Things are happening in the conveyancing market. Significant things. Some good, some not so good. All in all though for conveyancing firms the complexities of this dynamic marketplace are increasing on a daily basis and those firms that have their ducks in a row in terms of maximising efficiencies and streamlining processes have the most to gain.
A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN TRANSACTIONS
Firstly, according to the Land Registry, there was a 44% increase in residential property transactions comparing 2012 figures with 2016 (Legal Futures Article – Dec 2016). There has been a significant reduction in the number of actual practising conveyancers during this period too which means the country’s conveyancing workload is now being shouldered by far fewer people. The article estimates that each individual conveyancer is handling an extra 110 transactions per annum.
Whilst great news for the industry conveyancers are working longer hours to achieve this and therefore need sound legal software systems they can rely upon more than ever.
In a recent white paper (Feb 2017) the Government admitted the housing market has been broken for some time and needs fixing. The paper sets out a broad range of reforms designed to boost the housing market including:
– increasing the supply of new homes
– introducing incentives for older people encouraging them to move out of underused bigger homes
– and implementing extra protection for tenants.
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY:
On the other hand, referring to this week’s ‘Budget’, many feel Hammond has missed an opportunity to address the issues around stamp duty which pundits are describing as “unfair”. Rob Clifford, group commercial director of property specialist SDL Group was quoted in The Express this week. He said, “A review is now long overdue as it was last amended back in 2014, and it’s not just second and third time buyers who are being hit in the pocket. With house prices rising to a 10-year high, and the average property price heading towards £250,000, many first time buyers who would previously have been exempt, now find themselves incurring stamp duty costs too.”
Buyers will still have 30 days to file and pay their stamp duty. This was due to be cut to 14 days in 2017-2018 but, after consultation, has been delayed for a year.
Another significant market factor affecting conveyancers is Cybercrime, which is now recognised as the most prevalent crime in the UK. According to a recent report by the SRA three-quarters of all cybercrime reports to the regulator occur on a Friday afternoon with the majority of cases involving conveyancing. Conveyancing fraud has seen people lose their life savings. Research from the Law Society has shown one-quarter of firms have been targeted by cybercriminals, with nearly one in ten resulting in money being stolen.
Conveyancing firms in particular must ensure they become much more cyber-aware to be able to address this very real threat if they wish to survive and thrive in this marketplace.
A recent Lawyer Monthly article (Feb 2017) claims that around 83% of conveyancers predict Brexit will significantly affect the UK property market in 2017 mainly due to the cyclical economic uncertainty attached to the referendum result.
THE CYRSTAL BALL:
In our crystal ball on conveyancing we see technology as the key enabler to running and growing a sustainable conveyancing law firm in the future in this challenging climate. With increased transactions and fewer practising conveyancers, we believe the firms heading for success, without jeopardising the quality of client care, are those recognising that technology is the answer.
A conveyancing firm with a good legal software partner they can trust – that offers robust software along with robust support services and keeps abreast of your unique market challenges to ensure the software tools they offer are fit-for-purpose – is absolutely paramount.
Select Legal Systems Limited, authors of the popular legal practice management suite of software for law firms, is the software supplier of choice for hundreds of UK law firms. LAWFUSION, the company’s flagship product includes software modules for legal accounts, legal case management, time recording, CRM & Marketing and much more. For more information about the Select Legal Systems Limited and LAWFUSION, please call during office hours on 01482 567601. Alternatively there is an online enquiry form available 24/7.