Estate agents are likely to have to make a wave of branch closures over the next 12 months, an agent has warned.
Mark Charter, from Oxford-based Carter Jonas, has predicted a “shake-out” in 2018.
His concerns were prompted by Countrywide’s recent profit warning, as well as figures from the Land Registry that indicate completions have dropped 30% year on year.
Charter said: “First-time buyers have the help-to-buy stimulus and Stamp Duty changes can also lead to them getting on the property ladder but there is an affordability issue further up the chain.
“People cannot afford to trade up and that is contributing to the stagnating market.”
He added that once families factored in all the expenses of moving — and he estimated that it could cost some families as much as £250,000 to trade up to a bigger house with a bigger garden — they were often deciding to stay put.
The removal of uncertainty over Brexit in 2019 could see the market pick up but in the meantime there could be pain for agents, he predicted.
He said: “The market is cyclical and once there is more certainty over Brexit in 2019 the market should start to pick up.
“But over the next 12 months there could be cutbacks at estate agents with some branch offices closing.”
However, in Yorkshire, Dacre, Son & Hartley has announced expansion with the opening of a new branch, in Elland.
It is headed up by franchisee Philip Garnett and will initially concentrate on sales before expanding into lettings.