Tighter competition for less work may force firms that occasionally dip their feet into conveyancing waters to come out of the market, new research suggests.
Search company Search Acumen's latest market tracker findings show that total volumes between April and June are down 14% from the first quarter of the year - from 245,738 to 210,964. Search Acumen says this is the fewest cases in a single quarter since mid-2013.
Throughout the second quarter, the average monthly caseload per firm dropped by 13%, from 59 in the first quarter to 51 cases between April and June. This is the lowest quarterly figure since 2014.
The average number of firms active between April and June dropped 1%, from 4,198 at the start of the year to 4,143. This is the lowest figure on record since tracking began in 2011.
However, the top-five firms in terms of volume 'have been the most insulated from the lull in the UK property market, while occasional conveyancers appear to be suffering the most', Search Acumen says.
Over the past two years, the top-five have experienced minimal change in the number of total quarterly transactions processed: from 12,481 in the second quarter of 2015 to 12,538 in the same period this year. Those outside the top 1,000 have experienced a 14% decline in business: from 65,342 in the second quarter of 2016 to 56,462 in the same period this year.
Andrew Lloyd, Search Acumen managing director, said the conveyancing dip 'poses a significant challenge for conveyancing firms that want to survive and grow'.
He added: 'Last time the market was this quiet for conveyancers, we saw major interventions through Help to Buy support for first-time buyers. Meanwhile, with fewer customers to play for, competitive pressures are heightening and conveyancing firms face more of a challenge to attract new business.'