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  • Mal McCallion


5,000 UK estate agent branch closures in 2023 is a +lot+.


Even reading more into the detail of this story, courtesy of TwentyCi via EstateAgentToday – where they state that 2,893 sales branches and 1,906 lettings branches shut but 1,739 sales branches and 1,247 opened – that still leaves a net loss of 1,154 sales and 659 lettings branches, around 8% of the market according to Rightmove stats.


That’s +huge+.


With sales transactions down 12% to 1.06m, time taken for sales to complete up to 123 days, there was definitely more pressure on agencies during 2023 than 2022 and 2021. But it’s actually just returned (aside from the completion time) to broadly a ‘traditional’ sales year – and still, that’s a heck of a lot of dead, non-revenue-generative activity, just opening and closing branches.


As I trundled round the country last year seeing agents, I have to say that it didn’t strike me that this many High Street branches, certainly, were closing (or opening). Perhaps there were a lot of off-street ‘offices’ that are counted in the figures – and it does seem that Purplebricks’s dramatic implosion and the wider retraction of the ‘bargain bin operators’ is included here.


Whilst the headline number of 5,000 closed agent branches will get the attention, I’m pretty sure that the quality, independent end of the market hasn’t seen much, if any, significant shrinkage. Good agents have used the market to help vendors understand that, in the end, you get what you pay for and have been returning fees towards a more appropriate level.


If this net loss of 8% of the market is at the cheap, lazy end of the market then that’s all to the good. As the market shows signs of an uptick in the early days of 2024, that leaves the proper, grownup agents to step in and help many more vendors to genuinely achieve the move they’re looking for, at the best price in the timeframe desired.


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