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Graham Awards


Purplebricks called "cynical, disingenuous" by agents' trade body

The bitter war of words against Purplebricks waged by the fledgling Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents reached a new intensity last night with the release of a scathing attack on the hybrid agency’s recent consumer report.

In the report Purplebricks attacked “Britain's antiquated method of buying and selling homes” by describing it as out of touch, out of date and leaving millions out of pocket.

The comments were attached to a survey of 1,003 people conducted for Purplebricks in January: it found that many of the public regarded traditional agents’ fees as “unnecessarily expensive”.


CIELA founder Charles Wright says he and his organisation challenges the validity and reliability of the data upon which Purplebricks’ report relies, questions the sample size and its representativeness of the public. 

“This report is profoundly offensive, not only to estate agents, but especially to all the consumers who had money taken by Puprlebricks even though they didn't sell their home” says Wright. 

“The sheer nerve of an organisation who is taking millions of pounds a year from people who don't get a successful sale to suggest estate agents don't pass on offers to their clients is breath-taking in its hypocrisy” he continues. 

He say 80 per cent of the industry is comprised of small-owner managed businesses who care deeply about their customers yet earn nothing if they don't achieve a sale. 

“They are unsung heroes helping people navigate one of the most difficult and important processes as people's lives require a move. Purplebricks' behaviour represents the very worst of cynical, disingenuous, corporate behaviour” Wright adds.

Another CIELA founder member, estate agent Perry Power, said in the organisation’s statement that “Purplebricks ... surveyed a tiny fraction of the UK with cleverly worded questions to get the headlines they want.”

Power accused the agency of scare tactics, adding that “we don’t see them admitting to only having a 30 per cent completion rate yet still taking consumers hard earned money, do we?”

The CIELA statement claims that Purplebricks “purposely withheld information about their completion rates and actively pulled the wool over consumer’s eyes with too-good-to-be-true prices and empty promises.”

  • Jon James

    About time someone spoke up for us. These shameful online only lot have spun their story for too long. Taking money upfront with no end result how do they keep a straight face. PB are a good advert but the product doesn't match up. The statistics are there to see, they list property i.e. Take the money but the conversation rate to sales is really poor. You can't do anything on the cheap and why anyone would trust their most valuable asset in the most difficult transaction you will probably deal with is beyond me. #realestateagency


    You are so right that it is about time. I have been paying membership fees to the NAEA for the best part of 30 years and all I have to show for it is their latest new logo and a load of legislation. It is not unreasonable to expect your trade body to at least speak up, but all I hear from them is deathly silence!

  • Chris Arnold

    PurpleBricks are a fine example of everything that is wrong with estate agency in the U.K. They manipulate the vendors. They manipulate the media. They manipulate the questions. They manipulate the truth.
    When vendors finally wake up to this 'house of cards', they might realise that the consequence of believing all these half-truths is, that the honest, ethical and hard-working agents have disappeared.

    The others have gone off to join the 'dark side'.

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    Jon, I'd be interested to know where you get your figures on the conversion rate of PurpleBricks.

    Chris, it sounds like there's a lot of unethical and lazy agents out there according to your comment. 425 already working on "the dark side" and all the others who are going to join.

    I currently have a property listed with PurpleBricks and the LPE had previously managed 2 local agents. They were the only agent who came to me and told me what they charged and the only one who admitted my property was difficult to value. The others seemed very keen to value it at anything I considered to be right.

    Since listing with PurpleBricks I've had phone calls from these agents offering me special commission rates and telling me how busy they are and how good they are at selling properties when the evidence just isn't there to support this.

    Jon James

    Hi John. I get my local information direct from the agents intel section provided by Rightmove. This shows daily, weekly, monthly or annually the amount of properties listed by each agent and sold and can without question tell you that on every scenario you will see that PB or any of the other online only's get a level of instructions but the level of sales is nowhere near the business end of the results. Cheap but not very cheerful.


    Hi Jon, thank you for replying.

    What are the ranges of conversion rates from best to worst for Estate Agents in general?

    I'm also wondering whether Rightmove would even know when a property is sold that PurpleBricks lists. Like I mention above I'm currently selling with them and one of the things I like is that as a seller you are not necessarily relying on the agent to sell the property. You are effectively dealing directly with anybody who makes an offer. When you receive an offer you have the option to take the property off the market.

    Could the figures you are seeing in Rightmove actually not be truly representative? I have seen some of the figures bandied around by agents 14% and 30% and I've seen PurpleBricks' claims of 88% and I've also done my own research on a small sample of listings from about a year ago and I won't say what my findings were but they were closer to PurpleBricks' claims.


