Do we really need so many estate agents on high streets, asks new research

The streets of London are paved  …  with estate agents.

Research which used only Rightmove data and therefore does not include any agents not on the portal, claims to have found that across London there are over 2,600 high street estate agents’ branches.

In seven London boroughs, there are more than 100 estate agents each with Westminster having 179 and Wandsworth over 150. At the bottom of the leader board is Barking & Dagenham with 25.

On average, each London borough has 83 high street agency offices.

The research was done by online agent HouseSimple, which calculated that last year, each London branch made just under four sales a month. The business used Land Registry data.

HouseSimple also calculated how many estate agents there are within 400 metres of major tube stations.

It research revealed that Walthamstow has 18 estate agents, while Wimbledon, Ealing Broadway and Borough each have 15 agents, and Canary Wharf and Notting Hill Gate each have 14 within that distance.

The research also claimed that London agents earned more than £1bn in fees last year. However, it used an average commission fee of 1.8% – and as Stephen Hayter’s article for Eye on fees shows, working out average commissions is a complex matter.

The online agent pushed its research to claim that high street agents may be costing customers by “filling their pockets”.

Alex Gosling, CEO of HouseSimple, said: “London high streets are literally paved with property gold.

“While small independent retailers are being pushed out by rising rents, estate agents are securing the best spots on the high street and filling their pockets – last year to the tune of more than £1bn in fees.

“In a buoyant property market it’s easy for estate agents to set up shop, and by continuing to charge exorbitant fees to home sellers, they can afford to pay the rent on less than four sales a month.

“It’s impossible to walk down a local high street in London now without passing an estate agent’s window, but Londoners may still be surprised to know just how many estate agents there are across the capital.

“More than 2,600 estate agents is a staggering number when you consider that most people now start their property searches online, and many never even venture into a high street agent’s premises.

“So the question Londoners may legitimately ask is, do we need so many of them?”

London estate agents graphic - 2015

Homesearch EOS
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6 Comments

  1. seenitall

    supply and demand.

    Market economics.

    Simples really.

    A bit like – Allow more houses to be build = lower demand and lower prices.

    Its a good job these agents are employing people and paying tax on all this £1 Billion  earnt commission, paying rent, business rates, tax, property omnibusman, NARLS, ARLA, client fund protection, wages.

    The benefit of supposedly living in the UK is that we are no a communist state, we have market forces, if there is a gap in the market someone opens up a business takes a risk and hopefully earns some money.   It appears even the basic concept of a ‘free market economy’ is lost on some people and Labour..

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  2. Richard Copus

    If the current number of annual house sales continue  it is likely that around half of high street estate agents will disappear over the next ten years with  on-line agents picking up the bulk of the general residential market.  The survivors will be those who specialise in some form or other, have a particularly good reputation, use their professional qualifications and experience, or make positive use of their high street presence to carry our face to face negotiating and one-to-one client contact which on-line agents can never do.  The end result is likely to be a slimmed down but much more efficient industry with a better reputation.  (My crystal ball is now clouding over!).

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    1. WPD

      Totally agree with Richard.  Anyway, At the end of the day, estate and rental agency business is not licenced or even regulated in any meaningful sense. You can be working on the fish counter at tescos one day and open up an agency the next.  Some could call it a “free market” but in many places its “the law of the jungle” with consumers being ill advised and ripped off. I am assisting with the criminal prosecution at the moment of an “agent” who has ripped off one of my clients. – obviously can’t say any more.  We are all getting tarred with the same brush, especially here in Central London.

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    2. smile please

      Really??? – I agree with reputation but qualifications the general public have no idea about is laughable, as for online agents that will be the next “Miss-selling” scandal! – These listers have no idea how to value or market a property just they just pop them on a portal and hope for the best.

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  3. Jonnie

    Hang on, didn’t Faisal Butts B17ch boy Quirky gob off about this a while ago? Anyway, this lad here had a free afternoon or 7 to gather this useless bit of data, mixed it up with some inaccuracy on fees, a sprinkle of indignation and tossed it off as news……..it’s all goin’ on line innit,! – Jonnie

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    1. MF

      It’s not often I laugh “out loud” when reading Eye…. Nice one, Jonnie.

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