Estate agent warns of slowdown

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A profits warning by estate agent Foxtons provided more firm evidence today that the capital’s property market is cooling.

The chain, which has more than 50 branches, reported a “sharp and recent slowing of volumes” in London property sales following an exceptionally strong performance in the nine months to June.

It blamed the slowdown on political and economic uncertainty in the UK and Europe, tighter mortgage lending markets and mismatches between the price expectations of buyers and sellers.

Property sales commissions at Foxtons were £16.4m in the quarter to September 30, a fall of 7.8 per cent on a year earlier as a reduction in sales volumes more than offset price increases.

In contrast, the figure for the first nine months of the company’s financial year to September 30 was 16.9 per cent higher at £54.1m after volumes reached their highest level since 2007 earlier in the period.

The company now expects that market volumes in the second half of its financial year will be significantly below levels seen a year earlier and that underlying earnings will be down on the £49.6m achieved a year ago.