Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 12:13 UK

Warning of property jobs losses

House keys
A high number of properties are for sale in the Highlands

Bosses at a Highlands solicitors and estate agents have advised staff that redundancies may have to happen because of a downturn in the housing market.

Gerald Cooper, of Macleod and MacCallum, said losses could not be "ruled in or ruled out".

The Inverness-based firm is ranked among the top 40 solicitors in Scotland.

The jobs warning comes at a time of high numbers of properties being put on the market but a drop in sales.

Established more than 45 years ago, Macleod and MacCallum is also a specialist in crofting law.

I cannot honestly remember the last time as many properties were for sale
Gerald Cooper
HSPC chairman

Mr Cooper told BBC Scotland: "We have advised all of our staff that due to the downturn in property redundancies cannot be ruled in or ruled out at the present time."

He said no redundancy notices had been issued, but added losses were an "inevitability".

Mr Cooper is also chairman of Highland Solicitors Property Centre (HSPC), which represents solicitors and estate agency firms throughout the Highlands and Islands.

But he said there would be no redundancies among HSPC staff because of the high number of properties on the market in the region which required to be looked after by the centre.

Mr Cooper said: "Current statistics of the number of properties for sale at the end of August compared to last year show an increase by 101%.

"There are more than 1,000 properties for sale."

Forecast problems

He added: "I cannot honestly remember the last time as many properties were for sale."

Mr Cooper said this may be evidence of public confidence in the market.

However, the same statistics show sales in August decreased by 55%.

The previous month, the fall was 26% illustrating a pattern of up-and-down in the market said Mr Cooper.

Meanwhile, the average price for properties across the Highlands and Islands have fallen by 6%.

The solicitor forecast problems would continue while people were unable to source mortgages.

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