COUNTRYWIDE plc, which includes Austin & Wyatt in Bournemouth town centre and Lower Parkstone, has been shortlisted in the Best Large Chain category of The Estate & Lettings Agent Awards 2014 (ESTAS), an award the company has won for five consecutive years.

The shortlist comes off the back of Countrywide plc’s significant investment in a customer focussed employee programme called ‘Hearts & Minds’, to continually improve its service and ensure its approach and methods of communication are aligned with its customers.

The ESTAS determines the best estate agents in the country through research carried out amongst customers who are asked a series of questions about the service they have received from their agent. 32,000 questionnaires were completed by customers during the competition.

The regional and national winners will be announced by TV property expert Phil Spencer in front of 600 of the UK’s top estate and letting agents at the 11th annual ESTAS ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane, London on Friday, May 9.

Robert Scarff, Managing Director of Estate Agency at Countrywide plc, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the ESTAS 2014. It means so much to us as we know it is our customers who have put us on the list. We take our levels of customer service very seriously because we know customers have a choice and customers are the lifeblood of our business.”

Selling or buying a house is the largest financial transaction most people will ever undertake. Consumer research cites moving house as one of the top five most stressful life events, so it is important for consumers to choose the right estate agent. Austin & Wyatt is part of the largest estate agency network operating more than 1,300 associated branches across the UK.

Orrey Pike, Bournemouth branch manager of Austin & Wyatt said: “We invest millions of pounds a year on behalf of our customers in our online service,, and other property portals, to ensure maximum exposure, as an extensive internet presence will inevitably have access to more buyers.

“An agent that relies on simply "introducing" viewers cannot expose a property fully to the market and their customer can therefore never be certain that they have achieved the best price from the best buyer. A saving of 1 per cent on the estate agency fee isn’t so beneficial from a financial perspective when the property has been undersold.”

Austin & Wyatt has had a busy start to the year, seeing more activity in the local housing market in the first few months of 2014 than when compared to the same period in 2013. They expect this increased level of activity to continue well into the spring, which is traditionally one of the busiest periods for the housing market.

Matthew Hargrove, Lower Parkstone branch manager of Austin & Wyatt said: “The warmer sunshine and longer days traditionally attract more buyers to the market, so it is clear to see why spring is seen as the ideal time to sell your home. Buyers and sellers are more optimistic about the housing market conditions, and properties that are correctly priced and pro-actively marketed are selling well. We expect these next few weeks to be a busy period for us and we are looking forward to helping more people to move home.”

For further details contact Austin & Wyatt - Lower Parkstone: 01202 900635; Bournemouth town centre: 01202 298571, or visit