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Purplebricks says it's more transparent than almost any other agency

Purplebricks has told Estate Agent Today it is more open about its business than almost any other agency and stridently rejects criticism about its failure to publish numbers of completed sales.

Yesterday’s ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority - effectively banning two Purplebricks TV ads because of what the ASA called their “misleading” statements about fees - prompted renewed criticism of the hybrid agency by investment bank Jefferies.

Under the title “Purplebricks - misleading again” the Jefferies equity analyst Anthony Codling issued a note to investors criticising the agency’s failure to provide completion statistics on the number of properties it has actually sold.

Codling said that the ASA ruling once again prompted a key question of Purplebricks - how many homes does it actually sell, as opposed to list?

Codling told investors: “So far Purplebricks have always chosen not to answer this question, despite the fact that according to chief executive office Michael Bruce ‘Purplebricks is firmly on the side of the consumer’.”

The note continued: “As Purplebricks is committed to increasing levels of transparency, we look forward to it adding its completed sales statistics to its adverts to help its consumers make a fully informed choice between paying Purplebricks irrespective of success or paying a traditional agent only if they are successful.”

Now in a statement to Estate Agent Today, a Purplebricks spokesman has hit back at the accusations about the firm’s transparency.

“Purplebricks provides more information about its business than virtually any other estate agency. In our latest audited results we reported that the UK sold and completed on £5.8 billion of property, with a further £3.7 billion sold subject to contract” he says. 

“We sell houses. Traditional agents also do not report the conversion rate, though we would imagine customers who are keen to sell their houses quickly would be keen to know whether they were locking themselves into a 12 week contract with an agent with a poor sales record” he continues.

 “Purplebricks is far more transparent in its charging. Our fees are fixed and published on our home page, unlike traditional agents, whose rates aren’t published at all and will vary even on the same street depending on the negotiating skills of each customer.”

Jefferies has in the past acted as an adviser to Countrywide, LSL Property Services and ZPG.

In a separate analysis - here - by Andrew Stanton, who heads the Estate Agency Insights and Strategies, it is revealed that Purplebricks had around 28,000 properties listed on Rightmove in a snapshot of listings taken early this month.

This far exceeds the number of properties listed on the portal by all other major online players put together - but it does not indicate how many properties actually go on to be sold through the online operators.

Media analyst Mike DelPrete, who has already written extensively about Purplebricks, has analysed the agency’s first month’s operation in the US. 

“He says: “At the core of Purplebricks’ business are the local property agents, called Local Real Estate Experts in the U.S. After one month in the market, Purplebricks currently has 24 licensed agents operating in the launch market in Los Angeles, California. This compares to over 650 local property experts in the U.K., and over 100 in Australia.

“After one month of operation, Purplebricks U.S. currently has 12 listings, nine of which are for sale, and three of which are pending. Of its 24 agents, nine agents have one active listing each. Sixteen agents currently have no listings.

“Yes, in isolation 12 is a small number, but remember that this is a new business. Getting a new listing every 2.5 days isn’t bad for a new entrant in its first month. But let’s see how it grows from here.”

You can read his full summary of the US operation here.

  • Simon shinerock

    OB trying to fight fire with fire by attacking sole agency agreements but they are clouding the issue. Simply put, no commission equals no incentive. What do they do when a chain collapses? Or a Property languishes?

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    Not that transparent on AllAgents website like every other decent agent in the UK. Bullying AllAgents to withdraw negative reviews isnt really playing the game fairly.

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    Advert on TV last
    Night ?

  • Sally Jones

    Purplebricks lie and that is the bottom line. They honestly think we believe the rubbish they publish about transparency and being on the side of the customer. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. They don't want their reviews published because it reflects the terrible customer service they give. As for their fees and the comment 'unlike traditional agents, whose rates aren’t published at all' again lying. They have clearly not looked at any other agents websites to find this out. We publish our fees in full and I believe so do the majority of other agents. When will they learn they are the worst example of what an agent should be, they wouldn't know honestly if it jumped up and bit them on the bum!

