The Lawyer's revelation that estate agency giant Hambro Countrywide has undertaken 15,000 conveyancing instructions in the last nine months signals the end of solicitors' traditional dominance of the market.
With a slick, telephone-based conveyancing service operating extended hours, seven days a week, Hambro has shown that consumers are often confused and unhappy with the traditional service offered by high street solicitors.
Solicitors still control over 90 per cent of the conveyancing market. But with Hambro expected to deal with 30,000 instructions next year, how long before their finance and real estate competitors establish their own conveyancing factories?
Hambro says its job has been made easier by a lack of effective co-ordination or opposition in the legal profession. Indeed, high street practitioners have shown little business acumen in their poor response to initiatives by various solicitor-run property centres.
A head-in-the-sand attitude has seen many high street firms say they are just too busy or too worried about offending local real estate agents who pass on conveyancing, to get involved. That attitude will sound the death knell of many of those firms in the next decade.
Nor are the public likely to shed many tears when they close. Hambro's success shows the public are desperate for a more user-friendly conveyancing service.