A trading statement from Foxtons this morning provides a rare piece of good news for the troubled London agency.
It says business activity significantly increased in the third quarter of the year with valuations, instructions, applicant numbers and viewings all considerably up on this stage of 2019 across both sales and lettings.
However, despite that, group revenue for the period was £28.5m, down 10 per cent on the comparable quarter of 2019.
Over the first nine months of this year group revenue was £68.9m, down 18 per cent on the year before.
Nic Budden, Foxtons chief executive, says: "Foxtons has made good progress in the third quarter, during which we were able to capitalise on increased levels of market activity, driven by the decision to build back capacity soon after the lockdown ended.
“We have successfully re-built the sales commission pipeline to its highest level in three years, delivered a resilient lettings performance and progressed our lettings book acquisition strategy.
“Although the London residential market has gained momentum, we remain cautious as economic uncertainty causes more sales transactions to fall through and is putting downward pressure on rents. During these uncertain conditions, the energy and commitment of our people to go the extra mile enables us to deliver exceptional customer service whilst keeping our customers and employees safe."
On the sales market, this morning's statement says: "Revenue for the quarter was £6.9m, down 18 per cent [on 2019] due to depressed levels of exchanges, a hangover from the spring lockdown. However, sales activity, including the number of instructions and number of offers accepted, has been significantly higher than the same period last year, driven by pent-up demand post lockdown and Stamp Duty relief. This started to convert into revenues in September, which were up nine per cent on prior year.
"At the end of the quarter, the sales commission pipeline, based on the value of properties 'under offer', was up around 30 per cent on the same time last year. However, as has been widely publicised, transactions are taking longer to move through to exchange and the economic uncertainty is also driving higher than normal transaction fall-through rates."