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NEWS Conveyancing activity in UK saw ups and downs in second quarter of 2016

Conveyancing activity in the UK residential housing market increased in the second quarter of 2016 with changes to stamp duty pushing up transactions by 24% year on year, the latest data shows.

Sales jumped from 230,430 to 286,425 as completions were registered following the rush to beat the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) changes for buy to let properties and second homes in April 2016, according to the latest edition of the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen, the search provider.

Completions recorded in the second quarter of 2016 were some 30% higher than two years ago and 59% higher than three years previously and compared with the first quarter of 2016 the three months preceding the SDLT reform there was a rise of 4% as conveyancers dealt with the reverberations across the housing market and the rush of transactions were logged as completed by Land Registry.

The tracker report, which uses Land Registry data to examine competitive pressures in the conveyancing market, shows the top five firms led the way in terms of growth compared to the rest of the market, with completed activity rising 17% over the quarter and 41% over the year to reach an average of 3,523 transactions per firm over the three month period.

However, outside the top five, the most significant quarterly growth was seen among those firms ranked 501 or lower. In the second quarter their average volume of transactions rose by 5% from the previous quarter. Year on year, those firms ranked 501 to 1,000 experienced 23% growth while those outside the top 1,000 recorded 19% growth.

A combination of the SDLT aftershock and pre-Brexit activity meant that conveyancers experienced a rollercoaster ride from month to month during the second quarter. April saw the largest number of businesses responsible for completed transactions at Land Registry in any month since September 2014. The total of 4,374 was 4% higher than a year earlier, when 4,201 firms were active, and suggests the stamp duty rush brought more occasional players back to the market.

Volumes of completed conveyancing transactions were also at their highest in April since monthly records began five years earlier in April 2011. Over the month, activity jumped 26% to 114,425 in April from 90,476 in March.

Despite an inevitable slowdown the following month, both May and June also saw year on year rises of 14% with firms completing 81,583 and 90,477 transactions respectively, as activity picked up again despite the uncertainty ahead of the UK’s referendum on its EU membership.

‘Few sectors have been left untouched by the tumultuous events of the past few months, and the impact of the EU referendum on the political and economic landscape. Our analysis shows the conveyancing industry has been tried and tested in recent months, and the pressure shows no sign of easing as our country begins to work out what...

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