Agents’ agony as buyer numbers plunge to six-year low

Data from the National Association of Estate Agents suggests that the registered buyer numbers per member branch have slumped to its lowest since 2012.

The association says that in October there were 13 per cent fewer buyers per branch than in September – just 294 compared to 338.

Meanwhile the supply of housing available also decreased by 13 per cent, falling from 46 in September, to 40 per branch on average. This is the same level reported in August, when the heatwave triggered a market lull.

NAEA chief executive Mark Hayward says the results “prove that uncertainty surrounding Brexit is having an impact on the sector.”

He adds:

“It’s possible that many buyers and sellers are putting their plans on hold while they wait for clarity on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will mean for them and the property market.

“We’re also entering a quieter period seasonally, where we typically see the market slow down as people put their moving plans on hold until the New Year.

“With fewer prospective buyers interacting with the market, it’s important those currently trying to sell their home ensure it is priced competitively and is presented in the best possible way.”

Meanwhile figures from LSL Property Services, one of the country’s largest agencies, show a nine per cent slump in sales in the first 10 months of this year.

However, the company’s trading performance has been helped by improved lettings and financial services income.

In a short trading statement to the City and shareholders, LSL’s board says the group’s overall performance is in line with expectations.

Group revenues for the first 10 months of 2018 increased 3.7 per cent to £270.5m; looking just at the four-month period up to the end of October, group revenue was £117.6m, some 7.5 per cent up on the same period of 2017.

In the Estate Agency Division – which includes London agency Marsh & Parsons – residential sales income was down by five per cent in the same four-month period, July to October inclusive.

However, lettings income rose four per cent and financial services income boomed 15 per cent.

Over the same four-month period, Marsh & Parsons delivered what the board calls “a good revenue performance despite a challenging London market” with total revenue up three per cent.

The company says:

“Market activity levels have remained subdued in 2018. With continued uncertainty over the UK and global political environment and the impact on UK consumer confidence, we continue to remain cautious on the market outlook for 2019.”


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