The housing market shows no signs of crashing as conveyancers were kept surprisingly busy at the start of the year, according to an analysis of official figures published today.
The latest market tracker by search company Search Acumen, which analyses Land Registry data to examine competitive pressures, counts 271,546 transaction volumes between January and March - the highest recorded since 2016, when 286,485 were recorded between April and June. Firms processed, on average, 64 transactions at the start of the year, up 8% from the 59 in the same period last year and the busiest quarter since July-September 2016.
Business has declined 10% since 2014 for firms that handle between five and 10 cases a month. However, firms juggling between 200 and 500 cases a month have seen business increase by 50% over the last four years.
The top 1,000 firms covered three-quarters of the market; the top five handled 6%.
Andrew Lloyd, Search Acumen's managing director, said he was glad to see conveyancers bounce back from a disappointing end to 2017. Conveyancing volumes, both residential and commercial, shrunk by 12% last year - from 1,077,959 in 2016 to 952,966 in 2017.
Lloyd said 2017 was about the continued rise of 'challengers' - those operating just below the biggest conveyancers. 'It is perhaps the fact that smaller firms can be more nimble to market movements and more quickly embrace technology that has allowed them to take advantage of increasing transactions. The larger firms need to ensure they are looking beyond the next quarter and considering what's next for conveyancing to remain the top of the pack,' he added.
However, 2018 will still be challenging, Lloyd warned. 'We all look to the government to find ways to free up the housing market and create more stock, but it’s down to us to ensure the conveyancing market effectively adapts to the future landscape of property transactions,' he said.