Britain’s largest estate agency sees huge decline in annual profits
Countrywide has announced a 40% drop in profits over the last year, which has been blamed on a market slowdown and increased competition from online rivals.
Property selling experts are examining the future role of high street estate agents after Countrywide, the country’s largest agency, announced a 40% drop in profits during 2015 when compared with the previous year. The news follows on from a profits warning in November; and comes in spite of an announcement made last month that Countrywide’s fourth quarter performance was better than expected.
Due to higher prices and an ever-dwindling number of potential UK homebuyers, some experts say the property market suffered a slowdown in the second half of 2015. Coupled with an increase in competition from online agencies and property buying companies, the housing giant claims to have borne the brunt of the slump.
“2015 was a challenging year, but we also made strong progress in creating solid foundations for the business to grow as planned in the coming few years,” said Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide. “A tougher sales market coupled with our significant change agenda challenged us in maintaining our share of sales outside of London.”
The announcement has led to many within the industry questioning the need for high street estate agents as business continues to grow for online competitors, with companies such as Zoopla revealing record numbers of visitors month after month, hitting a new record of 58m in January alone. Even less established rivals such as online estate agents Purplebricks and eMoov are showing huge increases in profile as the British public spends more time searching for their next home online as opposed to visiting a local agency.
This latest news paints a difficult picture for those aiming to sell, as people struggle to ensure their house has a visible online presence amongst the high numbers of homes currently on the market. Luckily, alternatives such as property buying companies offer a lifeline to those looking for a quick house sale, by buying any home for cash and helping sellers avoid fees often associated with estate agents.
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