Murky Depths

News in London and beyond

Abbey Wood, Lewisham, Woolwich

UK’s biggest estate agent Countrywide continues to flounder

Sidcup branch recently closed

The UK’s largest estate agency group Countrywide – with many sub-brands operating in London – continues to flounder making further big loses and being fined for multiple breaches of anti-money laundering laws.

In south east London the group operate under the Mann brand with branches in Woolwich, Sidcup, Lewisham, Catford and Lee.

Losses last year totaled £218 million after a £207 million loss the year before. The share price has tanked from 599p in 2015 to less than 8p today.

They also operate using the Bairstone Eves brand with branches in Abbey Wood and Bromley, among others.

Countrywide saw the largest fine issued in the UK among agents for not adhering to money laundering rules.

There is speculation as to how long the company can limp on – which is shown in the struggling share price. Plans to shut hundreds of branches appear to be underway.

The company has charged excessive letting agent fees for years which could be a factor in turning customers away, and be a factor in the incoming ban beginning in less than two months.


  1. Charles Calthrop

    In isolation I’d rejoice; unfortunately it’s only a symptom of a wider malaise with the housing market as a whole and I’m sure Amazon will be on before long to sew up this market too.

  2. Aaron Fuller

    I’m conflicted about to make about this. Obviously I don’t want to see anyone losing their job. But if the lack of demand for estate agents is at least partly because of a fall in prices, which allows folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to, to buy somewhere EVENTUALLY, it’s difficult to know what is the right outcome.

  3. A better greenwich

    It is the market. In London till a couple a years ago when the market was still extremely pumped up…properties were selling themselves. Lota of Agents were hired cowboys too but good or bad they had not to do anything, just arranging for viewings schedule. Their effort was mainly in getting houses to be put in the market given the shortage ans massive demands. lots of people got the job and got commissions for “selling something” that was selling itself. The market slows down, the cake got super tiny and lots of agents with no skillset became useless and probably losing the job.

    It is the Market. When the bubble blows up.. who made money earlier just because of the wave..they are the first to suffer

  4. HK

    Great analysis!
    I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Truth is, property prices need to come down at least another 25-30% so it’s realistically affordable for your average person/family to buy a home to live in.
    I’m a free-market capitalist, but there should be regulation to stop foreign money coming in and buying the properties when they become relatively affordable, otherwise UK nationals will get priced out of the market again.

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