Growth among the top 1,000 conveyancing firms outperformed the rest of the market for the first time this year during Q3 2015, according to the latest edition of the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen, the search provider.
The Tracker – which uses Land Registry data to examine competitive pressures in the conveyancing market – shows the leading 1,000 firms benefitted from a surge of activity in Q3, having borne the brunt of a slower start to 2015. Their average transactions grew 20% from Q2 to Q3, compared to 15% growth across the remaining firms in the market.
This marks the first time in 2015 where business volumes have grown faster from one quarter to the next among the top 1,000 than the rest of the market. The average top 1,000 firm experienced a -16% slowdown from Q4 2014 to Q1 2015, compared with -13% across the remaining firms.
The same occurred in Q2 2015 when quarterly transactions were down -4% for the top 1,000 compared with -2% for the rest of the market.
Graph 1: Quarterly change in average transactions during 2015
Trends within the top 1,000 ranking conveyancers
Within the top 1,000, the top five firms recorded the greatest quarterly growth in activity from Q2 to Q3 (26% vs. 18% across all firms). Annually, the top five again lead the way with 9% growth from Q3 2014 to Q3 2015, compared with a 4% average across all firms.
However, longer-term comparisons show it is those firms ranked 51st to 100th which have recorded the greatest growth in business volumes (88%) since Q3 2011, contrasting with an average of 80% across all firms.
Search Acumen’s analysis also shows the top 1,000 ranking conveyancers accounted for 72% of transactions between them in Q3 2015, five percentage points higher than the 67% market share they held four years ago in Q3 2011.
Comparing the total size of the market, Q3 proved the busiest quarter of 2015 to date with transactions reaching 273,322, up from 230,430 in Q2.
Graph 2: Combined Q3 conveyancing market share from 2011 to 2015
Mark Riddick, chairman of Search Acumen, said:
“The conveyancing market returned to life with a vengeance in the third quarter of 2015: not only recording the highest quarterly volumes this year, but also peak third-quarter figures since the market awoke from its post-recession slump.
“It’s been the trailblazing top 1,000 that have reaped the greatest rewards from a busier property market, and are not far from carrying out three in every four residential transactions between them. All the same, the higher reaches of the conveyancing league table are a diverse space, occupied by firms of many shapes and sizes.
“Our analysis suggests it is the top five ranking spots which have seen business volumes grow the most over the last year, but those ranked in 51st to 100th position have seen the biggest uplift over the last four years.
“After a slower start to 2015, stronger business volumes in Q3 will give conveyancers greater hope of hitting their business targets by the year end. To survive in such a competitive environment, however, it is vital that firms ensure their systems and processes are honed to deliver the best possible service to keep up the pace and attract new business.”