Figures obtained by Today’s Conveyancer suggest that conveyancers are increasing their fees in response to the challenges presented by housing market demand.
In response to reports over the last week in the the estate agency and legal press that conveyancers are “hiking” prices, we can reveal that across England and Wales, prices have increased by around 45% since January 2020.
The figures have been obtained from lead generation specialists reallymoving who sampled 194,000 quotations, grouping them into North, Midlands & Wales, and South.
The highest price growth is in the South, with a 50% increase since Jan 2020, Midlands and Wales around 44% and the North saw a 37% increase.
“The stamp duty holiday has had a clear impact on buyer demand, particularly in the South where house prices are highest. It’s unsurprising to see conveyancing fees grow as solicitors and licenced conveyancers work flat out to keep up with demand, this is most evident in the areas with the greatest benefit from the holiday.”
Says Rob Houghton CEO of reallymoving.
In this publication Lawyer Checker CEO Chris Harris wrote a piece in defence of conveyancers, arguing that the economics of supply and demand necessitated the increase of prices.
“With about 163,000 purchases according to HMRC in March with I assume a similar number of sales, it means that demand exceeds supply by about 12-15%.
“In most markets when demand exceeds supply, prices rise. There is some evidence of this in this market.”
In May, Today’s Conveyancer ran our latest mental health and sentiment survey, in which 49% of respondents suggested they had seen colleagues leave the profession as a result of the impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
Recognising the efforts of the profession Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said
‘Stressed and under-pressure solicitors have been working late into the night and over weekends, with little or no work-life balance, to ensure their clients’ transactions are able to complete according to their wishes.
“Many factors limiting the speed of a move – delays in the issuing of search results, delays in mortgage offers being issued, problems in the chain and with dependent transactions – are usually outside the control of the conveyancer. They cannot guarantee transactions will complete before the end of June, when the stamp duty holiday begins to taper off.”
At the point the SDLT holiday extension was announced in the March budget, a LinkedIn poll indicated that only 9% of respondents excluded SDLT from their quotations.
61% indicated they were including SDLT in their quotations and advising clients their transactions that their move would likely extend beyond the June and September deadlines, and 30% were doing so on a case by case basis.
Tom Lyes, Director of Engagement at The Practical Vision Network, described the headlines as unhelpful.
“The sorts of headlines we have seen this week serve only to inflame the situation and further entrench this ‘us vs them’ attitude that sadly exists. I applaud the firms who have been brave enough to increase prices and in many respects hope that we are moving away from the race to the bottom that has plagued conveyancing in recent years to enable firms to create greater profitability and improve client experience.”