Countrywide has revealed that a day rarely passes without a letting agent getting in contact to sell the company their lettings book.
The admission has been made by its Managing Director Paul Creffield during a webcast with investors, one of whom asked him whether the tenant fees ban is likely to prompt independent agents to exit the sector in significant numbers.
Creffield said the ban, which is due to come into force on June 1st this year, was putting smaller letting agents under a lot of pressure because many are dependent on tenant fees for a majority of their income.
He also claimed that the exodus has already begun and that Rightmove’s recent results revealing a reduction in member agent numbers was proof of how much the looming tenant fees ban is denting agent confidence.
But during the webcast Executive Chairman Peter Long said independent agents are more resilient than many might assume, and that experts who have predicted a 50% cull of independent were wrong.
Countrywide also revealed during the presentation that it had introduced a ‘minimum cash fee’ system for branches, a reaction to the UK’s difficult sales market, and falling prices.
He also revealed that the company had no plans to close any branches for the moment, although a dedicated team was reviewing branch performance on a regular basis.
“Broadly we’re at the estate size that we’re comfortable with and we have no plans to close branches on massive scale,” said CFO Himanshu Raja.