Property portal Zoopla reported that agency numbers have started to pick up again.
It says that it had a net increase of 213 new branches since its last trading update in April.
Analysts at the bank that advised Zoopla on its stock market debut last year, Jeffries, made a statement: “In our view, the net growth and reduced churn of agency branches demonstrates that those that left the platform to join OnTheMarket [OTM] have found it wanting, despite the relaxation of the one other portal rule.
“Over the next 12 months, we expect many of the 3,000 or so Zoopla leavers to return.”1
Despite Jeffries’ claim, OTM revealed that the one other portal rule has not been relaxed. Zoopla’s own statement does not reference OTM.
Zoopla’s Trading Update to the City
Another analyst, William Packer, of Exane BNP Paribas, says that although Zoopla has reported a return to agency growth of 1%, membership is still 24% below record highs. He also described traffic growth as “tepid” and said that the client loss since quarter three (Q3) last year and loss of traffic share is “challenging.”1
Zoopla’s statement claimed that its total UK agency membership at the end of July was 12,556, up from April’s figure but down from 16,261 a year ago.
Total Zoopla membership is now 16,131, including 2,672 developers, 684 overseas and 219 commercial.
In its trading update to the City, Zoopla reported that UK agency churn is “returning towards more normal historic levels and an increase in the number of new and returning member inquiries.”
It is states that its listings inventory has continued to expand, from 828,000 to 882,000 properties.
Traffic was also strong, with 45.6m average monthly visits between 1st April and 31st July.
The update also said that Zoopla is sending “record numbers of appraisal leads to members, up 103% over the same period last year and helping our members win more business.”
Zoopla claims that after acquiring uSwitch on 1st June, it is trading well.
Zoopla says that its founder, Alex Chesterman, is committed to continue leading the group in the long term, “working to achieve the significant long-term growth potential of the Group.”
Additionally, it says that the board “is proposing some changes to Alex’s remuneration, principally the introduction of a Value Creation Plan, in order to appropriately incentivise and reward his continued substantial contribution to the performance of the Group.”
A general meeting of shareholders must approve this proposal.
The update continues, stating that Chesterman has “further been granted authority by the Chairman to sell up to a maximum of 4.25m shares, representing c.1% of the Group’s issued share capital, over the coming months to settle personal tax and other liabilities.”1
The balance of his shares will be locked up until 23rd June 2016, the second anniversary of Zoopla’s float on the stock exchange.
In May, Zoopla revealed its first results since the launch of OTM, stating that it had lost 23% of its UK agency members as of 31st March.
At that time, there were 12,449 member agents, down from 16,261 the previous year.
It also announced that it lost a further 106 agents in April. However, this recent update highlights promising gains, but the number is still lower than last year’s figures.
Last month, Rightmove reported a rise in agent numbers when it revealed record results to the City, with a growth in total customer numbers, to 19,590 and agency levels up 2% in the first half of this year.