Estate agents close 150 branches a week

| May 6, 2008 | 0 Comments
Estate agents close 150 branches a week

Financial data provider, Debtwire, estimates that 150 UK estate agency branches are closing each week, as a result of the housing market slowdown.

The number of branches across the country has fallen to around 12,000 from approximately 13,000 at the beginning of January and job cuts in the sector amount to approximately 4,000 since the start of the year.

The news follows recent predictions from Movewithus, the network of independent estate agencies, which expects around 4,000 of the UK’s 12,000 estate agents to have disappeared by the turn of the year.

Countrywide, which is the UK’s largest estate agency group, including Bairstow Eves, Gascoigne-Pees and RA Bennett & Partners, has closed 50 branches and is planning further cuts.

According to Peter Bolton King, the chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, the reluctance of banks and building societies to lend money is the nub of the problem.

According to Bank of England figures, the number of mortgages approved for home buyers has fallen by 44% in 12 months, and Mr King warns that the stagnation of the housing market caused by lack of funds has serious implications for the entire retail sector.

In that respect, removal firms have reported a 26% fall in the number of properties changing hands over the past 12 months and have laid-off large numbers of staff as a consequence.

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