Savills is the latest agency to warn about the possible threat of Coronavirus to its business activities and success this year.
In its preliminary final results for 2019, issued this morning – and showing a strong performance for the international property group – the company says: “It is difficult accurately to predict the full impact of this issue on our business for 2020 as a whole. However, given the nature of the real estate market, we would anticipate that any near term slowdown caused by sentiment and specific measures taken to combat COVID-19 would generally result in a temporary delay in activity rather than an absolute loss of business.”
It continues: “In Asia, particularly China, it is clear that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on transactional activity and may have a similar effect elsewhere, depending to an extent on the length and severity of each outbreak. Our focus is on the welfare of our staff and clients and we have instituted protective measures in locations potentially affected by this virus.”
The trading figures for the company – which has a vast commercial and international infrastructure as well as its UK resi sales and consultancy activities – show a successful 2019.
Today’s statement says: “Our UK residential business continued to perform well in challenging conditions for much of the year which saw the UK market volume of transactions with values greater than £1m declining by two per cent year-on-year. “Against this backdrop and buoyed by the clear General Election result in December, Savills UK Residential business performed well, growing revenue by six per cent year-on-year.”
The company also says it successfully acquired and integrated London agency Currells.
Countrywide’s share price fell by as much as 17 per cent at one point yesterday afternoon as investors assessed the latest pratfall by the company – the collapse of its bid to sell its commercial arm.
As we reported yesterday there was an announcement from Countrywide a few minutes before the Budget, prompting industry cynics to say that this was a classic example of attempting to bury bad news.
The announcement effectively admitted that its bid to sell Lambert Smith Hampton to Monaco-based John Bengt Moeller for £38m was dead in the water, with new buyers being sought.
The revelation was described on Twitter as a “shambles” by respected property commentator Peter Bill, the former editor of Estate Gazette.
In a brief trading update released at the same time Countrywide reported a £17m drop in revenues last year and revealed the tenant fees ban had cost it £12m.
Within a few minutes of the announcement the Countrywide share price plummeted from 265p to 220p; it recovered slightly during the afternoon to close at 232.4p, down well over nine per cent.
Nested is the latest online agency to base a marketing campaign around criticism of established estate agents.
In three 30-second TV ads it accuses established agencies of failing to give a complete service to their customers.
Instead it claims to be “unique” in supporting vendors both through the sale of their existing property and their purchase of a new one.
A statement issued to the press in support of the advertisements accuses High Street agencies of focussing “only on selling properties” and asking what it would be like if other professions did the same approach “and only did half a job.”
Despite the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, one of Nested’s advertisements features paramedics and an ambulance “with hilarious results” according to the press statement issued on behalf of the agency.
“Making the investment into producing an … advertising campaign has been a huge step for us at Nested, and we’re excited to see how the ads are received by consumers. They aim to highlight our novel and hassle-free approach to an archaic and fragmented industry” says Ben Bailey, head of brand and communications at Nested.
Almost exactly a year ago Nested, which offers vendors a form of guaranteed sale, laid off 20 per cent of its workforce because of a drop off in business according to a technology publication.
This was despite the fact that in 2018 Nested raised £120m in one funding round and £80m in another, as well as earlier funding when the company launched.
Nested operates in London only – although in 2017 it told Estate Agent Today that it hoped to expand to cover Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester the following year.