JD Wood confident of housing recovery

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The Independent Online

John D Wood, the upmarket estate agent, yesterday voiced "quiet confidence" in the likelihood of a housing market recovery, despite a 23 per cent fall in profits for the six months to the end of October last year.

The company announced that its pre-tax profits dropped to pounds 231,000 from pounds 301,000 in the same period in 1994. The fall came despite virtually unchanged turnover of pounds 3.65m over that period.

George Pope, Wood's joint-chairman, said: "Our turnover has gone a little bit down and our expenditure has risen slightly, which clearly affected our profits. But we feel these costs will be absorbed over the full year, so that overall expenditure should fall. As for the future, in the past year the housing market has been lambasted in the wake of an attack on the Government.

"We are now looking at a situation where interest rates are continuing to come down, there is a greater move towards ownership rather than renting and increasing numbers of people, including Halifax, are talking about how the market is getting better. We think things will improve in the coming year."

Wood's chain of agencies, nine in the central London area plus seven others mainly in the South-east, generally saw a buoyant market, he added.

"Demand for property in the better streets and squares of central London, in particular Kensington, Knightsbridge and Chelsea, has led to record prices over the last six months," said Ian Homersham, the other joint- chairman.

"Our lettings and management department has again produced a near 20 per cent increase in turnover.

"In the country, movement has been restricted by the lack of property coming onto the market as potential vendors await better circumstances. None the less, well-situated period houses continue to sell if correctly priced."