Consolidation in the conveyancing market, coupled with the modest housebuilding recovery, has created a 62% rise in new homes business for the average conveyancing firm over the last four years, according to new analysis by Search Acumen, the search provider.
Search Acumen’s Conveyancing Market Tracker – which uses Land Registry data to examine competitive pressures in the conveyancing market – suggests the number of active firms registering property transactions has fallen by 29% in the last four years from over 7,500 in 2011 to fewer than 5,400 in 2015.
At the same time, official housebuilding data shows the volume of new dwellings completed across England and Wales by private builders, housing associations and local authorities has risen by 15% in the last four years.
Completions of new build homes reached 130,660 in the 2014-15 financial year, up by 17,280 from 113,380 during 2010-11.
These trends leave the ‘average’ conveyancing firm with a potential uplift of 62% in new homes business with 24 new homes a year now being completed for every active conveyancing firm, up from 15 four years ago.
The increase in new homes business looks set to continue with Government data showing 253,000 new homes were given planning approval during 2015, up by 5% from 2014. This is equivalent to 47 planning approvals for every active conveyancing firm.
To help conveyancers manage increasing volumes of new build work, Search Acumen has engineered its online portal to use an identical ordering process for searches on new homes as on other properties, with no requirement to submit extra forms, plans or other details.
Andrew Lloyd, managing director of Search Acumen, comments:
“The UK has been waiting a long time for a pickup in house building, but any increase in new homes activity runs the risk of creating an administrative headache for conveyancers.
“Too often, they are confronted with extra demands on their time to find and submit additional paperwork when ordering searches. It’s frustrating even for firms who dabble in the new homes market, let alone those specialists who handle the biggest volumes of new build work.
“Thankfully, things can be made a lot simpler by applying some thought and streamlining the online ordering process. As part of our efforts to deliver essential property and land data to conveyancers, we are also committed to only asking for essential data from them to begin with.
“It means users can quickly place their order and get on with their day, knowing their search data will be delivered with a minimum of fuss.
“Having the best systems in place is a must-have for anyone seeking to make the most of new business opportunities as the market recovers.”
Commenting on new build searches, Aashim Dhand, managing director of PLS Solicitors, says:
“Our practice has used Search Acumen for several years, after having switched from another provider. Over the last few years, they have provided an extremely efficient service. We have a close personal relationship with them.
“They always revert back to emails and calls, and attempt to assist us wherever possible to ensure the service provided to our clients is efficient and quick.
“When working in the new build industry we are under strict 28 day time scales, and Search Acumen really push the return of the searches back for us so we can manage our developer clients’ expectations.
“They always provide us with search expectancy dates and generally the search results are sent back quicker than the expected dates. We have and would highly recommend them to our fellow professionals.”
Bevin Woby, business development manager of Direction Law, comments:
“What was a time consuming process is now fast and efficient as the Search Acumen team just get things dealt with. It has freed up our resource to concentrate on more significant matters.”