Branches may be closing but UK estate agency sector is growing


New research from estate agent comparison site,, reveals that while there may have been an increase in estate agency branch closures, the estate agency industry remains a prosperous and competitive one, with the number of estate agency businesses increasing by 2% across the UK over the past year alone and by 20% over the past five years. has analysed the number of VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises in the estate agency sector operating in the UK since 2018 to see how the number has changed over time, and which regions of the country have seen agent numbers rise and fall to the greatest extent.

The analysis of historic ONS data shows that last year (2023), there were 24,965 estate agencies operating in the UK. This marks an increase of 20% since 2018 when the number of agencies sat at 20,720. It is also an annual increase of 2% compared to 2022’s total of 24,500.

The estate agency industry has faced a number of challenges in recent years, including a prolonged period of political uncertainty caused by Brexit, the initial industry lockdown spurred by the Covid outbreak and, more recently, a cooling market caused by higher interest rates and wider economic instability.

But despite these challenging times, the sector has continued to go from strength to strength standing firm in the face of all that has been thrown at it. In fact, the analysis by GetAgent shows that in the past five years agency numbers have grown significantly across all regions of the UK.

The largest increase has been seen in Scotland and the North East. Since 2018, both regions have seen agency numbers grow by a quarter (25%). The West Midlands and North West have both seen numbers rise by 23%; while London and the East of England have each reported a 23% increase.

As for growth in the past year alone, the East of England and the North East lead the way, both seeing agency numbers rise by 3% between 2022 and 2023. This is followed by London, the South West, North West, and South East which has all seen annual growth of 2%.

This positive sector growth comes despite the fact that actual branch numbers have declined in the last year. The increasing popularity of the self-employed model is no doubt a factor driving a strengthening estate agency sector less reliant on high-street offices, with companies such as eXp UK starting to make real headway in the UK.

While the model may differ to traditional estate agency within the UK, industry growth is, of course, a positive for all agents operating within the market

When it comes to the property markets with the most estate agencies in the current market, London ranks top. Almost a third of all UK agencies (29%) are currently located in London, while 15% are in the South East and 10% are in the East of England.

Co-founder and CEO of, Colby Short, commented:

“We may have seen a decline in branch numbers over the last year and there’s no doubt that the growing traction of the self-employed model will have contributed to this. However, it’s a fairly typical occurrence to streamline such overheads in quieter market periods when the economy isn’t firing on all cylinders and, actually, it’s important to note that these closures were largely offset by new branches opening.

In fact, despite a challenging year, we’ve actually seen the number of operational estate agency businesses climb, which is very positive news for the industry and suggests that there is an underlying confidence in the market heading into 2024.

Of course, it does mean there will be added competition requiring agents to work all the harder to win business. But, competition is competition at the end of the day, and whether it be from hybrid, online or self-employed agencies, the nation’s very best high-street businesses will be relishing the opportunity to sharpen their steel in what is looking like an increasingly busy market.

It’s also fair to say the consumer is likely to prioritise an agent’s ability to sell their home quickly and for a fair price. While it won’t be the only criteria on which a seller bases their decision, it does help agents to refine their marketing communications and prioritise their key messaging.”