Countrywide sees earnings halve

Countrywide sees earnings halve

Countrywide has posted a 49 per cent drop in pre-tax earnings as the housing market continued to face challenges.

In a trading update for the year ended December 31, 2018, published this morning, the estate agent posted an Ebitda  (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, exceptional items) of £33m against last year's £65m.

Group income stood at £627m, down from £672m in 2017, while income from its financial services division was £84m, down 3 per cent on last year's £87m.

The group stated double digit income growth across the buy-to-let business, mortgage bureau and mortgage intelligence channels had been offset by a lower number of estate agency sales.

Countrywide considered its performance overall to have been "resilient", after it had entered the year on a 19 per cent shortfall in future fees from agreed sales.

Income in the sales and lettings business for 2018 was £329m, down from £361m the previous year. Whilst lettings income was flat year-on-year, this was offset by a 16 per cent decline in sales. 

Last August the company announced a strategy and turnaround plan. It cut back on industry expertise in sales and lettings in support of the growth of the register of properties available for sale.

In its trading statement, the group stated: "We are encouraged by the progress we have made in our strategy and turnaround plan and in the growth in the register and the pipeline in the UK. 

"Nevertheless, we remain cautious about the market outlook for 2019 and continue to closely monitor market conditions for any potential impact arising from the wider political and economic environment.

"We will be in a position to provide further guidance for 2019 with the release of our preliminary results on 7 March 2019."

Countrywide's B2B income was also down at £213m compared with £221m in 2017.

The group stated it had experienced a good performance in surveying and valuations, offset by less demand for new homes and a slower commercial transactional property market. 

Ancillary services income for each £1 of estate agency revenues for the year was 44p, up from 38p in 2017.