Survey reveals high number of estate agents in Tower Hamlets

The number of estate agents in Wapping High Street is often the subject of resident’s conversation, and new research by HouseSimple shows that there are 131 estate agents across Tower Hamlets.


There are over 2,660 estate agent branch offices across London. Tower Hamlets has the third highest number, only being outranked by Westminster with 179 and Wandsworth with 153.

The HouseSimple survey directly addresses the issue of the ratio of estate agents in Wapping High Street (lots) to the number of ordinary retail outlets (one?).

Lack of retail diversity in Wapping

While Islington High Street has far more estate agents than Wapping High Street (we know ‘cos we checked) what is very noticeable is that in Islington there are ordinary shops as well.  The lack of retail diversity cannot be good for Wapping but very high business rates and rents as well as low footfall are a barrier to new enterprise.

Tower Hamlets estate agents charged borough residents an estimated £50m in 2014 on an average of only four sales per branch per month.

“Buy to vacate”

It is not known how many of these sales were to overseas buyers practising the ‘buy to vacate’ approach that is now common across London, but rumours of Wapping estate agents organising trips to Wapping for would be purchasers from China might be one indication of the value of property in our community as a safe financial investment.

“Small independent retailers are being pushed out by rising rents, while estate agents are securing the best spots on the high street and filling their pockets – last year to the tune of more than £1bn in fees,” said HouseSimple CEO Alex Gosling.

HouseSimple allows individuals to buy and sell their houses online without using a traditional estate agent so obviously has a vested interest in criticising the number of estate agents in high streets across London, but the fact remains that people are spoilt for choice when shopping for property in Wapping High Street but stuffed if they want to buy anything else.

Apart from a pub lunch.

The table below shows the results for all London boroughs.

Number of estate agents in each London borough (Source: HouseSimple)

BoroughNumber of Estate Agents*Estimated fees 2014**
Tower Hamlets131£49,578,205
Kensington & Chelsea127£73,328,825
Richmond upon Thames91£42,231,825
Hammersmith & Fulham82£43,199,486
Waltham Forest61£24,234,321
Kingston upon Thames58£24,844,617
Barking & Dagenham25£11,732,303
* Rightmove search data was used to research the number of estate agents in London boroughs.
** Average amount of fees made by individual estate agent branches in 2014. Total number of estate agent branches = 2661. Total fees earned by agents in all London boroughs in 2014 = £1,118,800,647. Average fees earned per agent = £420,444. Average number of sales made per month: Total fees earned - £1,118,800,647
Total property sales – £119,215 Average fee per sale – £1,118,800,647/119215 = £9,384 (£420,444 / £9384) /12 = 3.73

Love Wapping comment

The other pressing issue which these statistics do not address is the continuing ‘hollowing out’ of the London property market whereby only the very rich and those in social housing live in the capital with no-one in the middle.

Problem being that the people who cannot afford to buy in London are key workers such as doctors, nurses, police officers – and pretty much everyone else.

At some point this issue needs to be fixed before it causes social upheaval but is not being addressed by any of the mainstream political parties, probably because they are too busy slagging each other off as the General Election looms.

Little wonder that many voters are apathetic about politics.

Love Wapping will endeavour to undertake some more detailed research as to the precise location of the 131 estate agents in the borough and see where the main clusters are. No prizes for guessing where. 



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