Selling with Purplebricks – “a £1,000 coin toss”

Purplebricks has been in the wars recently as the BBC and stockbroker firm Jefferies have taken them to task over some of their claims. It’s no surprise that a traditional independent high street firm such as ours should take an interest in this rolling story but it is good to see that some of their claims are held to a bit of scrutiny.

Jefferies took particular umbrage with the claim that Purplebricks sold 78% of the properties they marketed. Any local agent would question this statistic as it does not match our experience of their place in the local market and the figure that Jefferies held up as closer to 51% is a damning statistic. As you pay for Purplebricks regardless of whether you sell, it is, as Jefferies so succinctly put it “a £1,000 coin toss”. Purplebricks are currently advertising on their website more than 16,000 homes which means more than 16,000 people have paid them £1,000 with only a 50% chance of selling.

Now it would be churlish to suggest that you are guaranteed to sell by choosing a high street agent – although we currently sell around 80% of all properties marketed. There is also the consideration that there are a lot of reasons why homes don’t sell – condition, price, seller’s motivation – but a good agent will be able to advise and steer a seller through all these factors while not being paid unless they sell the property.

Of course, high street agents are usually more expensive than their online competitors, though not by the same amount as Purplebricks claim (see numerous complaints to the ASA) and there is a reason for this. Local agents are local experts working with you to achieve the same end goal – you moving house, with the transaction going as smoothly as possible, so they can get paid. If the phrase “so they can get paid” sounds callous or greedy then consider it in the context of the online model where they get paid, upfront and regardless of service.

Perhaps the biggest consideration for those considering the online route will be how it will work in today’s economy. Purplebricks and the other online agents started in the pre-Brexit market when every Saturday every agent could rely on easy sales off the back of open days and multiple offers. No agent needed to be good to succeed. The market is different now and the old-fashioned values of good service, knowledge, and experience are back in vogue. How many hours a week will Purplebricks spend on the phone trying to generate viewings on your home? It’ll be none, because you’ve already paid them.


See the full BBC article here


“After a crappy experience using an online agent, Q Estate Agents totally turned it around for us. They are experienced, honest, helpful and really go the extra mile. I wouldn’t sell through anyone else.”

Fiona Jones, January 2018

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