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Thousands of agency branches shut amid self-employed shift

A shift towards self-employed estate agency models has contributed to a decline in estate agency branches, research suggests.

Analysis by property data firm TwentyCi has revealed that a total of 2,893 estate agent sales branches closed in 2023 with an additional 1,906 lettings branches ceasing to operate.

Many of the closures were offset by new branch openings throughout the year but by the end of 2023, there were still 1,154 fewer sales branches and 659 fewer lettings branches. 
As of the end of 2023, there were 15,401 active sales branches in the UK and 14,544 active lettings branches.  


The highest volume of net closures were among franchise businesses while some of this shift has been attributed to the rise of self-employed models, which saw their market share rise by 16% during 2023.

However, the market share of online and hybrid models continued to fall last year, making up just 5.5% of exchanges and declining from 6.9% in 2022.
This figure continues to trend lower since a high of 8.2% in 2019.

The largest agents in this category are Yopa, Purplebricks and eXp, representing more than 70% of all activity. 

TwentyCi said: “One might have anticipated that a slowing property market and squeezed wallets would have sent sellers scrambling for the most cost-effective Estate Agent fee.

"Surprisingly this wasn’t the case. Instead, we saw cautious buyers embrace the expertise of traditional Estate Agents during such a turbulent economy, and thus market share for online/hybrid agents fell.”

Overall, TwentCi said it saw 1.06m sales agreed last year, down 12% annually.
Time to sell rose to 62 days in 2023 while time to complete was 123 days.

On average, sellers across the UK achieved 96.6% of their original asking price, a decrease from the 99.4% achieved in 2022.

Price alterations were up 66% compared with 2022 as sellers became more realistic with their expectations, TwentyCi said.

Katy Billany, executive director of TwentyEA, part of the TwentyCi Group said: “Last year was the first time since the pandemic that the industry experienced such a significant increase in branch closures.  

“On the whole, the closures are largely related to the general uncertainty surrounding the property market and the wider economy throughout 2023. Fewer properties have been sold and fewer tenancies agreed due to the shortage of lettings stock”

  • Richard Copus

    The graph collated by Twentysomething and sent to other publications yesterday showed that new offices opening were two thirds of the amount closed which means a net closure of around 1,800 rather than the almost 5,000 publicised and illustrates healthy demand for a high street presence in a very bad year. New branch openings are mentioned in half a sentence in this article but the question has to be asked: Why wasn't the graph included in EAT's article here. Was it because Twentysomething's figures were challenged yesterday and it might detract from the point they are trying to make?

  • icon

    With all these bank closures what a brilliant time to increase your marketing by taking a huge advert in the High St. By this i mean a huge advertising fascia and behind the fascia, i regard the premises that come with it as free. Online only agents are doomed it tell you, dooooooomed.


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