Just 200 conveyancing firms control over 39 per cent of the market in England and Wales, wielding significant power over customers, agents and others in the moving chain.
Figures from Search Acumen show that the number of active conveyancing firms in England and Wales has dropped below 4,000 for the first time. The precise figure - 3,961 firms - is some nine per cent lower than in 2014.
And in addition to the top 200 conveyancing firms controlling 39 per cent of the market, the top 1,000 control over three quarters of the market.
Search Acumen says: “While there has been consolidation at the top end of the market and the volume of transactions has increased, the top five conveyancers’ overall slice of the pie has decreased collectively from 8.2 per cent five years ago to 5.5 per cent now. Those firms ranked 11th to 200th now account for 31.2 per cent of the market, up from 27.6 per cent in Q1 2014.”
The market snapshot reveals that low-volume firms or ‘occasional conveyancers’ have continued to be hit hardest as the number of firms processing between one and five transactions a month was down almost nine per cent in just one quarter.
Total conveyancing transaction volumes were down four per cent on a quarterly basis, as the market processed 255,989 cases in Q1 2019 compared to 267,438 in Q4 2018.
The full 12 months drop is six per cent.
“Our analysis shows that average number of cases conveyancing firms dealt with in Q1 2019 still remains relatively healthy even in the face of market headwinds. However, going forward we expect a prevailing sense of uncertainty until the ongoing political fog lifts across the UK” explains Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen.
“There may be challenging times ahead if firms want to grow beyond their current level of business, and it will be even more critical that companies take the reins and prepare now if they are to weather any future storms.”