An independent lettings firm has made an unusual announcement, openly saying that it will buy a Countrywide brand in the event of a sell-off or the collapse of its parent company.
Harry Conti and Marcus Askam-Yates, who run Student Housing in Lincoln, say that they have the ‘green light’ from bankers to make the purchase of Lighthouse Property Services.
The pair have also written to Countrywide, making it aware of their interest in acquiring Lighthouse, but say they have not had a response.
Countrywide bought student-focused Lighthouse as part of a buying spree in 2011. It was established as an independent in 2000.
Conti, 26, and Askam-Yates, 28, are both former University of Lincoln students and set up their own business four years ago.
Like Lighthouse, Student Housing specialises in the student market. It currently provides accommodation for over 1,000 students in some 300 homes.
Conti said: “We’ve been looking at the market for some time, and while we are growing at a really fast rate, other letting agents are struggling.
“Now is the ideal time for us to expand by buying other letting agents.
“If you look at Countrywide, the company that owns Lighthouse Property Services in Lincoln, it has lost 97% of its share value in the last 12 months alone.
“Many industry experts believe Countrywide will not be around in the next few months.
“Several branches have closed and many senior managers have been laid off recently, so the company is clearly in a downward spiral.
“We’re worried about where this leaves landlords and students renting through companies like Lighthouse Property Services.
“What will happen to them if Countrywide is not trading in September when students return to university?
“We’ve sought finance to acquire the Lighthouse brand from Countrywide in the event of a collapse which will allow Student Housing to provide a seamless transition for students and landlords currently with Lighthouse.”
“By acquiring Lighthouse, we would be able to ensure that all tenants move into their accommodation as planned without disruption and landlords to continue to receive an income.”
However the pair admitted that purchasing Lighthouse is by no means certain, and that they are looking at other acquisition targets.
As well as its Lincoln office, Student Housing has recently opened an office in Nottingham.