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There are not many real estate practices that can say the past two years have been a period of explosive growth. The ones that can be more specific and point to a stellar growth rate in 24 months are even rarer.
Arc Property Solicitors is one. The last time The Lawyer profiled the Harrogate-based residential conveyancing specialist (10 August 2009) its turnover was £1.5m. Turnover for the financial year ending March 2011 was £10.7m.
“The last time we were in The Lawyer I mentioned we were looking for angel investors,” recalls Arc managing director Richard Chan. “That never happened. We knew we’d have had to give up equity in return for cash and expertise, and we had both. So we shelved the idea.”
Good decision. Despite the recession and the collapse of certain segments of the property market, people still move house. “There might not be the 200,000 people buying and selling every month that there was at the height of the market, but some conveyancing firms are still doing very well,” adds Chan.
Arc’s success is largely down to the internet. When it launched seven years ago it was one of the first to use the web as a platform to market its services and conduct deals. “Rivals relied too much on estate agents for referrals,” claims Chan. The firm’s canny use of the web has helped boost turnover significantly, a trend Chan sees no sign of stopping in the short term. “We hope to be at around £30m over the next two to three years,” says Chan. “There are still enough people moving, even in a depressed market, to sustain that.”
In the meantime Arc is using its position of strength to launch products, including a life insurance product on which the firm does not charge commission but a fixed fee.
And following a restructuring last year that split the regulated part of the business away from its support functions, Arc is potentially gearing up for third-party investment via an ABS.
“There are no fixed plans, however,” warns Chan. “We’re staying flexible.”