Vale & West Chartered Accountants Blog

Small conveyancing firms struggle to retain market share, suggests report

The total number of conveyancing firms has fallen to an all-time low as large, nationwide firms continue to dominate the market, a study has revealed.

Search Acumen, which published the report, suggests that smaller firms are dropping out at a record rate, based on recent Land Registry data.

According to the figures, some 700 conveyancing firms folded in the last seven years, meaning the number of active firms in England and Wales is at an all-time low since records began in 2011.

The authors suggest that the decline is a result of an aggressive merger and acquisition (M&A) strategy carried out by larger firms.

In total, the number of firms handling up to 25 cases a month has fallen by over 10 per cent over the past five years, from 3,662 to 3,278. Over the same period, the number of firms handling over 50 cases a month has risen by 31 per cent, from 269 to 353.

While the actual number of property transactions fell by three per cent over the recorded period, the report concludes that “top firms” are still benefiting from an increasing market share.

Commenting on the report, Andrew Lloyd, Search Acumen’s managing director, said: “Over much of this decade, we have witnessed a clear consolidation of conveyancing business at the top end of the market.

“Technology has been a big driver in allowing smarter firms to steal a march on their rivals, which in turn means that the smaller, local conveyancers have struggled as market consolidation bites. They have seen their margins squeezed, local business networks shrink and opportunities to find new business diminished.”

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