Franchise firm Belvoir is continuing to predict that there will be 20% fewer agents by the end of next year.
It first made the forecast last year, amid a flurry of purchases by franchisees of their competitors, as part of Belvoir’s assisted acquisitions strategy, and overshooting the acquisitions target.
Belvoir has now said that last year the programme exceeded its target, and confirms consolidation in the industry.
Last year, 26 franchisees completed on 26 transactions under the programme, increasing annualised network revenue to £6.9m – ahead of the £6.6m target and double the 2017 level.
These new acquisitions are expected to add over £600,000 per annum of recurring management service fees, the main revenue stream for Belvoir’s head office.
They also add over 4,400 managed properties, to a portfolio of over 62,000 homes.
All three of the brands within Belvoir made acquisitions: 11 from Belvoir, 13 within Northwood, and two Newton Fallowell franchisees.
While some used Belvoir’s funding – part of the assisted acquisition programme, which provides loans of up to 30% – most did not.
A total of 17 deals were funded entirely by the franchisees themselves. The funding is only one part of the programme which also includes legal advice, identifying opportunities, and help with a business plan.
The average size of the business acquired under the programme increased by 85%, from £144,000 annual revenue in 2017 to £266,000 in 2018.
Belvoir said that this reflects a contraction of the number of agents in the sector not only amongst the smaller but also many of the larger independent agents, as the impact of the number of landlords selling their properties due to a less favourable tax regime and the increased regulation on letting agents takes effect.
Belvoir CEO Dorian Gonsalves said: “Since 2014 we have provided both commercial and financial support to 70 of our franchise owners, many of whom have doubled the size of their business overnight.
“We continue to witness consolidation within the sector, a trend which supports our 2018 prediction that there will be 20% fewer agents by the end of 2020.
“This is evidenced by our acquisition opportunities pipeline being far greater than in previous years.
“Our franchisees are professionally and financially equipped to take advantage of these opportunities, and we currently have 83 franchise owners who are actively searching for a suitable match within their territory.
“Belvoir is here to support our franchisees’ entrepreneurial growth ambitions, which will benefit the group and our shareholders alike.”