    Hi Jon - it's impossible to know for sure bevcause not all is as it seems when accessing figues displayed on Rightmove & Zoopla (#portaljuggling)

    Here's what we know:

    13% from Anthoney Codling is wrong.

    Initially Bruce said intruction to sale agreed was 77% - https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/6/city-analyst-disputes-purplebricks-claim-of-77-conversion-rate

    Then he went on moneybox and said 88%.

    Now, it must be highlighted that this is for instruction to "sale agreed" NOT "sale completed".

    Assuming the widely accepted industry norm of 33% of all "sale agreed" transactions falling down before completion, we could have a reasonable stab at guessing the true conversion rate for PB (instruction to sale completed).

    My gut feeling is that this ratio is somewhere between 50%-60% nationwide.

    As with all things, it depends on the quality of the LPE, the state of the local market, the willingness of the vendors to come to market at a realistic price.

    I would say that PB's "sale to completion" ratio is probably about the same as the average for all high street estate agents nationwide (maybe even a touch better).

    As such, the public probably have about a 50/50 chance of success with PB.

    However, 100% of PB clients will hand over £££££ regardless of success whereas anyone using a "no sale no fee" estate agent will not.

    I think it also worth pointing out that in each micro market around the UK there will be one or two local estate agents that will significantly outperform PB in terms of "instruction to sales completion" success levels.

    It's all a guess really but that's what I think anyway. Can't prove a word of it.

  • Murray Lee

    Agreed, we small independents with a long track record of providing good customer service easily get forgotten. "Not all agents are the same" Purplebricks need reigning in for mis-leading the public. I hope CIELA will be the force to do it. NFOPP/NAEA/ARLA/PROPERTYMARK are disappointing silent

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    'NFOPP/NAEA/ARLA/PROPERTYMARK are disappointing silent'
    As usual.


    I'm not sure what you expect them to say, Ray? These firms are allowed to be members of NAEA/ARLA. I'm not saying I don't agree with you - I do. It's just they're hardly going to come out and criticise their own members who pay to keep them afloat are they?

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    NFOPP/NAEA/ARLA/PROPERTYMARK members should realise that since the introduction of propertymark (without reasonable notice} that their 'trade body' no longer represents their interests - it is a consumer protection organisation - using their subscriptions.

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    • 10 April 2017 08:08 AM

    I was an estate agent for nearly 30 years and witnessed vast changes in that time especially when it comes to marketing property for sale. When I first started in agency, good estate agents used to get on the phone to potential buyers or mail individual details out in the post. If you worked hard and were proactive you were able to make an instant impact in any market place. The majority of agents then were lazy and just simply stuck a board up outsid and signed up unsuspecting vendors up on long sole agency contracts as they were not confident in their ability to keep the customer by service alone. Like it or not the majority of agents are still very lazy, they now rely on the internet to generate the interest for them. The internet has made a lot of very poor and lazy agents seem relatively good. At least Purplebricks charge a commission rate which is commensurate with simply just listing a property on a website and Rightmove, which is all that a lot of agents now do.
    Where traditional high street estate agents could win, and the better ones survive, is on service, getting the sale through, checking chains, keeping in touch with the customer, advising properly on price and the current market place.
    My experience with Purplebricks so far when it comes to managing sales has been poor, but a lot of traditional agents are as equally as poor even woeful in this essential part of the process. I am sure that Purplebricks and similar agents will improve this element of their service in the future.
    Competition is healthy in any business, and it was only a question of time that the traditional estate agency business model would come under attack. The lower rate fixed fee has been about for years, but estate agency history is littered with many of its pre internet exponents, who have crashed and burned. I think that that a role for a good hard working and local property agent will exist in the future, which will be differentiated by that essential local market knowledge and superb customer service. But thanks to the commercial pressure from the likes of Purplebricks the poor and lazy high street agents will not be a

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    • 10 April 2017 08:18 AM

    But thanks to the commercial pressure from the likes of Purplebricks the poor and lazy high street agent will not survive as they will not be able to differentiate their business in this way, and those agents are no loss to anyone or our profession as a whole.
    The best agents are still doing good business and will continue to do so in the future as they embrace competition and adapt, but the writing is on the wall for the last ones, so don't be bitter about what Purplebricks are doing jus make sure you are better.


    Yes, and the ones that do go bust will blame PB while at the same time tell everyone that they are terrible.
    Focus on your own business, be the best agent in town.

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    I get the dislike for purple bricks but really the constant bashing of them! People just need to concentrate on their own businesses, if you are that much better what have you got to worry about?

    These will be the same agents that when they got to a Val sit there moaning about all the other agents in town. It loses you as much business as it gains. The first thing I teach my negs when they are learning to list is that you should never focus on other agents sell us and what we do. same applies here!


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