Number of estate agents in Islington up 26 per cent in a year
07:00 24 February 2016
Islington is in the midst of a housing boom, with the number of estate agents rising faster than in any other part of London outside Westminster. Sophie Inge asks what brings property firms to the borough
The number of estate agents in Islington has rocketed by 26 per cent in just 12 months, new figures reveal.
The borough is now home to 111 property firms, compared with 88 a year ago – more than any other London borough outside Westminster, which saw an increase of 27.4 per cent during that period.
Research by online-only estate agent HouseSimple found the number across the capital increased by a more modest 8.3 per cent last year – but that still works out as a new branch opening every 1.6 days.
The company’s CEO Alex Gosling said the rise was down to the surge in house prices.
“Islington continues to be a popular area with buyers, and sellers have taken advantage of rapid price rises,” he said.
“Over the past five years, average prices in Islington have risen almost 50 per cent, compared with half that in prime central London.
“With strong demand for property in the borough and rising property prices, it’s a fertile ground for high street estate agents.”
But he admitted smaller businesses would suffer as a result.
“Unfortunately, many high streets in London have become littered with estate agents trying to take advantage of a buoyant market,” he said.
“And it’s the independent shops that lose out as they struggle to afford the higher rents.”
Cllr Gary Poole, Labour councillor for St Mary’s ward, said Upper Street – which runs through his constituency – is already packed to capacity with property firms.
“While many estate agents in my ward are long established,” he told the Gazette, “you only need to stroll down Upper Street to see that we don’t really need any more.”
He added: “I’m proud that the council supports the local business community, including independent traders, and we all benefit from a variety of shops remaining available, adding to the character of the area.”
But with more and more estate agents flooding the high street, is there enough business to go round?
Paul Williams, head of Savills Islington in Upper Street – who has been an estate agent in the area since 1987 – is confident there is.
“Savills has been well established in Islington for more than 10 years,” he said. “Quality competition on the high street keeps the market place competitive, and is beneficial to buyers and sellers alike.”
Michael Chan, director of independent estate agents Bennett Mason, which has been based in Islingtonfor eight years, is less sure.
“It will mean more competition for us,” he said, “being a smaller local independent . It can be harder against the bigger corporate companies.”
So what is it about Islington that makes the area so desirable for buyers?
“Islington is a vibrant area with a good mix of various amenities and entertainment,” Mr Chan said.
“It has excellent transport links into the City and central London, providing many people with an easy commute to work.”
He added his main customers were families and young professionals.
“There are families moving into the area because of the various popular schools,” he said, “as well as the array of family amenities.
“There are also many young professionals thanks to the popular bars and restaurants in Upper Street, and the modern developments that have sprung up in the last few years.”