The number of active conveyancing firms handling property transactions in England and Wales has fallen to an eight year low.
A market monitor set up by Search Acumen suggests there’s been a consolidation of activity at the top of the market as bigger conveyancers take more business at the expense of smaller firms.
Analysing HM Land Registry data Search Acumen says that the total number of conveyancing firms active in the market dropped one per cent in just three months - July, August and September - from 4,144 to 4,100.
Over the 12 month period to the start of October the fall has been two per cent.
Search Acumen says: “This continues a trend that has played out since Q3 2011 [since when] the number of conveyancing firms active in the market has dropped by 15 per cent with 700 firms disappearing as a result of mergers, acquisitions, periods of dormancy or exiting the market altogether.”
It says smaller conveyancers have been the greatest victim of market consolidation as over the last five years the number of firms handling up to 25 transactions a month has fallen by 10 per cent.
At the same time, larger players in the market – those handling more than 50 transactions per month – have increased by 31 per cent over the same period.
Overall, as continuing economic and political uncertainty deter buyers, there’s been a three per cent decline in transactions involving conveyancers.
“But over the last five years dwindling numbers of conveyancers have had to handle more cases, with transactions up 14 per cent since Q3 2013” says Search Acumen.