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Residential and commercial conveyancing levels remained subdued last year, according to the latest annual report and accounts from the Land Registry.
Chief executive Stuart Hill said: "For the sixth consecutive year, activity in residential and commercial convey- ancing, and in the mortgage markets, has rested at a modest level."
But the overall workload of applications handled by the Land Registry increased by 4.8 per cent over the previous year, reflecting the substantial transfer of legal property interests arising, for example, from mergers or takeovers by banks and lending institutions, the transfer of social housing from local authorities to housing associations and property asset transfers from privatisations.
Continued savings from cost reductions, achieved through a 25 per cent cut in staff to 8,000 since 1990, have enabled the Land Registry to reduce fees by 5 per cent from April 1996. In October 1994 fees were slashed by nearly 11 per cent.
In the report Hill says: "The registry has again improved performance, achieving record results in target areas such as unit costs and speed and quality of service."