This year’s housing boom following the first Covid lockdown in 2020 led to a 44% hike in conveyancing fees, a roundtable hosted by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has heard.
Those attending the event were told that the huge demand for conveyancing services prompted several significant changes the sector.
This included red-hot demand pushing up fees, the rapid adoption of technology, many conveyancers working crazily long hours and that many are ‘exhausted’.
Referring to the rise in fee – which, it was claimed, has simmered down since the market has cooled in recent weeks – Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said the “chase to the bottom caused half of the problems that we have seen”.
“How can you afford technology when you are not making a profit? It has to be a good thing that the market has risen, and that people can be properly resourced.
“Particularly with transaction times of 18 weeks, your pipeline turn and the cash coming in has been really tricky.”
The stress placed on the sector was acknowledged, with reports of conveyancers working at 150% of their usual capacity as they struggled to work around the restrictions and staff shortages due to Covid.
Coming out of the stamp duty holiday, Andrew Lloyd (pictured), MD of property data company Search Acumen, added: “The industry as a whole is exhausted – the supply chain has been in exactly the same position as conveyancers.
“Whether it is local authorities who are being asked to provide due diligence information or the other third parties involved in providing signing services, all of it has been stretched to its absolute limit.”
A detailed report on the roundtable can be read on the CLC website.