A Changing Market

The Property market has most certainly been through the mill. On all levels it has been a most turbulent, unsettled time. ‘Safe as houses’ is not a phrase being utilised much at present, and indeed it may be quite a while before it is. The commercial sector has been equally hit, struggling to keep its head above water.

The gentle recovery will only really take hold when lenders make the funds readily available again. Most conveyancers are upbeat about the awakening market. One factor that many argue did little to help the property market during the recession, was the advent of Home Information Packs. It is hoped within the conveyancing industry that if the Conservatives gain power HIPs will be quickly abolished.

HIPs have put the dampeners on the usual springtime property revival. Even curious sellers, who previously would have put their houses on the market, purely to see if the asking price could be met, are now reticent as the presence of the Home Information Pack means that costs will be incurred by them immediately.

Slowly and with great trepidation the housing market seems to be recovering. There does seem to be some semblance of light at the end of the tunnel for the residential property market. With this new life comes great change.

The Residential market has experienced a huge falling away since 2007/08. This has impacted not only on the levels of instructions but in the surge of referral fees being demanded by estate agents. It would appear that conveyancing lawyers who do not pay referral fees might be losing out.

These companies that require referral fees tend to be the larger estate agents. If you are to deal with them, a lot of infrastructure needs to be put in place to cope with the high number of transactions and the constant contact they require.

Even if referral fees are taken out of the equation, conveyancing lawyers are becoming highly competitive in order to survive. Marketing companies are doing well, even small legal practices are realising that they need to be proactive in order to compete. Some are even taking contracts from the ‘big boys’. It’s all about getting you name and message out there.

Estate agents are fretting about Tesco and Google entering the property selling market, this will also impact on conveyancing lawyers. Spicerhaart launched their online estate agency iSold.com in conjunction with Tesco recently and will market the service through the tesco.com website. Should Tesco decide to offer conveyancing, it will be a watershed for the profession and could have a huge impact on the market.

Commercial property lawyers are in somewhat of a better position than residential lawyers in as much as they are dealing with a more predictable market. There is not the emotional attachment involved in purchasing business premises that there is in buying your home. Commercial property buyers realise that you cannot stand still and things need to move quickly.

With change comes opportunity. Conveyancing lawyers will need to adapt to the times or face extinction. It is already the case that of some 8000 lawyers undertaking conveyancing, only 780 of them undertake 60% of the work. The next few years will be challenging for the housing market and the lawyers that depend upon it for their survival.

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