Zoopla has confirmed that it is seeing a contraction in agents’ membership and is expecting to see more branch closures.
CEO Charlie Bryant said: “I wouldn’t call it a tidal wave yet, but we are seeing a decline in the order of a single figure percentage.
“Smaller branches are closing because they are unprofitable.
“In other cases, larger agents are deciding as policy to shut some offices.
“And in other cases, local agents are seizing opportunities to buy out their competition.
“Agents are struggling right now and it is a really tough environment.
“That said, the pattern is massively regional, and there are areas which are still buoyant.
“Generally, though, I think it will be very tough for agents for a while. Inevitably and sadly, there will be more branch closures.”
Bryant said that online agents are not proving immune: “We are seeing a slowdown in the listings of online agents. They are also being impacted.”
He said that rental supply is down, according to Zoopla listings, and that with landlords worried by uncertainty, they are no longer buying – which “is bad news for the sales sector because it is taking a big chunk of buyer demand out of the market”.
Bryant said that landlords are particularly concerned as to possible changes to Stamp Duty, as well as taxes and what will happen with rents.
However, he revealed that he has recently added three more rental properties to his own portfolio.
He said: “They are new properties in Liverpool, which I barely know, but where yields are double those I get for my two properties in London.
“And yes, I am using an agent. As a landlord, it would be foolhardy not to.”