Speaking at the Legal Futures conference, Harry Hill, Founder of Rightmove predicted that less than half of the current number of residential conveyancing specialist firms will be in business within three years.
Mr Hill said that only volume conveyancers with external capital would be able to withstand the current unsustainable price competition.
He said the move of estate agency groups and mortgage brokers into the residential market had led to a spiral of indebtedness and under-investment in people and technology.
He said: “There are probably eight or 10 firms in the UK who look as if they will make it long term, but the overwhelming majority will not.”
Mr Hill said that in his 45-year working life: “Conveyancing has been the business that I’ve found the hardest of any business I’ve ever done. It has the least reward for effort of any industry I’ve ever been in and I think it’s going to stay difficult whilst pricing stays difficult.”
He said that he had received anonymous hate mail when he founded Countrywide Property Lawyers while chief executive of the Countrywide estate agency chain.
He admitted that he had initially been unconvinced by the idea of Rightmove — now worth some £1.6bn — but had been persuaded to proceed by colleagues.