WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ-The housing slump, which has impacted several companies in the development ranks, has now reached dramatically into the brokerage ranks. Discount broker Foxtons has all but shut its doors, laying off all but 30 of its 380 staffers. Company officials say they are preparing to file for bankruptcy as the next step toward a complete shutdown.

“The fact is that we have been battling against a real estate market that recently has gone into a sharp decline,” says John Blomquist, Foxtons’ SVP/general counsel, in a statement. “We understand the impact of the action we are taking, but there comes a point when you can’t stand in the way of a hurricane.”

As reported by GlobeSt.com, the company was founded in early 2000 by local businessman Glenn Cohen as YourHomeDirect. Billing itself as “the home of the 2% commission,” the company rolled out an unproven volume-based but low-service platform aimed at undercutting the standard 6% commission.

A couple of years later, the company picked up a $20-million investment from the London-based Foxtons, which had a similar platform, and its name was changed to YHD Foxtons. In mid-2003, the YHD part was dropped from the company’s name, and the London operation bought Cohen out entirely in 2004.

As recently as July, Foxtons was ranked best by Realtor magazine for sales effectiveness, according to the company’s website. The latter, however, does not currently reflect the company’s pending shut-down, and questions remain about the status of Foxtons’ stable of more than 4,400 listings in New Jersey and New York. Calls to the company’s offices here were not answered.

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