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Countrywide profits set to fall amid lack of properties on the market

Estate agents Countrywide has warned full-year profits are likely to fall year-on-year as it blamed a lack of properties being put on the market.

Operating profits for the nine months to September were down 11% on the same period last year and full-year profits are likely to fall short of its 2014 total of £121.1 million, it said.

The UK's largest estate agents also warned that sales volumes for the year would be "at least 5%" below last year at around 950,000, while next year would see "modest" transaction growth.

The group pointed to a significant fall in the number of homes coming to the market and added that changes to stamp duty had constrained moves at the upper end of the market.

Chief executive Alison Platt said: "Against the current backdrop of less than expected residential volumes, group EBITDA for the nine months to September 30 was 11% below last year.

"While we anticipate modest year-on-year recovery in Q4, overall we anticipate our EBITDA for the full year will be less than the £121.1 million achieved in 2014, which was the most profitable year in the group's history.

"The economic backdrop in the UK coupled with improving consumer confidence point to modest transaction growth in 2016. With a strong residential lettings sector now forming a permanent part of the housing market, and with more customers than ever choosing to arrange mortgages through intermediaries, the outlook for 2016 is a positive one for Countrywide.

"Our intent is to increase our resilience to the sales cycle volatility and broaden the group's business to deliver a strong future and sustainable long-term value for our shareholders.

"Whilst there is much to do to drive that both organically and through acquisition, I am confident that the start we have made will yield positive results in the near future."

For shareholders, normal dividends will remain unchanged at 35%-45% of underlying profit after tax, it said. For the financial year ending December 31, the board intends to maintain the total ordinary dividend at the previous year's level of 15p per share.


From Belfast Telegraph