions drop to lowest in three years


Mid market firms hit hardest with 45 per cent contraction

The volume of conveyancing transactions has dropped by 14 per cent over the last quarter, according to data published today.

Overall conveyancing volumes fell from 245,738 in Q1 to 210,964 in Q2 this year, while the average monthly caseload per firm was down 13 per cent from 59 to 51 in the three months to June 2017.

It is the lowest recorded average per firm since Q2 2014, when it last dipped to 51 transactions.

Middle market firms '“ those handling between 100 and 200 transactions per month '“ have been hit hard by the stagnation in the market with the number of businesses in this category dropping by a third from 88 to 59.

The middle market contracted by 45 per cent year-on-year, falling from 106 in Q2 of 2016.

The top five firms saw the biggest drop in activity year-on-year, as a result of the unusually high volume of transactions registered in Q2 2016 ahead of changes to stamp duty rules.

However, over the past two years, the data shows that the top five ranking firms have actually experienced minimal change in total quarterly transactions processed, from 12,481 in Q2 2015 to 12,538 in the same period this year.

In contrast, firms ranking outside of the top 1000 witnessed a 14 per cent decline in business from 65,342 in Q2 2016 (20 cases per firm) to 56,462 in Q2 2017 (18 cases per firm).

The Search Acumen Conveyancing Tracker revealed that overall there had been a 1 per cent decrease in conveyancing firms of all categories, from 4,198 to 4,143 - the lowest figure on record since tracking begun in 2011.

Search Acumen managing director Andrew Lloyd highlighted the 'significant challenge' posed by the decline in conveyancing activity.

'With fewer customers to play for, competitive pressures are heightening and conveyancing firms face more of a challenge to attract new business. No-one wants to get left behind in the second half of the year and if growth returns after the summer, the biggest winners will be those firms that are ready to leap out of the starting blocks,' he said.

Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, reporter