Countryslide: Struggling estate agent Countrywide's income slips

 
Helen Cahill
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Stamp duty changes and Brexit uncertainty have been weighing on the property market (Source: Getty)

The UK's largest estate agent, Countrywide, announced a 13 per cent slide in income today as stamp duty reforms and Brexit continued to hit the business.

The figures

For the quarter ending 31 March, group income was £162m, down 13 per cent from the £187m it achieved in the same period last year. However, the figures were in line with Countrywide's expectations.

Exchanges fell by 29 per cent, knocked by a difficult comparable; home sales jumped in the first quarter of 2016 in response to the stamp duty tax increase, which came in on 1 April last year.

At time of writing, Countrywide's share price was up 1.17 per cent at 172.25p.

Why it's interesting

Countrywide and other estate agents have been facing a sluggish second-hand housing market, which has slowed due to tax changes and the EU referendum. Buy to let investment in UK property has cooled down after stamp duty was raised on second homes, reducing transaction volumes.

Read more: Profits at the UK's largest estate agent have fallen by more than half

Anthony Codling, analyst at Jefferies International, said the estate agent was trading in line with expectations, and could yet recover.

"In our view although Countrywide may be down, it is not out," he said. "And if what doesn't kill is makes us stronger we expect the group to emerge strongly from the storm once it has run its course."

What Countrywide said

Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide, said: "In the first quarter of the year market trends were as anticipated. The snap general election called for 8 June is not expected to significantly alter the overall level of market transactions for 2017 and we still expect the market to be around five per cent below 2016 levels."

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