Conveyancers have reported a 15% rise in work over the past year – although one in five fear the weak property market still poses a threat, according to a national survey.

The poll of 320 solicitors and licensed conveyancers carried out by search provider SearchFlow found that 59% reported a rise in work over the past 12 months, while only 7% saw a fall.

This contrasts with the number of property sales in the market, which according to the latest Land Registry House Price Index is down 3% year on year. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents complained that increased legal practice compliance has increased their workload, although only a fifth (22%) of firms have hired more staff to cope with this.

Looking ahead, 27% of respondents expected their greatest threat over the next 12 months to come from lenders’ panel selection decisions. A fifth remained most concerned about the weak property market and 15% thought the rising cost of insurance would have the biggest impact on them.

SearchFlow’s chief executive, Marshall King, said: ‘The fact that firms are not yet taking on resource indicates that the recovery is still seen as fragile.’

Jonathan Smithers, chair of the Law Society’s conveyancing and land law committee, described the increase in demand as encouraging, but said many firms are trying to manage an increased workload with the same resources. ‘It is vital that efficient and streamlined processes are in place to cope with the increased volume of work.’

Chairman of the Conveyancing Association Eddie Goldsmith said the findings match the experience of his members, who have reported that instructions are ‘on the up and up’.