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    I don't know any high street agent that actively publishes its fees

     
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    They don’t publish any sold figures because it is clearly no concern of theirs whether a property sells on not. I would imagine they haven’t even given it a second thought! They are only interested in the listing process and their Rightmove account. Why bother with results that don’t bring them any direct revenue?

  • Sally Jones

    Rob - we are a high street agent. Have a look at our website: www.purplepropertyshop.com. :)

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    Sally, you are one of the exceptions.

    Over the last 15 years I must have met with 10 different Estate Agents, some of them multiple times, and apart from 1 (who I asked) they haven't even told me their commission rates when they valued the house.

    AllAgents were asked to verify reviews were legit and if they couldn't that they should remove them. This is in accordance the the Defamation Act 2013. That's a big difference from being bullied into removing them. TrustPilot will remove a review if they can't verify its legitimacy which is the proper way to do it, otherwise people with a grudge post multiple fake negative reviews.

     
  • Sally Jones

    Hi John every agent has negative reviews from people who do not appear to have every used their service (us included) and I would agree that these probably do come from people with a grudge. However, I do not believe that the large amount of negative reviews for Purplebricks posted on AllAgents were all fake, the majority of them were way too detailed about the reasons for the clients dissatisfaction for someone to have made it all up. If an estate agent is good then the positive ones will outweigh the negative ones, I know this is not ideal but we are all in the same boat. Of note, I am aware that every time a negative review is posted on TrustPilot for PurpleBricks they have it removed because they say they do not recognise the client . . . how convenient!

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Purplebricks has told Estate Agent Today it is more open about its business than almost any other agency............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................laughed so much at that Ive forgotten what I was going to write. Oh well, you get the gist.

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    Hi Sally,

    >However, I do not believe that the large amount of negative reviews for Purplebricks posted on AllAgents were all fake, the majority of them were way too detailed about the reasons for the clients dissatisfaction for someone to have made it all up.

    I don't think even PurpleBricks are claiming they are all fake but if I was to write a fake review I'd definitely try and make it look legitimate and provide lots of detail.

    >If an estate agent is good then the positive ones will outweigh the negative ones

    I would agree if those who write positive reviews were motivated enough to visit more than one review site. In the case of PurpleBricks they encourage customers to review on TrustPilot. I think that those writing negative reviews are more likely to post on more than one site and if you follow events like I do you will have seen one customer complaining that her negative review which AllAgents took down was in fact a copy of one she'd left on the TrustPilot site.

    >Of note, I am aware that every time a negative review is posted on TrustPilot for PurpleBricks they have it removed because they say they do not recognise the client

    Well that's not strictly true. There are some negative reviews which aren't even verified. Also, what happens is that when PurpleBricks flag a review up as an unrecognised customer then that customer is contacted by TrustPilot. If they come back and verify then the review is reinstated.

    TrustPilot have come out and said that PurpleBricks flag more positive reviews than negative ones. Also, what a lot of people probably don't realise, is that a large number of reviews will come via a link in an email sent out by PurpleBricks. If PurpleBricks claimed not to recognise the customer for any of these reviews then TrustPilot would see that they were abusing the system.

    BTW, I'm a PurpleBricks customer and used to work in the Internet Marketing industry.

  • David Bennett

    John L - by PB customer, presumably you mean home seller? What was your experience with PB? You paid an upfront fee and then sat back and waited for the phone to ring for viewings. Once you had negotiated your own sale (or did the PB expert do that) Conveyancers were instructed. Who monitored the transaction and liaised with the chain (if any) and kept you in the loop, until Exchange and agreed Completion. Let's be honest, estate agents only get paid (a previously agreed commission), if the sale Completes. PB have no incentive. It just wants to list as many properties and rake in c£1,00 per instruction. What estate agent wouldn't like £1,000 at the start! I would wager that most PB instructions turn out to be a waste of money and a traditional estate agent is instructed, to pick up the pieces, the sellers expectations having been shattered by unfulfilled promises. If PB sales record is so good, it would be shouting from the rooftops (pun intended).

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