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Banks, Financial

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Categorized | Property

Countrywide warns slowdown will last into 2017

Posted on November 24, 2016

UK estate agent Countrywide warned that its profits will be at the lower end of expectations this year, after changes to stamp duty and uncertainty following the EU referendum left transaction levels “significantly below” last year.

The company, which runs the UK’s largest chain of residential estate agents, predicted that transaction volumes for the full-year are likely to be 6 per cent lower than 2015, and added that it is “likely” that transaction levels will shrink again next year.

Revenue in the third quarter slipped to £189m, from £197m in the same period last year. House exchanges fell 1 per cent overall but the company suffered a big slowdown in London, with volumes 29 per cent lower on an annual basis.

Shares in Countrywide dropped as much as 5.5 per cent yesterday, after the chancellor announced a ban on letting agents charging fees to tenants.

Philip Hammond said he would introduce a ban “as soon as possible“, but Countrywide chief executive Alison Platt insisted “we look forward to working with the government through this consultation process”.

The company’s shares were already struggling before the Autumn Statement, hitting a record low last month after its house broker cut earnings forecasts.

In September, Countrywide said it would close around 7 per cent of its branches as online rivals build market share and low transaction volumes weigh on margins.

Alison Platt, Countrywide chief executive, said in its latest update on Thursday:

We have made good progress this year despite tough market conditions since the EU referendum, particularly pleasing is our growth in market share in both Sales and Lettings based on available market data up to July. In addition, these results in our Lettings, Mortgage and Professional Service businesses underline the importance of the breadth of the group and the focus we have placed on keeping the customers we win and continuing to serve them.