Thorntons considers capital housing market move

THORNTONS, the biggest law firm in Tayside, is eyeing a push into Edinburgh’s cut-throat residential property market after appointing a new divisional boss.

Peter Ryder: resurgent property market is an attractive target

Peter Ryder has been charged with growing the firm’s estate agency operation after taking on the role of managing director of property services.

He said that the “market is 
on the way back”, with a 
sharp rise in the buying 
and selling of homes, and the business needed to “expand 

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Thorntons is headquartered in Dundee with satellite estate agency operations in Arbroath, Forfar and Perth, handling hundreds of properties. Its 
Edinburgh office currently 
focuses on other areas of legal practice.

However, Ryder – who will announce this week that he is to step down as chairman of the Solicitors Property Centre (SPC) Scotland network to 
focus on his new job – admitted the capital’s resurgent property market made an 
attractive target.

“I would like to see us 
become the number one solicitor/estate agency choice for the east of Scotland,” he said.

“We will maximise the 
potential of our existing offices but in the longer term look 
at expansion elsewhere. The Edinburgh office is not active within the property services side at present but that is one area that we would certainly consider moving into.”

Edinburgh’s property market is highly competitive with a number of mid-tier commercial law firms that have large residential departments.

Thorntons will this week boost its property services team by six, to 40 staff, after deciding to extend its opening hours to 8pm and weekends.

Ryder, previously chief executive of Tayside Solicitors Property Centre (TSPC), said: “The market is on the way back and there is definitely stability now. We think it will improve further this year, helped by the improved availability of mortgage finance and the Help to Buy scheme.

“We are also beginning 
to see the developers come back onto the market. Things are getting busier and we 
need to expand the business accordingly.”

He added: “Over the last 
two to three months, the firm has been getting more instructions from the new-build side, which is very encouraging 
and linked back to financing, as the banks are being more flexible.”

He described the market in the east of Scotland as stable, with fears over a fresh property price bubble largely restricted to London and parts of the south-east of England.

Figures from the Nationwide last week showed the average house price in Dundee and Angus had risen by 4 per cent annually to just below £149,000. In Edinburgh the increase was 5 per cent to almost £242,000.

Prior to his appointment at TSPC in early 2010, Ryder spent 20 years at the Halifax 
in various roles, having been employed by Royal Bank of Scotland before that.