Larger players increasingly dominating conveyancing work may need to make 'wholesale' business changes to continue growing, according to a search company's regular analysis of Land Registry data.
Search Acumen's latest market tracker, published today, shows more than 100,000 fewer transactions in the first nine months of this year compared with the equivalent period in 2016 (731,799 this year compared with 832,684 three years ago) - a fall it puts down to the 'Brexit effect'.
Despite this, conveyancing volumes have jumped by more than 10% between the second and third quarters of this year for the top 10 biggest conveyancers. The number of firms processing fewer than 50 transactions a month has fallen by 6% over the past three years while the top 1,000 players now control a record 75.6% of transaction activity.
Andy Sommerville, Search Acumen director, comments that the drop in transactions since 2016 is an indicator of the 'Brexit effect on an already cooling property market'. However, he says a tricky market had made clear how effectively large conveyancing firms are now able to win and retain business while 'the days of the small, occasional conveyancer are over'.
'But big firms have a physical limit to how much more market share they can gain. There’s only so many conveyancers they can hire to execute so many transactions in a month. We’re going to soon reach an inflection point where the top firms can’t grow without wholesale changes to how they do business,' Sommerville said.
To get bigger, larger firms need to think about 'combining human and digital insights to a greater extent,' Sommerville suggested. 'They need to assess how many transactions they can currently process and investigate what they could be doing if they invested in better technology. Too many firms we speak to see technology as a "nice to have". But it’s more than that now - technology investment is the key to getting ahead in a competitive climate.'