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Over 700 agency branches fail to reopen after spring lockdown

Some 713 estate agency branches have failed to reopen following the spring lockdown according to a business consultancy.

TwentyCi says that is the equivalent of a 3.5 per cent drop in the total number of High Street branches: it has no finer detail on the closures, so cannot be clear as to whether they are agencies closing completely or simply not operating - even in a restricted way - from branches.

In the same report, the consultancy shows that online and hybrid agents are still failing to get above eight per cent market share, despite a recent spurt in customers.


TwentyCi says online and hybrid agents have seen instructions grow by very nearly a half in just three months - a bigger jump than enjoyed by traditional agents - but even so they still have only 7.9 per cent market share.

In the sub-£200,000 house price sector they have 9.67 per cent share, while between £200,000 and £350,000 the share is 8.65 per cent. The £350,000 to £1m sector sees online and hybrids with a 6.44 per cent share, while that drops heavily to just 1.85 per cent of the sector at £1m and above.

However, hybrid penetration has risen across all regions except Scotland and Wales with significant growth being seen for the first time in London and the South East, up 28 and 15 per cent respectively. 

In the wider market surge seen in recent months, Twenty Ci says that in the third quarter of this year new instructions showed a 36 per cent spike compared to the same period of 2019 - and the increase in sales agreed was no less than 53 per cent. 

“Exchanges are currently down 40 per cent year-on-year, however; this is attributed to both lockdown and the current conveyancy emergency which sees demand for surveyors, conveyancing, search providers and mortgage underwriters outstrip demand causing significant delays” explains the consultancy.

Post-lockdown the largest increase in sales agreed is for three and four bedroom properties, up 24 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. 

Sales agreed have risen fastest in rural areas (up 47 per cent), compared to an increase of 19 per cent in urban areas; in terms of property type, sales of detached properties have increased most, by 48 per cent.  

The South West has recorded the highest rise in sales agreed - up 38 per cent - followed by the South East with a 33 per cent increase and the East of England achieving 31 per cent growth. 

By comparison, Twenty Ci says London has performed relatively poorly with Inner London achieving an increase of just four per cent and Outer London recording a six per cent rise. 

The consultancy also goes against the conventional wisdom that the stamp duty holiday has been the single biggest driver for demand in recent months in the sales market.

“The data indicates that the reopening of the property market in May was more of a catalyst to sales agreed than the stamp duty holiday. However, the Chancellor’s policy serves to maintain the buoyancy currently experienced” it says. 

“With low interest rates, furlough payments, stamp duty holiday and a significant shift in consumer preference driven by the pandemic it is unsurprising that we are experiencing levels of growth unseen for over a decade” explains Colin Bradshaw, chief customer officer at TwentyCi.

  • icon

    This drop in numbers will pale in to insignificance come next Spring. Start preparing now.


    Agreed. Although, the current market is being partly driven in certain regions by Covid. Therefore, certain areas may find there is still a decent demand next year, especially if we are still living with restrictions.

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    • 20 October 2020 14:02 PM

    'White flight' continues.
    None of those moving to rural areas are from diverse communities.

    People are getting out of diverse cities to establish themselves long term away from cities.
    With WFH now prevalent no need to be 20 mins journey from work.

    Less diverse areas equals better schools where you have a community like yours.

    Who wants to live in a crowded city anymore!?

    Let the diverse communities suffer that.

  • Hybrid Agent

    Extract from the book.
    “No.1 B*stard Estate Agent. (someone no longer in their original form) How to Evolve in Property Selling”
    “As I write the world is in the grip of the biggest viral pandemic in living memory and the resulting economic destruction. The outcome from this book may come to be a plan for business starting up again once the world’s economies are on a path to recovery following the shut-down of 2020. Many workers in all trades will have adapted to working from home and the cost benefits for business of not having to provide shops or office premises for its workers will be clear and create a landscape that is perfect for the next big rise of the Hybrid estate agent.
    Further to this the speed and ease at which some high street agents were able to have their negotiators and administrators switch to home working during the pandemic shut down indicates that the High Street estate agents have retained expensive retail premises long after these were no longer required and could have disposed of them much sooner. Holding on to the high street premises has been in order to try and justify taking thousands of pounds of unnecessary fees from their customers. Estate agent’s customers will now be more content than ever with their preferred local agent operating from home and paying a proportionally lower fee whilst receiving a more personalized and adaptable service.
    There are two definite approaches to starting as a ‘Hybrid’ estate agent as well as a plan for adaptation from an existing High Street chain or local independent estate agent. Your approach as with most things in life will be determined by your access to resources and the money you have available. Some of you will have aspirations of creating a billion-pound company others will be content having a successful local business that performs well and enables you to take a healthy wage whilst working flexibly from home and being your own boss. In terms of switching to new ways the national high street chain will have some major hurdles to get over in order to “re-model” whilst the local independent agency with a few offices, less so.…
    …No one needs a printed brochure and an expensive high street shop to sell their house and haven’t since the rise of the big online property portals twenty years ago.”


