Countrywide remains the UK’s largest agent by inventory, but only just, as it has Connells breathing down its neck. Connells has slightly fewer properties than Countrywide but more under offer, as measured on one day earlier this month.
Meanwhile Purplebricks’ claim to be the UK’s third largest estate agent by inventory, overtaking the likes of LSL, has been borne out by the new report for investors from Jefferies. The report also says that Purplebricks, measured on the same day, had nine out of ten of its listings under offer.
The report – published last week and which specifically looks at portal juggling – says that Countrywide and Connells had a near-identical inventory as at March 3.
Countrywide had 18,255 properties and Connells had 18,027.
They also had very similar ratios of sales agreed to listings, with Connells just ahead at 62.3% compared with Countrywide’s 60.2%.
While Purplebricks had a significantly smaller inventory, at 10,170, it was nevertheless the third largest by some margin – ahead of both LSL and Spicerhaart.
Purplebricks also had a much higher sales agreed to listing ratio, at 89.5%, than any of the high street firms.
“On this measure, Purplebricks is the leading agent,” says the report by analyst Anthony Codling.
By numbers, Connells had the most properties under offer as at March 3, with 11,222; Countrywide had the second most with 10,977; and not too far behind was Purplebricks with 9,101.
The firm with the second highest ratio of sales agreed to listings was the Property Franchise Group – which includes Martin & Co – at 83.6%.
However, the Property Franchise Group’s portfolio was far smaller, at 3,977.
Online agent YOPA had a tiny portfolio of just 846 homes, but a sales agreed to listing percentage of 83.1%.
In terms of inventory LSL had 7,723 properties (sales agreed to listing ratio of 50.6%), and Spicerhaart had 7,020 (59.9% ratio).
Foxtons’ portfolio stood at 3,948 with a 48.8% ratio.
The league table also shows just how decisively Purplebricks has overtaken the other online agents, with the gap looking unbreachable.
Housesimple had 1,581 properties with 49.5% under offer and eMoov had 1,084 with 61.7% under offer. Tepilo, YOPA, House Network, Hatched and easproperty all had under 1,000.
The report notes that “when assessing property statistics, the practice of portal juggling will be hard to rule out completely”.
Elsewhere in the report, it cites 50 properties which it says has been juggled the most, together with the agents. The property claimed to be juggled the most – 52 times – had as its agent a brand of a high street agent.
Most of the top 50 juggles were allegedly by high street agents, with a dozen by online firms.
However, says the report, while hybrid agents have an estimated 4% market share, “portal juggling is more prevalent in the hybrid space than in the traditional market”.
It says that ten hybrid agents juggled 3,593 properties between them, but names a high street agent as being the most prolific juggler.
The report, for institutional investors and using data supplied by Rummage4 and to a lesser extent Rightmove, could be seen publicly online last week.
All the figures quoted in terms of overall numbers of property per agent and sales agreed are set to be challenged, with a second report by Jefferies due to follow.
At least one agent is known to have challenged their listing in the ‘top 50’ juggles, blaming their software, according to Rummage’s Robert May.
Industry regulator NTSEAT has warned that portal juggling is illegal and could result in prosecution.
Rightmove has introduced a 14-week rule which prevents properties being re-listed within that time period.
A Zoopla spokesperson told EYE: “We have always had extensive automated rules in place for both sales and rental listings that require them to be off the market for an extended period of time before they can be re-listed as new.
“This is precisely to prevent this type of practice by a limited number of agents.
“Where any agent deliberately attempts to circumvent these processes and manipulate their listings to mislead consumers, we have a dedicated compliance team whose job it is to identify these rogue agents and remove them permanently from our platform. We take this issue very seriously and Zoopla has led the way in providing accurate and transparent data to consumers to help them make smarter property decisions.”