Countrywide says slowdown in sales volumes will continue next year

Helen Cahill
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Sheep graze in an enclosure in the villa
The estate agents said volumes would fall this year (Source: Getty)

Countrywide's share price climbed three per cent in morning trading despite a drop in the estate agency group's income in the fourth quarter.

The figures

In a trading update for its performance in 2016, Countrywide said its revenue edged up to £737m from £734m the year before, but that the estate agency's income fell slightly in the fourth quarter, down to £179m from £196m as compared to 2015.

Countrywide also said that it expected sales volumes to have dropped six per cent on 2015.

Why it's interesting

Countrywide is not as exposed to the London market as other estate agents - namely, Foxtons - but has still been affected by the slowdown in the capital's property market following the Brexit vote. The company said today that it expects volumes to drop again this year.

However, it said that it was still on track to meet its guidance for earnings in 2016 (it reports its full year results on 9 March).

Read more: Foxtons shares have fallen again thanks to the mean streets of London

Anthony Codling, analyst at Jefferies International, said: "Strong performance in lettings, financial services and surveying helped mitigate some of the pain caused by falling housing transactions and we expect that many of the digital hybrid agents are jealously looking at Countrywide’s additional revenue streams.

"The hybrid estate agents have yet to crack lettings and many of the referral fees they rely on are based on sales rather than listings, many of them are therefore more exposed to the underlying level of housing transactions than they may like to admit."

What Countrywide said

Alison Patt, chief executive of Countrywide, said: "It is pleasing to report modest full year revenue growth against the backdrop of a challenging residential sales market.

"Our retail and London divisions were impacted by lower market volumes which were partially offset by a strong performance from our lettings business.

"We continue to focus on delivering cost and productivity efficiencies across our business which will mitigate the impact of a 2017 sales market which is expected to show a reduction on 2016 volumes."

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