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Domestic conveyancers are experiencing a sudden influx of business over the summer, matching reports that the house-buyers market is at the dawn of a revival.
According to a straw poll of law firms, those in the south of England are optimistic about the future of domestic conveyancing and in some cases are recruiting extra staff to cope with demand.
Lawyers say that because firms in the South were the first to experience the effects of the recession in the early Nineties they are likely to be the first to recover from it.
Jonathan Holyhead, partner in charge of the private client department at Southampton firm Hepherd Winstanley & Pugh, said it had been "extremely busy" over the past four months. He said "pent-up demand" and an influx of business meant the domestic conveyancing department was looking to recruit another practitioner.
Bristol firm Lawrence Tucketts confirmed it was also look- ing for extra staff in conveyancing and Guildford firm Barlows said it would be keeping on one of its trainees to work in conveyancing for the first time in years.
Jeremy Shulman, senior partner at Shulmans in Leeds, said: "The recession blanket moved off the South first. Although conveyancing business is ticking over in the North we are not experiencing a bonanza."
Commercial conveyancers, who have reported a rise in work for some time, said they had noticed an increase in work from housing developers, suggesting a demand for new housing over the past few months.
David Mears, partner at Bristol firm Laytons, said he had witnessed trends reminiscent of the Eighties' boom. He cited the case of a client selling an investment property which it had bought only three months earlier.
Former vice-president of the Law Society, Robert Sayer, of Ealing firm Sayer Moore & Co, agreed that domestic conveyancing work had perked up.
But he added that there was still the problem of fees. "There's no point in a firm taking on lots of new work if it doesn't get paid properly," he said. "Things will not improve for conveyancers if they continue to operate as cottage industries with cut-price services."