Belfast Telegraph

Income continues to fall at estate agent Countrywide in line with market trends

Revenue at Countrywide slumped in the first quarter as a sluggish housing market continues to hit the firm.

The UK's biggest listed estate agency said total income fell 13% to £162 million in the three months to March 31 as it flagged a "continuation of the declining market trends".

This resulted in a 29% reduction in exchanges across the group on a like for like basis during the period.

Countrywide also said that its results were impacted by tough comparatives last year, when buyers rushed to pick up buy to let properties before an increase in stamp duty.

In March, the firm said the EU referendum had had a "sustained impact on sentiment", with fewer buyers and sellers coming to the market.

It also revealed that annual profits were cut in half last year and announced plans for a rights issue - amounting to 10% of its share capital - to strengthen the balance sheet.

Boss Alison Platt said: "In the first quarter of the year market trends were as anticipated.

"The snap general election called for 8 June 2017 is not expected to significantly alter the overall level of market transactions for 2017 and we still expect the market to be around 5% below 2016 levels.

"Our financial performance has been consistent with our plans and on this basis, we maintain our current financial outlook for the full year."