Sharp rise in estate agent numbers sees competition soar

There has been a notable increase in the number of estate agents over the past 12 months, according to new research.

Nested analysed the number of estate agents across 21 major cities in Britain and found that the volume of agents operating within the sector has increased by 7.1% on this time last year.

Bristol has seen the biggest uplift, with 16% annual increase in the number of agents operating within the city, whilst Bournemouth (13%), Southampton (11%), Leeds (11%) and Sheffield (10%) have also seen an increase of more than 10%.

Just two cities have seen a decline in the number of agents, Portsmouth (-13%) and Aberdeen (-8%).

Nested also analysed the number of properties listed on the current market in each city and what this equates to based on an average number of listings per agent.

The study found that across these 21 major cities, there is an average of 23 properties listed on the market for every one agent, down from 26 per agent this time last year.

Leeds has seen the greatest decline in potential estate agency profitability, with nine fewer homes listed per agent versus this time last year.

Aberdeen (+5), Leicester (+2) and Edinburgh (+1) have all seen an increase in the number of homes listed per agent.

Despite seeing an annual drop of two listings per agent, Liverpool remains the most potentially lucrative market, with 39 properties listed on the market for every one estate agent.

At the other end of the table, Cambridge is home to the fiercest level of competition, with just 12 properties listed for every one agent in the area.

The head of commercial at Nested, Alice Bullard, commented: “While the market has been running red hot pretty much since it reopened at the start of last year, the number of estate agents working to facilitate this heightened demand has also increased quite considerably.

“This means more competition and a lower number of homes per agent on average, which inevitably results in a drop in revenue for those who can’t differentiate themselves from the rest of the market.

“For those big brand names with a hefty wage bill and multiple branches to support, this could spell trouble, particularly in the cities that have seen the biggest increase in competition.

“However, those that have made the choice to follow the self-employed route with the support of a trusted brand are far better placed to negotiate a more competitive marketplace.”

Table shows the annual change in the number of estate agents in each city, the average listings per agent in each city and the annual change in listings per agent in each city
Location Number of Estate Agents – Annual change (%) Average Poperty Listings per Agent Annual Change %
Aberdeen -8% 18 5
Birmingham 6% 27 -1
Bournemouth 13% 21 -5
Bristol 16% 20 -2
Cambridge 6% 12 -3
Cardiff 6% 27 0
Edinburgh 5% 16 1
Glasgow 4% 18 -3
Leeds 11% 27 -9
Leicester 3% 18 2
Liverpool 6% 39 -2
London 8% 22 -2
Manchester 8% 20 -1
Newcastle 1% 20 -5
Nottingham 2% 31 -4
Oxford 2% 15 -3
Plymouth 8% 32 -7
Portsmouth -13% 26 -5
Sheffield 10% 29 -7
Southampton 11% 20 -4
Swansea 1% 27 -3
All 7% 23 -3
Data sourced from Zoopla (07/10/2021)


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  1. AlwaysAnAgent

    Alice Bull seems to have missed out a vital statistic – what is the average number of properties currently on offer by a Nested Agent? She says the average number of listings across 21 major cities is 23 properties per agent. Nested is completely invisible by comparison.

    I suspect that Nested agents are busy handling the one or two properties they have managed to grab hold of on multi agency. It must be a real scrap for survival at the bottom of the sector.

  2. MrSmith78

    If Foxtons Chelsea have 50 properties and Mr Bespoke exp has 0, does that mean the average agent has 25 properties? 2 agents/50 properties?

    Surely that’s quite misleading isn’t it? Or can someone explain how this survey was carried out?


    1. Mrlondon52

      That’s how averages work. The mean average can often be incredibly misleading for the reason you specify, whether on the pages of PIE or elsewhere.

  3. bestandfinal51

    If ever an article was drafted to promote a self gratifying agenda, this is it.

    Given Alice Bullard has made several assumptions in her summing up, relating to who will or will not be struggling, its only fair to assume she currently has far too much time on her hands?


  4. skipdale

    By next spring these percentages will have come back up a tad as these ‘new’ agents find out that the boom period has slowed down considerably, and that there are not enough properties to sustain a decent income / profit for everyone. If you have not got enough fat on your back it will be a tough winter.

  5. Another Agent

    Ha Ha. When will PIE stop pushing advertorials masquerading as genuine interest content on us? Alice is truly living in Wonderland when it comes to promoting the self employed route using these statistics as the panacea. When she says ‘negotiate a more competitive marketplace’ I think it was a typo…..should have said ‘fees’ as that’s where this is going.

  6. PeeBee

    So – let’s be real here.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with increasing Agent numbers… simply that the number of Agents advertising on Zoopla has increased.
    Thanks for yet another insight into the world of PR puffery and shocking use of cr@p statistics, EYE.

  7. PeeBee

    “Data sourced from Zoopla (07/10/2021)”  
    Okay… here you go.  In my little patch of the nation (Newcastle upon Tyne), Zoopla say there are currently 109 Agents listed – 86 if you exclude Letting and Commercial**.  Ms Bullard’s “research” shows a 1% increase YoY – meaning that an additional 1.1 Agents (or 0.86) must have opened their doors in the stated location.  
    Included in this number are several Agents whose address includes the city but are based several miles away in places such as Gateshead, North and South Shields.  The list is therefore starting to look a tad inaccurate.  
    But… if distance from your property isn’t a problem and you’re looking for  “Estate agents and letting agents in Newcastle Upon Tyne” you could always try one of these – also listed on the portal for this location:
    William H Brown – Harwich
    or what about this bunch – all located in the jolly town of Clacton on Sea
    Bairstow Eves – Clacton on Sea (Sales)
    Bairstow Eves – Clacton on Sea (Lettings)
    Leaders – Clacton on Sea
    Mike Vincent & Son
    Palmer & Partners
    William H Brown – Clacton on Sea
    Double Bricks
    Peagrams Estate Agency
    Stoneridge Estates  
    Now of course I don’t know whether these Agents were included in the list last year or not – but that’s not the point.  The point is that the source of the “research” is fatally flawed… sadly a common trait in “articles” to grace the pages of EYE these days – and something Frau Renshaw would have been highlighting while ripping these pieces of MDT to shreds.  
    A small piece of advice for Ms Bullard… Perhaps she should look at the “research” she has the misfortune of having her and her company’s name associated with before it is hawked around to meet someone’s quota for column inches to brag about.
    ** the numbers I have checked today (same source as that used in the above) suggest that for Newcastle, ALL Agent types have been counted, but only Sales properties – again indicating the figures in this article be somewhat questionable.

  8. WiltsAgent

    Given Saudi Arabia are comiing to Toon we’ll all be opening on your patch.

    1. PeeBee

      LOL WilstAgent!  I haven’t said this for a while –





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