The bottom has fallen out of the previously lucrative conveyancing industry, with a prediction of more retrenchments nationwide this year.

Australian Institute of Conveyancers president Pauline Barrow said a tightening of bank-lending practices, a reluctance of owners to sell and employment uncertainty by buyers had seen business fall in some instances by up to 40%. Losses varied between states.

In the previously buoyant West Australian property market, conveyancing had experienced up to a 40% drop in 12 to 18 months.

Jillian Nelson-Coulon, the institute's WA president, said some businesses had laid off staff and many had shut over Christmas.

The Australian