Scots fight back on house sales

Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), which dominates domestic house sales in the Edinburgh area, has opened its fifth office as part of a growing fight back by Scottish solicitors against estate agency chains.

The Sterling office, opened last month, adds to the Dunfermline, Falkirk and Kirkcaldy offices of ESPC which operate alongside its main branch office in George Street, Edinburgh.

The expansion comes within a year of the establishment of the Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre which aims to replicate ESPC's success and other Scottish solicitors' property selling ventures.

Marketing manager for ESPC, Simon Fairclough, says there is much evidence Scottish law firms can stem the inroads made by estate agency chains in handling house sales.

Since establishing the Falkirk office two and a half years ago, ESPC claims its market share of sales handled through a dozen or so member firms has risen from a third to 60 per cent. And in Glasgow, where estate agents had all but wiped out the house vending side of solicitors' practices in the last 20 years, the profession is hitting back.

ESPC, after 25 years in the Edinburgh market, now accounts for 85 per cent of domestic sales. Approximately 250 firms are involved in the ESPC network.

Brian Herbertson, partner with Sterling firm JM & J Mailer, was convenor of the local group of solicitors which negotiated the deal to set up the Sterling office.

"All the firms are hoping this will result in a higher profile for them, and that we would become the first port of call for mortgage and life assurance requirements," according to Herbertson.

Law firms are also increasingly aware of the potential of developing financial services business through mortgage business, adds Herbertson.