The number of conveyancers in England and Wales has fallen by 16 per cent over the past eight years
The number of active conveyancing firms in England and Wales has fallen by 16 per cent over the past eight years with the biggest 1,000 firms now controlling three-quarters of the market.
Analysis of the sector by Search Acumen shows that there are now fewer than 4,000 firms in the market – the lowest figure since the company began collecting the data in 2011.
Back then there were more than 4,731 conveyancers, but Search Acumen’s latest data for the first three months of 2019 shows there are now just 3,961 active firms.
The top 200 conveyancers have a 39 per cent market share, while the biggest 1,000 firms control three-quarters of the market, the Conveyancing Market Tracker shows.
The data suggests that more than 200 firms with the low volumes of transactions, such as solicitors that only occasionally carry out conveyancing business, have been driven out of the market.
The number of firms processing fewer than 50 transactions a month has also fallen 10 per cent over the same period.
Total conveyancing transaction volumes were down 6 per cent to 255,989 in Q1 compared to the same time last year.
Compared to the last quarter of 2018, volumes were down by 4 per cent.
Search Acumen director Andy Sommerville says the consolidation of the market continues in conveyancing.
Sommerville says that however, while larger firms are processing a higher share of activity, it would be a mistake for them to rest on their laurels.
He said that the beginning of 2019 has marked a dampening of overall current activity.
He said that as smaller firms that tend to operate on a more local scale are increasingly squeezed out of the market, there is risk of a consequent fallout of their specialist knowledge. It is here that technology can play a crucial role.
Continued efforts by the Government to digitise property and land data – coupled with innovative and efficient ways to add to and maximize the growing pool of information – mean that conveyancers and lawyers can benefit from better insights at their fingertips, he added.
But despite the apparently gloomy data, Sommerville says that the market remains “relatively healthy in the face of headwinds” although he predicts that the ongoing political uncertainty around Brexit will continue to affect business.