LSL Property Services sold its entire shareholding in Zoopla in the second half of 2016 to shelter from a housing market slowdown it blamed on Brexit.
The group, which owns YourMove, Reeds Rains and Marsh Parsons, saw underlying profit for the year fell by 19% to £34.6m – and so in the second half of the year it sold £32.9m of Zoopla shares “to reduce corporate indebtedness”
Before the 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced on 1 April the group saw house purchase approvals increase by 16.5% from the first quarter of 2015.
However following the vote to leave the European Union on 23 June year-on-year house purchase approvals fell by 12.4% in the third quarter and 4.8% in the fourth quarter.
Ian Crabb, chief executive of LSL Property Services, said: “Consumer confidence was impacted.
“The second half [of the year] impact on market transactions was more pronounced in London and the South East.
“Market transactions are estimated to have fallen in prime Central London areas by between 20% to 40% in the third quarter 2016, dependent on the postcode.”
The group increased group operating profit by 58% to £65.4m in 2016.
Simon Embley, the group’s chairman, said: “The group reacted decisively to the changing market conditions in the second half by taking selective cost measures and strengthening the balance sheet.”
LSL employs 4,990 people in the UK in surveying, estate agency and mortgages.