Losses for UK’s largest estate agent
The UK’s largest estate agency group Countrywide PLC has been hit by profit losses due to a drop in business, reports The Telegraph. The reported drop in business from Countrywide are from both its lettings and sales areas of business.
The general business of estate agents has been difficult over the past year. Previously, estate agents have been giving away iPads, cars and holidays with homes they sell in an effort to counter the negative impact of the latest stamp duty changes, the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit transition, high inflation with a pattern of increasing interest rates and a general downturn in the property business. Also, the recent base interest rate rise from the Bank of England would also certainly be a factor to put off some buyers.
As a result of these adverse circumstances, Countrywide has made twenty two percent less profit than the previous year. This was also reflected in its falling share prices which even impacted it’s London-based competitor Foxtons’ share prices.
Considering Countrywide’s size, such a discovery is significant as it holds fifty-five high street brands, by far the largest group of estate agent brand names in the UK. Of their brands are Taylors, Sutton Kersh, John D. Wood and Bairstow Eves. It may be that this impact could not only be because of the reasons already mentioned, but also because of online agents providing more competition. In fact, Countrywide was forced to freeze its forty-million-pound online program rollout late last year in order to counter the wave of online estate agents, in addition to closing twenty percent of its one-thousand branches in order to streamline its high street presence.
The article goes on to report that this year will likely continue the challenges presented against Countrywide, as it is certain almost all of the factors will continue well into and through 2018, cementing a tough year ahead for estate agents.