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Conveyancers rush to meet stamp duty cut off as volumes surge

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Written by: Lana Clements
22/02/2021
Prospective buyers have less than six weeks to advantage of stamp duty savings before 31 March
Conveyancers rush to meet stamp duty cut off as volumes surge

Property transactions registered in England and Wales leapt by a more than a quarter at the end of last year as busy conveyancers hurry to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline.

Volumes were up by 27 per cent to 73,142 in December from 57,632 in November, according to a monthly tracker by property technology provider Search Acumen.

Conveyancers have rushed to help prospective buyers take advantage of stamp duty savings before 31 March when the temporary tax cut is set to end.

Transactions were last seen at this level in February 2020, while the number of active firms has risen but remains lower than any point before the pandemic.

The uptick in demand in the property market has resulted in firms benefiting from stronger trading conditions, Search Acumen said.

There were 3,808 active firms in Q4 from a low of 2,411 in Q2 2020.

But even with the year-end recovery in conveyancing activity, annual business volumes have remained acutely impacted by the disruption caused to the property market by the pandemic, the firm said.

There were 680,232 completed transactions registered in 2020, compared to 958,243 in 2019.

The top five conveyancing firms by volume of business retained a six per cent combined market share, despite their activity levels remaining 16 per cent lower in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019.

Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, said: “This latest data reveals how much more resilient the property market has been to pandemic-induced shocks compared to the wider economy.

“The surge in activity in the property market can be largely attributed to buyers rushing to capture the savings on offer through the higher stamp duty threshold. Demand has also been stimulated by a change in consumer appetite for properties outside of cities with access to green spaces, as more people than ever before are working from home.

“The stamp duty deadline has put enormous pressure on the conveyancing industry and the traditional processes underpinning much of it, not to mention putting lawyers’ stress levels and patience to the test. This capacity crunch is set to escalate over the next few months and stretch the limits of existing working practices.”

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