A total of 1,906 letting agent branches shut up shop last year, according to TwentyCi, which says that although closures were offset by new openings, 2023 ended with 659 fewer branches on the high street.
New data reveals that there were 14,544 active lettings branches in the UK in Q4 2023, which Katy Billany, executive director of TwentyEA, part of the TwentyCi Group, says is the first time since the pandemic that the industry has experienced such a significant increase in branch closures.
“The closures are largely related to the general uncertainty surrounding the property market and the wider economy throughout 2023,” she explains. "Fewer tenancies have been agreed due to the shortage of lettings stock.”
There are now 15,401 active sales branches in the UK – a reduction of 1,154 branches. Billany says agency brands that had the highest volume of net closures were overrepresented by franchise businesses; six out of the top ten sales estate agent brands with the highest net closure rates all had franchise elements to their businesses.
She adds: “It is also perhaps not a coincidence that the closures overlap with the rise of self-employed agents (those without a physical branch, usually working under an umbrella brand such as eXp, Keller Williams or iAD), who collectively saw their market share increase by 16% throughout 2023.”
The growth of the self-employed agent continues to gain momentum, says TwentyCi, and accounted for nearly 13% of all new instructions in Q4 2023 within the online and hybrid agent category.