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Solicitors would stand up to Google estate agency, say ELPG

4 December 2009

Property solicitors in Scotland should not panic at the prospect of Google moving into the estate agency market, according to a group of leading firms.

The Scotsman reports today that the internet giant is in talks with estate agents to launch a free online property portal in the UK, and suggests that this could lead to a "major battle" with existing property websites.

However the member firms of the Edinburgh and Lothians Property Group (ELPG), which handles almost 25% of house sales in the Edinburgh area, predict that Google would make less of an impact than south of the border.

John Lints, senior partner at ELPG member firm, the Lints Partnership, said: “The market here in Scotland has always been significantly different from England. South of the border there is a far greater network of estate agency only businesses and they may be worried about a free Google portal.

“However, here the property market is dominated by legal firms which have also developed a very strong estate agency function. The important point is that the legal service remains at the very heart of the entire process."

Markets adapting

He added: “It is a compelling model which people trust. Not only are you getting the best legal services, but extremely professional estate agency services on the back of it.

“Of course no-one in the sector can afford to be complacent, nor will we be. Our firms are constantly looking at ways to improve, to adapt according to market changes and customer needs."

Google has refused to comment on its plans, and speculation centres on whether and how it would charge for content.

Mr Lints commented: “Technology is certainly a very big part of what is driving change, but it is unlikely Google will ever end the need for a lawyer in a Scottish house sale transaction.


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