‘Average of nine estate agents going bust every week’ over last eight years, claim

An average of nine estate agents have gone bust every week in England and Scotland since 2010, says new research.

Of the overall 4,258 failures, 3,903 were in England and 355 in Scotland.

All went through a formal process of liquidation or administration before being closed down.

The highest number of failures was in 2013 at 540, and the lowest was in 2017 with 361 going under.

The figures, which do not include any agency failures in Wales or Northern Ireland, cover the period from the start of 2010 to the end of the third quarter of 2018, the latest period for which figures are available.

The number-crunching has come from apropos, a new online lettings and property management business, which does not see its own future on Britain’s high streets and looks to be using the figures for its own PR purposes.

The brand, which will use Purplebricks-style local experts, is to be rolled out across the UK by Scottish property management firm D J Alexander.

David Alexander, managing director, said: “These figures show that the erosion of the high street estate agent has been going on for some time as the market changes and consumers demand a different service.

“Of course, the problems of bricks and mortar businesses are not limited to estate agents as can be seen by the numerous business failures in casual dining, retail and other high street fixtures.

“The shift online in the property market has been relentless, and generationally there has been a major move by customers under 40 who run their lives through their phones, tablets and computers.

“This group would never now consider going into an estate agent for information and they are the future, so the market must shift to cater for this group.”

He went on: “High rents with long leases and rising business rates have played a central part in causing the closure of many city and town centre businesses, and there appears to be little sign of this situation abating.”

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  1. Mr Impartial

    Where is all this heading? all properties eventually found on Facebook and Google and not much else? if they have the inclination to do what PB do then it is game over for everyone else.

    1. ArthurHouse02

      I would more suggest that if they have the inclination to follow the PB model then it is game over for them and the high st will be just fine

  2. Property Ear

    Another provocative feature!
    Rising to the bait – how many LPE’s/’on line operators’ have called it a day?
    A far higher percentage than ‘High Street’ I would guess.

  3. MF

    How many new estate agents started up during the same period?

  4. AgentV

    The one thing the Call Centre Lister type systems can’t deliver is a high level of personal service from start to COMPLETION of the sale….that is only paid for on a successful result.

    A very high level of service might be more expensive, but it is what most vendors really want.












  5. frostieclaret87

    So many agents are drifting to irrelevance. Just need to look at the High St results for retail (I know agency is not retail but there are parallels).,The top end and bottom end are thriving and the middle is dying. Those that don’t change will die. To deny otherwise is idiocy.

    1. Property Ear

      Top end thriving – Really?

    2. WestMidsValuer97

      A statement from someone who has zero industry insight…

      Although I agree agents need to diversify and look to new streams of revenue.

  6. CountryLass

    I’m curious, is this just one-branch independents, or are they classing corporate office closures as an agency closing? If Countrywide closed down 4 under-performing office, would they see that as 4 agents closing?

    1. J1

      That’s a good question.

      I suspect most low cost independents who provide a great local service are doing okay.

      Mid sized regional agents and corporates with high central overheads and lazy armchair directors are possibly most at risk.



    2. SLF

      If Countrywide closed down 4 under-performing office, would they see that as 4 agents closing?

      Er…yes. They’ve closed.

      1. WestMidsValuer97

        Err….They meant, is that classed as one ‘agent’ as the offices are owned by the same ‘agent’ or are they classing the closures as each individual office that has been closed…..

  7. Anthonyw

    “and looks to be using the figures for its own PR purposes”


    This is just another one of those reports that manipulate stats in the writer’s favor. Like someone else said, they are not presenting the bigger picture which would include the number of new agencies. They should begin by reporting the total number of high street agencies for each of the periods specified, followed by the statistics of leavers and joiners – that would present a fairer picture (plus the reasons why they have gone, as I would like to know if the number of agents has changed too as some agencies might just have amalgamated into another branch or something). The figures reported above are a waste of time.

