Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agency group, is to hold a £1.65bn three-day end-of-year sale, starting tomorrow. The owners of more than 7,500 properties have been encouraged to slash their prices by as much as 30 per cent – although some have trimmed by as little as 3%.

Countrywide says that the Christmas bargain scheme, which it has been planning for several months, was intended to 'kick-start local property markets' and was not prompted by Standard & Poor’s recent down-grading of the group’s credit rating. S&P asserted that Countrywide would run out of cash by the end of 2009.

Homes valued from about £50,000 to £1 million-plus will be on offer through 1,000 Countrywide branches. The business owns about 30 estate agency brands, including Bairstow Eves, Entwhistle Green, Faron Sutaria, Gascoigne Pees, John D Wood, Mann and Wilson Peacock.

The Times