Property lawyers handling 40% fewer cases as market reverts to mean

Property law firms are handling an average of over 40% fewer cases than at the market’s peak two years ago, according to a respected statistical bellwether.

Cases are down 25% in 12 months, reflecting a 21% decline in monthly property transactions.

The figures appear in the latest conveyancing market tracker from data company Search Acumen.

In the third quarter of 2023 the average firm handled 62 cases, a 25% decrease year on year and a 41% fall from the Q1 2022 peak, when firms handled 94 cases in the “post-pandemic frenzy”. September 2023 saw the fewest property market transactions in nearly three years.

The latest figures do, however, suggest that the market has reverted to the mean. Sixty-two cases per quarter is in line with pre-pandemic figures, which “could be an indication of a return to traditional activity levels”.

The total number of active firms has suffered from the market slowdown, dropping below 3,900 for the first time outside a pandemic in August 2023 and remaining below that level since. 

Search Acumen said:

“This reflects a market rife with acquisitions and big winners.”

The top 500 law firms are on track for a 60% market share for 2023, up from 51% in 2011. They now handle three in five transactions.

The top 100 has edged combined market share up to around 77%, another record high.

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumensaid: 

“As workloads slow for property lawyers, a number of firms are making moves to consolidate in a sign of the changing demands of the real estate market.

“During periods of significant mergers and acquisitions, it is therefore likely that some of the larger firms may be growing due to this, and why the top 500 firms are dominating market share.”


Kindly shared by The Law Society Gazette