Like most other legal services sector, COVID-19 has cast a long shadow over the residential conveyancing sector.
- In 2019, the number of residential property transactions decreased by 1.2% on the previous year but there were signs of some recovery towards the end of the year. The recovery was continuing in the early part of 2020 but by March 2020 numbers were falling. In the first quarter of 2020, transactions decreased by 1% on the same period in 2019 but, in April/May 2020, transactions dropped by 55% on the same period in 2019.
- While the sector is still populated by many small conveyancing firms, there are clear signs of consolidation as the larger volume players accelerate their growth through acquisitions and mergers. Despite the increased market presence of the leading players, no one brand has a significant market share yet. However, the top ten brands have increased their share of Land Registry transactions to over 8% in 2019 from around 7% in 2018.
- COVID-19 is likely to lead to more M&A activity in the sector as many firms will find it difficult to return to previous business levels and maintain cash flows even when the pandemic eases, and if there are still social distancing limits which might impact on the number and nature of physical viewings.
- The publisher estimates that residential housing transactions will decrease by 25% in 2020, compared to 2019, and market revenue is expected to slip by double-digit levels. Market recovery is likely to start towards the middle of 2021.
- In the fifth year of the publisher's Practitioner Survey, optimism amongst conveyancers has dropped noticeably as participants express concerns over the impact of COVID-19 in the next 12 months. The percentage of conveyancers expecting volume growth in the next 12 months has dropped to below 50% for the first time since the survey began in 2016.
This report focuses on the latest annual trends, i.e. market value and volume in 2019, but then adds some data and analysis for the period up to the end of May 2020.
Companies profiled: Simplify/My Home Move; O’Neill Patient Solicitors/Grindeys; Countrywide Property Lawyers; Birchall Blackburn Law; Shoosmiths; Property Legal Services; Taylor Rose TTKW
- Market Size
- Market Structure
- Market Forecasts
- Practitioner Survey
- Two property transfer systems
- Active practices registered with the Land Registry are falling
- M&A activity continues at a steady pace in 2020
- MARKET DEVELOPMENTS AND DRIVERS
- Residential transactions account for over 90% of all property transactions
- England dominates
- The long-term trend in mortgage lending is upwards
- COVID-19 and the housing market
- CLC White Paper considers the conveyancing sector to 2030
- The new RICS Home Survey Standard delayed until December 2020
- Government endorses Law Commission report on electronic signatures
- CMA has concerns over conveyancers’ advice to leasehold clients
- Transparency rules and referral fees
- Revised accounts code and conveyancers can use third-party managed accounts
- Property logbooks to speed up the conveyancing process
- Buying and Selling Property Information Initiative on hold
- Reservation agreements trial also on hold
- The Conveyancing Information Executive
THE KEY PLAYERS
- Consolidation gathers pace
- Market Shares – England and Wales
- Profile of major firms – England and Wales
- Simplify/My Home Move
- O’Neill Patient Solicitors LLP/Grindeys Solicitors Ltd
- Countrywide Property Lawyers Ltd
- Birchall Blackburn Law
- Shoosmiths LLP
- Property Legal Services
- Taylor Rose TTKW
MARKET SIZE, TRENDS & FORECASTS
- The current market
- Some market value increase in 2019
- A significant market decline in 2020 but hope for a recovery later in 2021
CONVEYANCING PRACTITIONERS SURVEY RESULTS
- Survey results
- Percentage of conveyancers experiencing volume growth increases
- Revenue growth also better than previous year
- Significant dip in confidence about future growth following COVID-19
ASSOCIATIONS, REGULATORS & QUALITY SCHEMES