PROPERTY website Rightmove said the housing market was now in the grips of a major downturn.
The company did post a profits rise of more than 50% for the past six months.
But company bosses warned today that they expected estate agents to leave the industry in greater numbers over the rest of this year.
The search engine company refused to predict the likely depth and length of the downturn, but said its service represented a cost- effective means of advertising for agents increasingly looking to reduce overheads.
Announcing results for the six months to June 30 Rightmove said overall membership grew 5% to 19,301, despite a 3% fall in the number of estate agents using its service to 11,984.
The biggest increase came from new homes developers, up 16% to 4,022, as firms bolstered their online marketing in a bid to shift properties.
Rightmove’s half-year revenues rose 49% to £37.8m, while operating profits were up 58% to £20.8m.
Managing director Ed Williams said it was likely that members were cutting back on print advertising in order to survive the property market downturn.
The news came only hours after upmarket property firm Savills said profits in its estate agency business have slumped 88% . Underlying pre-tax profits at the group’s core division fell to £2.5m during the six months to June 30, as against £20.9m the year before.