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Estate agency businesses on the rise despite branch closures - research

Branches may be closing but the number of estate agency businesses has increased by 2% across the UK over the past year alone and by 20% over the past five years.

Agency comparison website GetAgent.co.uk has analysed the number of VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises in the estate agency sector operating in the UK since 2018 to see how the number has changed over time, and which regions of the country have seen agent numbers rise and fall to the greatest extent. 

The analysis of historic ONS data shows that last year, there were 24,965 estate agencies operating in the UK. 


This marks an increase of 20% since 2018 when the number of agencies sat at 20,720. It is also an annual increase of 2% compared with 2022’s total of 24,500.

The largest increase was in Scotland and the North East. Since 2018, where both regions have seen agency numbers grow by a quarter (25%). The West Midlands and North West have both seen numbers rise by 23%; while London and the East of England have each reported a 23% increase. 

As for growth in the past year alone, the East of England and the North East lead the way, both seeing agency numbers rise by 3% between 2022 and 2023. This is followed by London, the South West, North West, and South East which has all seen annual growth of 2%. 

The analysis suggests the increasing popularity of the self-employed model is a factor driving a strengthening estate agency sector less reliant on high-street offices.

When it comes to the property markets with the most estate agencies in the current market, London ranks top. Almost a third of all UK agencies (29%) are currently located in London, while 15% are in the South East and 10% are in the East of England. 

Colby Short, chief executive of GetAgent, said:  “We may have seen a decline in branch numbers over the last year and there’s no doubt that the growing traction of the self-employed model will have contributed to this. However, it’s a fairly typical occurrence to streamline such overheads in quieter market periods when the economy isn’t firing on all cylinders and, actually, it’s important to note that these closures were largely offset by new branches opening. 

“In fact, despite a challenging year, we’ve actually seen the number of operational estate agency businesses climb, which is very positive news for the industry and suggests that there is an underlying confidence in the market heading into 2024.

“Of course, it does mean there will be added competition requiring agents to work all the harder to win business. But, competition is competition at the end of the day, and whether it be from hybrid, online or self-employed agencies, the nation’s very best high-street businesses will be relishing the opportunity to sharpen their steel in what is looking like an increasingly busy market."


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