Sign of the Times?

Uxbridge Road estate agent shuts up shop as think-tank warns of housing job losses

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A Shepherd’s Bush estate agent has closed down, just as a leading think-tank warned that 15,000 estate agents could lose their jobs this year due to the slowdown in the housing market.

AOL Estates on Uxbridge Road, which covered sales and lettings in Shepherd’s Bush, White City, Hammersmith, Acton and West Kensington, disappeared last week and is now an empty shell.

The shop vanished a few days before the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) published research suggesting that, with the rise in the cost of mortgages and a reduction in the number of new mortgage approvals, 5% of those working in the real estate sector could lose their jobs.

“Real estate is among the first to face the economic downturn,” the CEBR's Jorg Radeke said.

In a stark warning, the think-tank estimated that up to 40,000 jobs could go in the sector as a whole, including lawyers, accountants, architects and marketing professionals. 

Paul Jorgensen, of Uxbridge Road estate agency Jorgensen Turner, said the larger agencies were likely to be the worst affected: “In terms of big corporates, there are redundancies because their overheads are higher,” he said. “We (smaller estate agencies) can be more flexible in terms of cost.”

Jorgensen, whose business is just a few doors down from AOL Estates, said his neighbour’s closure was partly a sign of the times, but that there were probably other factors involved: “I think they had made the decision to close about 18 months ago,” he said.

“I doubt other estate agents will disappear,” he added. We’re still busy with viewings and we’re getting offers. Lettings are also strong and rents are increasing all the time.”

He said the regeneration of the whole of the Shepherd’s Bush area was a pull-factor for potential buyers. “People can see the new shopping centre is coming, the Green is going to be revamped, there’s going to be a new train station, the Tube station is being rebuilt. That encourages people to come here,” he said.

However, he added a note of caution: “I think the market will settle but it’s not likely to bounce back in the next 18 months,” he said.

We were unable to contact anybody from AOL Estates for comment.


10 June 2008