Halifax has refused to specify where the axe would fall after announcing that it was closing more than 50 of its high street estate agents.
Just days after the National Association of Estate Agents speculated that the internet may one day make high street operations redundant, Halifax said that 53 of its branches would close as a result of the housing downturn.
The closures will lead to up to 100 job cuts, although the group said the majority of staff employed in the affected branches would be transferred to similar roles in its banks.
It said the decision followed a need to reshape the business in the current market conditions, following a significant decline in housing transactions in recent months.
The company said it could not specify the location of the closures as the staff were still being notified, but it said following the changes Halifax Estate Agents would concentrate on its core markets in the Midlands and the North, where it has 151 branches.
It added that the smaller branch network would enable it to focus on towns where it has a strong market presence.
A total of around 550 staff will be affected by the move, but Halifax said around 450 of these people, many of whom are mortgage advisers, would be transferred to similar roles in its banking branches over the coming four months.
But up to 100 jobs will be cut, either through natural staff turnover or voluntary redundancy.
The group said the closure of the branches and the reductions in central support for these branches would generate cost savings.
Estate agents have been hit hard by the combination of falling house prices and the credit crunch, with transactions running at less than half of last year’s level.
Buyers are putting plans to move house on hold until the outlook for the market becomes clearer, while those who still want to go ahead with a purchase are struggling to raise the finance they need.
Recent figures from the National Association of Estate Agents showed that estate agents sold an average of just six properties each during July.
Earlier this week Peter Bolton-King from the NAEA announced that it was launching a free dedicated website for estate agents to advertise properties which caused a significant fall in the share price of market leader Rightmove.
He added that in the long term more and more business was set to be done online which could see more rationalisation of high street operations.
Halifax is working with unions Accord and Unite on the transfers and job cuts.
An Accord spokesman said it was working with its members to help them make the transition from an estate agency to a bank branch, but it added that the job cuts were not a major issue, given some of the job losses being made by estate agents.