The number of active conveyancing firms in England and Wales fell to a record low of 3,920 in the last quarter of 2019, new figures reveal. According to the Q4 2019 edition of the Conveyancing Market Tracker compiled by property data business Search Acumen, this is a a 5% drop on to the same period in 2018. This is the second time since 2011 that the number of active firms has dropped below 4,000 – the first was at the beginning of 2019.
The figures also show a slump in the number of transactions, which fell by 8% from the previous quarter to 226,444. This is 15% down on the same period in 2018. Search Acumen blamed political and economic uncertainty affecting homebuyers and property investors alike.
Data on market share reveals that the top 1,000 firms’ hold on conveyancing activity slipped by five percentage points quarterly (71% vs. 76%), is the lowest share since Q3 2012 (70%). The remaining firms seized almost 30% market share (29%), which is their biggest contribution of any quarter during 2019 and a five percentage point increase from 24% in Q3 2018. The number of firms carrying out between one and five transactions a month also rose, reflecting a quieter end to the year than normal.
Only 64 firms processed 101-200 transactions a month on average during Q4, down from 94 firms in Q3 2019.
Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said: 'The curtain call for 2019 couldn’t come soon enough for a conveyancing market which was rocked by political peaks and troughs, prompting several indicators to annual or even record lows in Q4. 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.'