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Ex-London agency director takes a swipe at firms 'doing a Purplebricks'

A former director at London agency Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward has taken a swipe at agencies that have made knee-jerk changes to emulate Purplebricks’ business model.

Carl Brignell was a director at KFH with responsibility for conveyancing, and now runs his own company, Elite Conveyancing. 

Writing on a website he says that the residential industry has become ”obsessed with the Purplebricks phenomenon.”


He says the company - which this week announced its latest expansion, into New York - is undoubtedly a success, but perhaps more at raising money than selling homes. Even so, he says early investors and the company’s founders must be pinching themselves at how much money they have raised. 

But he suggests that some mainstream agencies have devised “confused strategies” with many “not knowing which way to turn next.”

Brignell says this has been fuelled by some PropTech firms, and industry leaders, who “would have you think there is an inevitability to the situation and that soon all agents will have to adapt to the Purplebricks way of selling property.”

He says that instead, a number of more astute agencies have seized upon the rise of Purplebricks to demonstrate the virtues of traditional agency with a higher emphasis on personal expertise, good communications and skilled sales progression.

“Sending a text, WhatsApp or any other message stating that ‘the local search is in’ will simply not cut it” he cautions.

Brignell says a similar attack to that from Purplebricks on traditional agencies is now coming from large scale conveyancing factories “as they too have attempted to commoditise the property buying and selling process.”

He says they have built elaborate IT systems, processes and business models that I am sure all look good on paper but have forgotten that their clients and staff are in fact human beings and not robots.

Market share is not necessarily a sign of success, says Brignell, adding that it can be acquired through large sales and marketing budgets, which are more often than not funded through outside investment. 

“Being the biggest is a title that can be purchased but being the best has to be earned” he writes on Agentwow. 

  • Peter Ambrose

    ALWAYS love a "trojan horse" story on a Monday morning.

    Guessing that the thought process went something like this. "I really need a story where I can try and bash my competition ... I know, let's have a go at Purplebricks, cos let's face it, EVERYBODY that I'm trying to sell to, HATES them. Then, we'll slide in a quick comparison and get the sympathy vote."

    Cynical doesn't even go halfway to describing this piece.

    The criticism "attempted to commoditise (sp) the property buying and selling process" from someone who runs a panel management company is beyond comprehension.

    Stones and Glasshouses seem to come to mind here, on the hope of a very cheap win.

    To misquote Python; "what did panel managers ever do for customer service".

  • icon

    Well said Peter!

  • Carl Brignell

    Morning Peter

    Interesting but completely misguided comment.

    The original piece was actually about how to fight for your market share by providing a better service as opposed to buying it through sales and marketing activities or simply dropping your fees.

    It is unlikely that our paths have ever crossed and so you would be forgiven for not understanding the business model at Elite Conveyancing. We set up Elite two years ago as a platform from which decent, small / medium sized law firms can compete for market share by providing a demonstrable better service and reducing timescales through to exchange of contracts.

    We have achieved this by getting all our solicitors to work together as a team as well as by working closer with our estate agency clients. Without exception, we have significantly reduced the average timescales from instruction to exchange for all of our estate agency clients, many of which previously had frustrated, inconsistent and half-hearted relationships with a handful of ‘preferred’ law firms.

    Further, because we compete on service, we don’t need to employ any Sales Managers, Marketing Managers, Account Managers or Business Development Managers, all of which add unnecessary costs to the conveyancing fee, as you will no doubt appreciate.

    I hope all is going well at The Partnership.


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