Lending Solutions acquires estate agent

Lending Solutions, the owner of Your Move estate agents and e.surv chartered surveyors, has bought Reeds Rains Estate Agents for a reputed 22m.

The acquisition by the residential property services group is the latest move in the consolidation process taking place in the house buying industry in preparation for the introduction of Home Information Packs in 2007.

From January 2007 sellers will have to provide property valuation and structural surveys to buyers, and estate agents with associated conveyancing firms with be able to cash in.

Lending Solutions was founded in July 2004 when it led the 42m management buyout of e.surv and Your Move from Norwich Union. The company, which is controlled by Barclays Private Equity, also owns conveyancing firm Homefast Property Lawyers.

Reeds Rains, which also has 70 financial consultants that advise on mortgages and associated insurances across its 130-branch network, sees over 750m mortgage applications arranged per year.

Reeds Rains management will retain 10% of the share capital, reinvesting in the business in order to benefit from the opportunities created by the change of ownership.

Although Reeds Rains becomes part of the wider Lending Solutions group it will retain its brand and operate as an autonomous business run by the existing management team.

Simon Embley, chief executive of Lending Solutions, says: “With the advent of Home Information Packs, we believe this move positions us very well to take advantage of the forthcoming opportunities.”

Nigel Favas, managing director of Reeds Rains, adds: “The synergies between ourselves and existing Lending Solutions companies will enable us to take maximum advantage of the upcoming changes in the home buying process.”

Paul Duckworth, managing director of online conveyancing firm xit2, says that as the introduction of HIPs draws closer, consolidation has risen to the top of many firms’ agendas.

He says: “It will be interesting to see if consolidation delivers the benefits of scale these firms are aiming for or whether it will allow smaller more nimble players to take advantage.”