A new conveyancing ‘powerhouse’ has been created by the merger of the two biggest players – My Home Move and The Simplify Group.
They are joining forces to become Simplify.
Simplify will consist of four property law firms: Advantage Property Lawyers, DC Law, JS Law and Premier Property Lawyers.
In addition, the business will include panel managers Move with Us and My Home Move, which between them processed or panelled 130,000 conveyancing completions last year, along with the QualitySolicitors brand and marketing network.
A spokesperson stressed that the deal is a genuine merger and not a takeover by one firm of the other.
The My Home Move and Simplify Group businesses have grown strongly over the past three years, despite declining levels of transactions in the property market.
The newly created Simplify will build on the technology investments in both businesses in recent years, promising benefits for customers, panel firms and introducers such as estate agents.
The business plans significant investment in service, technology, and further increasing scale over the coming years.
With effect from March 15, the new group will be led by David Grossman, current chief executive of the Simplify Group, and will be headquartered at My Home Move’s Leicester site where over 450 employees are located.
Grossman’s new senior management team will be made up of an equal number of people from My Home Move and the Simply Group. The business will be jointly owned by all the current shareholders of the two groups.
In total, Simplify will have more than 1,500 employees based at eight UK sites and home-based locations across the UK.
Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move, will be leaving the organisation after the transaction completes.
David Grossman, CEO designate of Simplify, said: “I am incredibly excited about the future of Simplify. By combining the best in service, technology and relationships from the two existing groups, we will create a business that will shape the conveyancing market and make life easier for customers, introducers and partners.
“Together we can simplify conveyancing for hundreds of thousands of people each year.”
Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move, said: “During the past six years My Home Move has built on strong foundations to develop a market-leading, multi-award-winning organisation that has continued to break industry records and revolutionise the customer experience of conveyancing.
“It gives me great pride to know that My Home Move is moving to the next stage of its evolution as part of Simplify and I wish the businesses every success.”
EYE columnist Peter Ambrose, of conveyancing firm The Partnership, said: “This merger is a clear sign to the conveyancing industry that it must wake up to the fact that modernisation is unavoidable.
“The days of those tiny law firms that dabble in conveyancing with occasional transactions, that continue to refuse to invest in technology, must surely be numbered.”
Rob Hailstone, founder of the Bold Legal Group, said: “This news will send shock waves to many high street conveyancing firms, big just got bigger. Unlike online estate agents, online/volume conveyancing has been in existence for a while and is not going away. Maybe this is what the future home buying and selling public want?
“To ensure their long-term survival high street firms will need to make sure that they also provide a service that the modern home mover expects. Continued investment in technology for many is a must, as will be concentrating on client retention and growth.
“My gut feeling is that in a few years’ time the number of law firms carrying out any conveyancing will have dropped significantly, to possibly below 2,000. However, the good news is that those that do survive should have a bigger market share.
“It will be interesting to hear the reaction of estate agents to this development.”