Response from Rob Gurney, Managing Director, Ochresoft
“We’re in the last quarter of a year, where the rollercoaster analogy still very much applies for the legal conveyancing profession. Our colleagues across the industry have been handling huge peaks in activity with the various Stamp Duty Land Tax deadlines in March, June and September for England and Wales, and a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax incentive, which concluded in March 2021, in Scotland.
Such gyrations in caseload demand has certainly been a challenge to resource for our conveyancing colleagues, as data from the latest edition of Landmark’s Property Trends Report has illustrated. While completions slowed in July and August when compared to 2019 levels (-35% and -19% respectively), September subsequently peaked at 44% higher than the same month in 2019.
We now try to anticipate how the year will conclude. Looking back at this time last year, completions for Q3 2020 were on average 12% up on the same period in 2019. Whether that will be the case for 2021 remains to be seen.
The Landmark report is instead painting a picture of a more ‘typical’ levels from our rolling five-year average – for example, search order volumes appeared to take a gradual turn to more ‘normal’ transactions levels by the end of Q3. The real question mark, however, relates to potential concerns regarding the imblanace in buyer demand versus supply. At present demand has overtaken supply, which has the potential to hold back the physical number of sales, putting pressure on prices, potentially causing standing stock levels to drop further. It certainly seems that the rollercoaster ride is yet to finish, and we may need to tighten our seat belts for a little longer.”