But competition from ABSs is only fourth on list of 'threats' to businesses
A fifth, or 21 per cent, of conveyancing firms say they would possibly or are definitely considering becoming an ABS in the next twelve months, a survey by Searchflow has found.
The property search specialist contacted 108 conveyancing firms in July. Most said they would not consider becoming an ABS, although more than a third, 36 per cent, said they still did not know.
Despite the sluggish property market, 47 per cent of firms said the amount of business had increased in the last year. Only 18 per cent reported a fall.
Competition from ABSs was not seen by most firms as the biggest threat to their businesses.
The top threat, cited by 28 per cent of conveyancers, was identified as panel selection by lenders. HSBC and Santander have recently been involved in negotiations with the Law Society over their decisions to reduce the size of panels.
The weak property market came second on the list of threats, with 22 per cent, following by increasing costs of indemnity insurance, at 15 per cent.
Competition with ABSs came just behind, with 14 per cent.
Richard Hinton, business development director at SearchFlow, said: “Despite initial concerns as to the impact of the Legal Services Act, in terms of the licensing of new forms of legal practice to deliver legal services it appears to have made little difference so far.
“Fears that it would undermine the quality of advice appear to be unfounded, and while it is still early days the more immediate issues are panel management and the weak property market.”
In a separate development, Harry Hill, former boss of Countrywide and chairman of In-Deed, has announced the launch of a new licensed conveyancing firm based in London, Lewis & Thomas.
In-Deed bought licensed conveyancers Runnett & Co in May this year, with offices in Brigend in Wales and London. Hill said at the time that the London offices of Runnetts would be rebranded and it is understood that the new firm will operate from them.