Purplebricks said Brexit uncertainty was weighing on UK house sales © PA

The estate agency Purplebricks more than doubled its losses to £27.3m in the six months to October from a year earlier as it pushed to convert homebuyers in five countries to its digital model.

The Aim-listed company, which is backed by Germany’s Axel Springer, also cut its revenue forecast for the full year and said the run-up to the UK’s departure from the EU was weighing on housing sales in its home market.

Michael Bruce, chief executive, said: “It’s fair to say the uncertainty around the Brexit position and what it means to people will impact most industries in this country.”

Revenues rose 75 per cent year-on-year to £70.1m, thanks in part to a 39 per cent boost from the UK market to £48.3m. But losses were up from £11.4m a year earlier.

The company’s shares fell 8.9 per cent to 133p by mid-morning, bringing their total decline to 72 per cent since a peak in January.

The “hybrid” agency, which combines a branch-free model with self-employed agents and a digital platform, has had to contend with a sluggish UK housing market. Its largest online rival, Emoov, entered administration last week.

Digital estate agents have not been the only casualties: in August Countrywide, previously the largest high street group, was forced to agree a £140m rescue package after its share price collapsed.

Mr Bruce said Purplebricks was targeting 10 per cent market share in the UK. According to the research firm TwentyCi, online estate agents together commanded 8 per cent of the UK market in the first half of 2018.

The company will launch its “Purplebricks Plus” service, a dashboard for household bills, in the first half of next year, Mr Bruce said.

Purplebricks has also changed its business model in Australia, which was its first overseas market — raising fees and making half the figure payable only on completion of a sale. That is a departure from its UK model, where vendors pay whether or not a house sells.

Mr Bruce said a similar change in the UK was “not on the agenda”.

Having previously said it expected £165m to £185m of revenues for the full year, the company said the figure would now be between £165m and £175m.

Purplebricks said it had completed sales of £5.4bn of UK property in the first half, up from £4.6bn a year previously. It reported marketing costs of £39m for the period.

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