Andy Sommerville, Director at Search Acumen, says:
“December’s transactions figures mark a solid end to what was an extremely fast paced and enormously busy 12 months. While transactions in December rose month-on-month, the rate of growth was slower which was expected for the final month of the year as people’s minds turned to Christmas and Covid-19 reared its head again.
“2022 may be a comparatively quieter year in terms of transactions, but there will be no room for property lawyers to grow complacent. While the past two years have shown that predictions are not always easy to make, the headwinds going into 2022 point to a potentially less frenetic property market, but still operating at higher levels compared to the pre-pandemic period.
“The dominant dynamics so far are rising interest rates, higher mortgage rates, savings normalisation, a hit to real household income caused by inflation and the likelihood that supply picks up from the lows experienced in 2021. This combination is likely to take the sting out of a turbulent housing market.
“Despite this, we can still expect to see people reassessing their housing needs, with hybrid working becoming the new norm, as we hopefully put the worst of the pandemic behind us. The coming year still promises to be one of elevated activity and the property market must position itself to rise to the challenge. Consumers expect property firms to be able to progress their transactions swiftly and conveniently online. Receiving piecemeal information by post, weeks after it is requested, will no longer be tolerated.
“To meet these expectations, we expect to see a further rise in the use of technology for everyday needs. Widespread adoption of AI, for example, can reduce days or even weeks of manual work to minutes, as our AI tool for digitising AP1 submissions demonstrates. It is inevitable that in the not-too-distant future, AI will become commonplace and provide a way for firms to provide dynamic real-time updates. We need to make digitisation the default as soon as possible and the next 12 months will be a time of reckoning for many firms’ digital strategies.”