From Legal Futures’ Associate Search Acumen
The conveyancing market suffered some ups and downs in 2017, but the industry roared forward in 2018. The sun is certainly shining right now but how long will it last and how can firms capitalise now?
According to our latest Conveyancing Market Tracker (CMT), which assesses activity across all UK firms, total of conveyancing volumes rose 12.4% quarter on quarter in Q1 2018 – the highest quarterly activity recorded in nearly two years. Additionally, conveyancers enjoyed an active start of the year with the average firm completing 64 transactions during Q1, up five cases on average compared to the same period in 2017.
This was a marked improvement on Q4 2017’s CMT results, which revealed that over the whole of 2017 the market witnessed the first annual drop in transaction volumes in six years.
While the industry will have been buoyed by these latest figures, the concern is that there might be more challenging times on the horizon. We’re already experiencing a residential housing market slowdown, as the number of property transactions have continued to fall in the past months. Also, house prices in London having decreased by 0.7% over the last year according to ONS figures, meaning a price readjustment might be on the horizon.
So how much longer will the good times continue? And how can conveyancers stay on top?
Simply, in order for the conveyancing market to remain buoyant, firms need to adapt to the changing landscape and embrace technological changes in the property market. It means casting aside the old way of doing things, questioning perceived wisdoms and looking at what could be.
Many conveyancing firms are realising that they have to fix the roof while the sun is shining, and are adapting now. We know that forward-thinking conveyancers are starting to place proptech initiatives at the heart of their boardroom discussions, which is key to weathering any storms on the horizon.
Smart conveyancers will stand out from the crowd by considering how they can use big data to speed up their processes and offer clients a digital-forward service. Recent research has found that delays in the property chain and time-consuming issues with the transaction process are top pain points for UK homebuyers and sellers. Any conveyancer that can work towards solving this issue by using technology will certainly shine.
For those who can embrace technology, there is certainly opportunity to capitalise. For example, our CMT found that the 51st to 100th largest firms realised the strongest gains in the market in Q1 2018, with their activity up 16% since Q1 2017 – ‘challenger’ conveyancer firms have been able to step up and win more business.
We’re always restless and know that the good times are when we have to push ourselves further. And we know the best conveyancers feel the same, and they must ensure their processes continue to move forward towards a more digitalised and efficient industry, in order to remain resilient and keep consumers reassured during future uncertain times.
Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director, Search Acumen.