Canada’s 2023 real estate market outlook provides challenges – and opportunities – for law firms

A challenging economic environment brought on by interest rate spikes and a cooling real estate market is pushing Canada’s legal practices to make some difficult choices as they look ahead to 2023.

According to a recent Angus Reid Forum survey conducted by Dye & Durham, nearly half of Canadians say that rising interest rates have caused them to delay making a real estate transaction in the next year.

Among the survey’s respondents, 23 per cent expect to delay home renovations or improvements and 10 per cent believe they’ll delay purchasing a new home, while 19 per cent think rising rates mean it will take significantly longer to pay their mortgage than anticipated.

A slowing market brought on by reduced demand for real estate is a worrisome trend for businesses and professionals with a direct interest in real estate transactions, particularly individual lawyers and smaller firms. The effects of this slowdown can’t be overlooked – following a relative real estate boom in 2021, a reduction in transactions will have a significant impact on most legal practices’ bottom line.

Real estate is essential for Canada’s “small law” firms, which make up the largest segment of the legal profession. These much leaner practices — typically founder-owned and operated with a small number of partners and focused on individual rather than corporate matters — are deeply involved in real estate conveyancing from purchase and sale contracts to mortgage payments.

“Since about 97 per cent of all legal practices in Canada are considered small law firms, there’s no doubt that the effect of rising interest rates on Canadian real estate habits will directly impact the transaction volume of the vast majority of the legal market in 2023,” says Jack Mead, VP of Product at Dye & Durham Canada.

But with a challenging market comes the opportunity for smaller firms and individual lawyers to change course, especially following 2021’s record level of real estate purchases and sales. In some cases, the sheer volume of transactions prevented practices from growing other areas of their practices, including wills and estates, family law or litigation or executing on overall practice management goals.

“The most successful law firms will be those entrepreneurial ones that balance this reduced volume by leveraging technology to realize efficiencies and build new offerings across their practice,” says Mead.

Individual lawyers and smaller practices can seize new opportunities by adopting integrated digital tools to manage day-to-day operations and managing the transition to paperless offices. But smaller firms dealing in real estate face the additional challenge in 2023 of deciding which of the many software products, service providers and varied fee structures they should go with to find a cost-effective suite of solutions to grow their practice amid reduced transaction volume.

That’s why Dye & Durham has taken ground-breaking steps to support the practice management pivot head-on.

“Dye & Durham is the only cloud-based practice management services provider offering a full suite of solutions across all areas,” says Bryce Szela, VP of Sales at Dye & Durham Canada.

Unity®, Dye & Durham’s leading real estate practice management solution, offers law firms of every size and practice area with a comprehensive solution that helps lawyers and small law firms manage the business of their legal practice.

This one-stop shop solution offers an end-to-end practice management platform where individual lawyers and firms can gain a 360-degree view of practice management with customized and specialized workflows for common practice areas, including real estate conveyancing or wills and estates, and specific matter types.

Unity® customers are also able to manage client relationships and new intake opportunities, as well their accounts and billing processes, including invoice generation, reconciliation and payment collection. And they can take advantage of the platform’s robust cloud-based document management and storage capabilities.

“All of our offerings are backed by Dye & Durham’s commitment to best-in-class service, offering a single price point, engaged customer relationships and personalized tech support,” says Szela.

As individual lawyers and small law firms determine their options in the coming year’s real estate market environment, they should consider the advantages that come with Dye & Durham’s comprehensive suite of offerings that bring together the solutions they’ll need not just to manage their practice, but to thrive in 2023 — and beyond.

To set up a demo or learn more about Unity® or any of Dye & Durham’s 18+ Canadian product offerings for legal and business professionals, contact your relationship manager or get in touch with us online.

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