    That last sentence is just too hilarious.

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    • 20 October 2020 15:06 PM

    I love the online estate agency format as it has helped me to access some really juicy opportunities for my business as an investor/speculator/developer. The demise of the high street estate agent cannot come soon enough as far as I am concerned.
    As a buyer and dealing either directly with a DIY vendor (absolutely the best of all), I have been able to use all of the tricks in the book to acquire at the lowest possible price....the last minute chip just at the point of exchange with some hapless vendor who thinks he/she knows it all and so on.
    With the high street estate agent out of the way, I will be able to get my hands on some really good houses without risking gaining a reputation for being a “chipper”. In my experience over the past few years, most on line agents haven’t a clue when it comes to advising their clients.
    Bring it on!

    • 20 October 2020 16:14 PM

    I think you'll find that future vendors will be far from hapless.

    We don't need the likes of you.
    I am perfectly capable of selling my own properties.
    I do NOT need you or any other High St EA.
    I am able to list for free on RM via a commission free EA who does business differently.
    EA in the normal sense like you are an endangered species.
    The public simply doesn't need the likes of you anymore so no chance of chipping anything!!


    Put the crack pipe down Bro.

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    • 20 October 2020 16:19 PM

    EA consider your competitor EA
    Many vendors will start using commission free EA.

    Yes they do exist.
    Consider other ways of making money because I can assure you the public has had enough of paying EA commission.
    Time to wise up or be out of business

    • 20 October 2020 16:21 PM

    Sorry Paul but this is absolute nonsense.

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    • 20 October 2020 16:20 PM

    Sorry Paul but you appear to be under the impression I am an agent. Truth be known that I was once, many years ago until I saw the light and went into development/refurbishment etc.
    When it comes to selling my properties, I use whoever I think is going to be best able to do the job and look after my interests. I would never use the listing agencies as they are a total waste of money. The local agent is usually the best in my experience.

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    • 20 October 2020 17:30 PM

    Err! You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

    I can list for FREE on RM with free photos and floor plan.
    I don't pay any commission for a sale.
    What makes you think that a listing by you on RM would be any better than my commission free EA RM listing!!!!!????

    All I need is a listing.
    I will do the negotiating for sale.
    I don't need any jumped up commission based EA telling me a sale price.

    As a LL I am perfectly capable of setting my rents.

    It really isn't too much of a stretch to set my sale price.

    I can sell a car at my own price as I have done many times.
    No car dealer required.

    You are sadly deluded if you believe vendors need or even require commission based EA.

    Wake up smell the coffee!

    • 20 October 2020 18:25 PM



    Same old b$lls$it Paul, give us a link or pipe down with this nonsense. It doesn't exist.

  • Jill Redmayne

    Fortunately our clients prefer personal service to list, organise, host viewings and to progress the sale to completion.
    Our office has sold properties without listing on Rightmove with our own client base.We achieve a higher sale price than our competitors.
    Customers have a choice to chose who they want.

    • 20 October 2020 21:22 PM

    I would NEVER use you to sell any of my properties.
    I want my properties exposed to the full market not just your preferred contacts.

    Only by exposing my properties to the FULL market will I know that I have achieved best market price.
    I don't need a commission based EA to do this as I can achieve full market exposure by listing with free.co.uk on RM.
    Your contacts would presumably see the same listing as others.
    They could then compete with others to buy my property!

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    • 20 October 2020 21:30 PM


    So you are calling me a liar!?

    With attitudes like that you deserve all that will happen to you.

    Free RM listing with a commission free EA listing has just destroyed your commission based business model.

    Of course there will still be vendors who need hand holding and are content to pay commission but I am not one of those.
    So commission based EA will still exist but there will ve much reduced business that way once the General public realise they can list for free
    Off you go to


    There you will have the evidence.
    I have no current property listing with them as I am currently letting.

    When I decide to sell everything is already set up to list.
    I just have to activate the RM listing.

    You say the possibility doesn't exist.
    Ever considered you might be WRONG!!


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