    I don’t agree that everyone under 40 now prefers to do everything online. In terms of property, yes I agree they will definitely search for property online, that’s a no brainer. But I think more than ever, this generation need the physical agent to help them with buying/selling process. Also, over 40s prefer online too, even my own father has a mobile and tablet and knows how to use it. For him he says he likes the convenience but he wouldn’t buy or sell his home without dealing with a physical real person. I believe this is the case with most people. I also believe that if people want the best of both worlds (online option with a real agent they can call or drop in on and a slightly lower fee) they would be happy. We could offer all those things (and maybe the fee reduction could come out of portal costs instead of the agent’s pocket for a change).

    Finally, we are in danger of being dominated by Google and Facebook. It isn’t just our industry it is happening too, it is just about anyone who advertises on classifieds. Once that happens the same thing will happen as does now with some of the portals where they set the prices and you have to like it or lump it.

  8. fluter

    Have any of these claims be verified and as other posters have mentioned, how many new high street agents have opened in that time? What % of on-line only agents have ceased trading in the same period? Are they referring to branch closures or actual company closures? Lots of self interest in this article i suspect.

    1. cyberduck46

      >All went through a formal process of liquidation or administration before being closed down.


      1. ArthurHouse02

        I would say CD that this stated by the above company is fake news

        1. cyberduck46

          >I would say CD that this stated by the above company is fake news
          Why do you think that?

      2. fluter

        Duckface, I asked if any claims had been verified. Repeating what is actually written in the article does not qualify and is also somewhat condescending as it implies I do not have the ability to read and understand what is written in the first place. Perhaps you should try and understand the question better yourself?

        1. cyberduck46

          >it implies I do not have the ability to read and understand    
          That appears to be about the truth of it. Name calling too! And I was trying to point out something it looked like you’d missed 🙂    
          Let me help you out with the understanding side of it…  
          Question: “Are they referring to branch closures or actual company closures?”  
          Article: “All went through a formal process of liquidation or administration before being closed down.”  
          Reasoning: If you close a branch you don’t go through the formal process of liquidation or administration therefore they must be referring to company closures.    
          I hope that helps.        

          1. fluter

            You really cannot help but be condescending can you!

  9. ArthurHouse02

    What these companies dont get, and their investors certainly dont get is there is a difference between online shopping and buying a property. Yes lots of people use mobile phones and tablets, but there is a huge gap between buying a £5 mug from Amazon and buying a £250,000 house. The age of the internet for helping people look for property peaked 18 years ago when Rightmove became prominent, nothing since then has changed to help people buy or sell any quicker.

    To put my spin on it, PB seem to lose around a quarter of their LPEs every year, and as they have to set up limited companies to “work for” them, i would suggest that at least 150 of the 361 from 2017 were PB staff! – Not saying this is accurate, but it may well be.

    1. cyberduck46

      >i would suggest that at least 150 of the 361 from 2017 were PB staff!
      Very unlikely they would go through a formal process which costs them thousands. You would just let it become dormant.

      1. Property Pundit

        ‘a formal process which costs them thousands’

        ‘You would just let it become dormant’

        Thus proving you know next to jack s**t about limited companies.

  10. Property Ear

    As I posted this morning – ‘Another provocative feature’!

  11. Robert May

    Sounds like propergander to me;  because this sounds so familiar I can’t help but wonder if this was written by a start up PR firm based in Essex.

    Passive intermediary agency is an idea that should be a brilliant idea in some people’s head, its and obvious- save the cost of an office and all the expense of agency suddenly evaporates. Errr… not quite, the Housesimple accounts, very kindly supplied in full to companies house, show the expenses of not having an office far outweigh the cost of having on.

    I keep repeating myself but so do stories like this one. Selling property is not about whacking a listing on the internet which is what passive intermediaries do. There are some stormingly good estate agents who don’t have traditional premises, we never hear this sort of press release from them, they simply get on and  do what they do very well without the sort of external investment stories like this are invariably aimed at attracting.




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