New wave of estate agency closures
Jeff Prestridge, Mail on Sunday
18 May 2008, 1:39pm
Another big estate agency is embarking on a round of branch closures in response to the housing market slowdown and the credit crunch.
Reeds Rains, part of property group LSL that also owns the Your Move estate agency network, will confirm tomorrow that at least 15 of its 127 branches will be axed in the North-East and North-West.
Branches in Bradford and Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, and Lancaster and Wigan in Lancashire are among those that will be shut.
In Cheshire, High Street sites in Cheadle, Knutsford and Poynton will be closed and consolidated into one branch in Wilmslow.
Further evidence of the fragile state of the housing market was provided on Friday when HBoS announced the sale of its 13% stake in property website Rightmove for £59m.
HBoS was one of the four founding shareholders when Rightmove was launched eight years ago and its decision to offload its stake suggests the bank is gloomy about prospects.
Also on Friday, shares in upmarket estate agents Humberts were suspended amid uncertainty over its finances.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will tomorrow paint a dire picture of the housing market for the remainder of the year when it will say property transactions could fall by 40%.
None of Reeds Rains' executives was available for comment on Friday, but a spokeswoman confirmed that the company is currently consulting all employees affected by the changes. The closures will bring the number of branches shut this year by LSL past 45. Most so far have been concentrated on the Your Move network.
Other big estate agency networks to have closed branches recently include Countrywide and Spicerhaart.