The conveyancing market is consolidating fast, with the big getting bigger and the small getting out, figures from the Land Registry have indicated.
Some 1,300 fewer legal practices made applications to the registry for transfers in 2011 than in the previous 12 months, while the number of deals handled by the biggest firms surged despite an overall fall in transactions.
There were a total of 651,912 applications across 7,677 firms in 2011, down 7% and 14% respectively.
The top 10 practices accounted for 46,291 of these – 28% more than in 2010 – and as a result their overall market share rose from 5.1% to 7.3%.
The breakdown of transfers of value registered by keyholder accounts, obtained by Today’s Conveyancer, shows that MyHomeMove (11,419 applications, up 18%) – whose legal arm Premier Property Lawyers was the ipad manual
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last October – and fellow licensed conveyancers Countrywide Property Lawyers (9,437, up 5.5%) were again clear at the top of the pile.
Third was the highest-ranked solicitors’ firm, Stockport-based O’Neill Patient, with 3,932 applications, a 4.7% increase on 2010.
The rest of the top 10 was made up by City law firm Trowers & Hamlins (3,936), north-west firm Birchall Blackburn (3,609), national firm Shoosmiths (3,170), Stoke firm Grindeys (3,140), Scottish practice Conveyancing Direct (2,693), Barnetts of Southport (2,635) and Martin Tolhurst in Kent (2,560).
By contrast, nearly 2,500 practices made 10 applications or fewer – 698 made just one.
Today’s Conveyancer founder Chris Harris said that with so many firms giving up conveyancing, it is likely that the trend in favour of the largest firms will “continue or accelerate”.
He continued: “It is not inconceivable that in a short space of time the top 10 account holders will have 15% of the market.”
Mr Harris also noted that the top 250 account holders increased their market share from 29% to 34%
A full copy of the 2011 data listing for all firms, plus the data each month for 2012, costs £36 plus VAT. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org