After its branches were all closed from March 23 when England went into lockdown up until the end of May, the London-focused estate agent reported a 22% decline in revenue to £40.4mln for the six months to end-June.
The steepest declines were in house sales, which fell by 28% to £11.1mln, with a fall of 61% over the course of April and May.
Lettings declined 21% to £25.7m and mortgage broking fell 9% to £3.6m.
“Part of the strategic rationale for shifting the group’s focus towards lettings over recent years was driven by the market’s inherent resilience and strong structural drivers of demand,” Foxtons said, with this proving vital during the pandemic.
Since the group’s branches were reopened on 1 June, lettings commissions were down 12% in June and down 3% in July against the prior year, while sales commissions were down 44% and 32% in June and July respectively.
The sales pipeline has strengthened since re-opening and sales commissions were said to be “broadly in line with last year”, with short-term sales activity further supported by the government’s stamp duty relief from 8 July.
“Whilst there continues to be uncertainty over the speed of recovery as tenants remain cautious,” the company said, though it took solace from “forward looking metrics [indicating] new tenancy volumes will continue to build”.
Lettings stock levels are approximately 50% above the same period last year ahead of what would normally be the third-quarter peak rental season, though demand from students and corporate relocations is unlikely to be as strong this year because of COVID-19 disruption.
Further on the outlook, chief executive Nic Budden said: “The group has so far been able to weather the severe disruption to trading caused by the lockdown.
“We are pleased with the way the business and, in particular, our employees have dealt with the difficult conditions of the last few months.”
He added: “We remain cautious about the impact COVID-19 will have on the London residential sales and lettings markets in the months to come, but we are well-prepared both to deal with any further COVID-19 restrictions should they arise and also to capitalise on any market recovery.”
Net cash ended the period at £40.5mln, boosted by April’s £22mln equity placing, £4.3mln of deferred lease payments and £3.5mln of deferred VAT payments, both of which will be paid in the coming months.
Foxtons shares were up 2% to 38p by noon on Tuesday.
Published at Tue, 28 Jul 2020 11:15:00 +0000-Foxtons remains cautious of coronavirus impact on London housing sales and lettings