Shares in Britain’s biggest estate agency- seen as an indicator of the health of the residential property sector – rose by as much as 5.6 per cent at one point last week after it announced that it now expects pre-tax profit and other charges to reveal a “modest improvement” on its previous expectations.
In November, the company warned investors that it would not hit its full-year profit forecasts for 2015, after an expected post-election boost in the housing market failed to materialise.
But despite the upturn in profit forecast, Countrywide said that the future state of the housing market remained uncertain, particularly due to the hike in stamp duty on second homes, which is set to be introduced in April, not to mention Government plans to introduce less favourable tax relief for landlords – to be phased in over a four-year period from April 2017.
The company said: “It is too early to predict what the trend in residential transactions will show in 2016, although approved mortgage volumes including owner occupier in recent months have been ahead of the previous year, which is a positive indicator.”
Meanwhile, Countrywide has announced the acquisition of Lanes Land & New Homes, which covers mainly North London and Hertfordshire, providing a specialist service to small, medium and large housebuilders and developers across the region.
Lanes Land & New Homes, which will become part of Countrywide Residential Development, will continue to operate as normal under its existing name, managed by Managing Director, Mike Franklin.
Franklin said, ‘’With the Company’s expanding geographical coverage and extended range of specialist land and new homes activities, it makes perfect sense to link with a respected national brand to allow our land, sales and marketing teams to provide a wider service offering for clients right across the sector from bespoke operators to plc developers’.”
Commenting on the purchase, James Poynor, Group Residential Development Director for Countrywide, said, “We are absolutely delighted to further increase our residential development offering in the North London and Hertfordshire area with the acquisition of Lanes Land & New Homes.
“Their exceptional reputation with new homes developers naturally complements our focus to deliver a dedicated and tailored service to the residential development market.
“The acquisition of such an established land and new homes business further enhances our commitment to providing a truly market-leading service to developer clients.”