Fears that Brexit could hurt the housing market could be 'premature', as analysis of official figures published today shows a conveyancing peak since the UK voted three years ago to leave the EU.
The latest market tracker by Search Acumen, which analyses Land Registry data to examine competitive pressures, shows that conveyancers dealt with 267,438 cases between October and December 2018, compared to 248,023 in the previous three months.
Average monthly activity for the top 200 conveyancing firms by volume jumped by 11% from the third quarter of 2018 to the fourth.
'Challenger' firms, which handle between 100-200 transactions a month, enjoyed the largest year-on-year increase: processing 27% more transactions between October and December compared to the previous year.
The number of firms handling more than 100 transactions a month has grown by 70% in five years, increasing from 83 firms in 2013 to 141 at the end of last year. Meanwhile the number of firms handling no more than 25 transactions a month has fallen by 10%, from 3,623 in 2013 to 3,259 now.
The overall number of conveyancing firms in England and Wales is at its second lowest level since records began.
Andrew Lloyd, Search Acumen's managing director, said: 'While recent headlines continue to cast doubt over the short-term prospects of the property market, it's great to see that conveyancers in England and Wales have been able to find more business regardless and enjoyed a busy 2018. Firms with high growth aspirations have taken full advantage of the increasing activity, ignoring any uncertainties around Brexit and forging ahead to build their market position.'
Last year, how the political and economic landscape would affect transaction volumes was 'anyone's guess', Lloyd said. 'That's still very much the case as a concrete Brexit solution is yet to emerge from Westminster. But in the meantime, fears of a weaker [fourth quarter] haven't materialised, so to assume that 2019 will bring a Brexit downturn may be equally premature.'