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Residential Property: The complete selling package.

Byline: Marsya Lennox

Anew generation of vendors is trying out an alternative house-selling service - the one-stop solicitors' property shop.

For years, Scottish sellers have been relying on firms of solicitors to market their homes, negotiate on their behalf and see the transaction through the legal process.

Also common in mainland Europe, the practice now accounts for 90 per cent of property sales in Edinburgh along with a large share of the market throughout east and central Scotland.

The idea may now catch on in the Midlands, believe Thomas Horton & Sons, a firm of Bromsgrove solicitors founded in the 1880s.

And since last summer, it has been offering clients the complete property selling service under the Solicitors Property Shop umbrella. Thomas Horton & Sons is one of the first Midland members of the SPS network, the property marketing group overseeing this diversification by solicitors.

The SPS company is sister to the now firmly established Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, established in 1971, now with 265 member firms who sold property worth some pounds 2 billion in 2002.

The idea has been spreading south of the border steadily since 1999 with more than 50 firms now recruited down through Yorkshire, the North East and now the Midlands.

The idea is that conveyancing and marketing are offered in one competitive package.

Senior partner at Thomas Horton & Sons, Matthew Horton said: 'With Solicitors Property Shop, instead of using separate estate agents, solicitors and sellers can access all the services they need under one roof.

'This means that the same team handles the whole transaction - legal paperwork and agency services, delivering a more efficient service, with less time wasted and less room for errors.

'This is a highly competitive market and was a big departure for us as a firm of solicitors. It meant, however, that as a company, we could bring genuine added value in the area, and strategically, it afforded us an opportunity to develop a service that would turn the existing system - where people use an estate agent and a solicitor - on its head.' Vendors are charged one per cent of the sale value, plus VAT to include legal fees.

And a steady stream of clients have been signing up for the services, reports the Bromsgrove SPS. 'We are confident we can grow this side of the business in 2003,' added Matthew Horton.

'This is a truly innovative and different way of selling your property and the sort of homes we are attracting to the property shop shows we are offering something for which there is a genuine, burgeoning market.

The business is based in the centre of Bromsgrove in renovated 17th century buildings, Strand House at 70, The Strand. The official opening was performed by CBI director, Digby Jones.

Among recent instructions for the Bromsgrove SPS is Mill Cottage at Mill Lane, Radford near Inkberrow in Worcestershire, a listed country cottage, priced at pounds 400,000.

On the edge of the village in a cul-de-sac setting, it comes with secluded gardens and a paddock of around an acre. The old timber framing is clear to see on the original portion of the property, obviously authentic in its lack of symmetry and varying timbers. Un-matched windows to the ground floor level are another indication of the property's age.

There is a lobby and entrance hall, ground floor bathroom, beamed snug and a generous dining room containing a staircase plus full height windows with garden views. Another staircase leads up from the timbered breakfast room which is partly open with the smart kitchen with fitted storage and appliances.

There is a further living room with inglenook fireplace and a conservatory. The master bedroom is reached from the dining room staircase and has its own en suite bathroom.

The other three bedrooms in the older part of the cottage are reached from the breakfast room.

The garden has a brick patio, ending to the lawn, stone water feature, front drive, car parking and a timber garage. Details from the Thomas Horton & Sons property shop, telephone 01527 577958.

CAPTION(S):

Mill Cottage at Mill Lane, Radford near Inkberrow, Worcestershire, available through Thomas Horton & Sons in Bromsgrove, guide price pounds 400,000 One view of the living room which has an inglenook Looking from the breakfast room into the kitchen through one of the older timber framed walls
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 17, 2003
Words:720
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