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Purplebricks sells 83 per cent of the homes it lists, agency chief says

The chief executive of Purplebricks, often criticised by detractors for failing to reveal completion rates as opposed to listings, says his agency sells 83 per cent of the homes it is instructed on.

There is also the promise of more figures to come when the business stabilises.

Michael Bruce, in an interview in the London Evening Standard, says the number of sales is more relevant to a "steady state" business such as a long established business rather than a new one in an emerging sector. He promises more figures "at the right time, when it would be more reflective of the performance of the business."

Figures released last week, and reported here on Estate Agent Today, show Purplebricks reporting a first-ever UK operating profit of £1.7m although the business overall — which has launched in Australia and just raised £50m to move into the US — made pre-tax losses of £6.1m in the year to April 30.

In the Standard interview, Bruce calculates that 'star' investor Neil Woodford - who owns around 27 per cent of the agency - has made £260m from his dealings in the company; Bruce himself has just purchased a white Aston Martin Vantage according to the paper.

The rest of the piece canters over some familiar territory, with Bruce beginning his estate agency career with a part time job with Countrywide while at university, and then going on to found Burchell Edwards agency in the Midlands, which was eventually sold to Connells.

Then Bruce expounds on the philosophy behind Purplebricks: "Rightmove and Zoopla came in and the buyer was in control. Millions were spent on helping buyers but very little ever spent on helping sellers. They’re the people who pay the bills. You’d have very expensive High Street premises but nobody would come in. Over time you think, how can we deliver a much better service in a way people want? Everybody is too busy using the saw to stop and sharpen it.”

Bruce dismisses some criticism of his company from within the industry as mere sour grapes, and he is particularly dismissive of comments by Matt Robinson - founder of another online service, Nested - who during May's Future: PropTech conference dismissed Purplebricks as the Ryanair of estate agencies.

“At the end of the day we go out, we promise a service, we deliver on the service… and that is why we are the most positively reviewed. To say that we’re the Ryanair — well if we’re the Ryanair, and we’ve got as many positive reviews [as we have], I don’t know what other airline you could use as an analogy for the others” Bruce tells the Standard.

On Friday EAT's panel of industry experts - critics and supporters of Purplebricks - gave their analysis of the figures. You can read that here.

  • Simon shinerock

    It's a really interesting phenomena this Purple Bricks. It proves that you can inflate anything with enough cash but to achieve an actual ROI for the retail investors who have bought PB shares will prove far harder.

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    The headline is not correct. Michael Bruce very carefully says "that 83% of instructions end in a sale" He emphatically does not say that HIS company sells them and it is a VERY important distinction.

  • Rob  Davies

    I think some people here would never be willing to give PB any credit, no matter what they do. The anti-PB brigade seem so blinded by negativity that, when they hear any news regarding Purplebricks, their stock reply is always damning or pointing out a downside.

    There are legitimate criticisms of PB to be made, but I fear with some they can't win either way. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

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    I respect the business model of PB and, as I have said previously, I worked with a much larger PLC on just such a project almost a decade ago. Where I have issue is how often PB make claims that are unsubstantiated, use bully-boy tactics to silence negative customer reviews and legitimate journalists questions (just ask some of the broadsheets how often they have been threatened) and, seemingly, appears to be able to operate in a way that would land other agents in a great deal of legal trouble (E.g. that almost all of its franchisees had no individual redress until June of 2016 and that none of the 100 or so recently checked LPEs had any form of ICO or HMRC AML registration. The wording on those two organisations websites about non-compliance from agents being unambiguous and clear.

    Always happy to compete fairly on a level playing field with other players playing by the same equally enforced rules.

     
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    It is always the way Rob whilst I agree they aren't perfect you have to admire what they have done in so little time. I work for a " normal agent" and I have massive respect for what they have done. Their tactic has been to get as much publicity as possible and its worked so far.

     
  • Sally Jones

    Why the hell is every 'Breaking News' all about Purplebricks . . . . . . there are a lot of other agents out there doing much better - us for example!!!! I would be happy for an article highlighting our achievements or even another agent . . . anything but Purplebricks. I am beginning to think Estate Agents Today is just printing any article Purplebricks send them . . . it is boring and attention seeking!

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    Went onto found Burchell Edwards? I think you will find that was John Burchell and Daryl Edwards Bless them.

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