The assessment by an investment consultancy that Purplebricks sells some 76 per cent of the homes it lists may have made an easy headline, but the survey which gave rise to it offers an interesting insight into perceptions about the agency.
The survey as a whole, which received less attention than its main finding, was conducted on behalf of Investec by digital research company VIGA which asked 25 questions of some 513 Purplebricks vendors across the UK, who had been clients of the agency over the past three years.
There was also an additional survey involving a much larger group - not of Purplebricks customers - which also produced interesting results.
The surveys were conducted for investment consultancy Investec, which is one of two investment brokers used by Purplebricks itself. The other is Peel Hunt.
Here is a summary of the 25 questions and the responses, as contained in the report.
Much of the below is a direct quote from the report but with some editing for clarity.
“Purplebricks appears to sell rapidly: 88% within 6 months. Time taken to sell:
- below 3 months in 33% of cases;
- 3-6 months 55% of cases
- 6-12 months in 12% of cases
“Of the 24% not sold, we asked why?
- 42% were withdrawn from the market – of this, roughly one half were taking a ‘break’ from the market. PURP refers to the latter as a ‘marketing break’ and typically defines this as up to a 3month period. In theory these vendors return quickly to continue the sale process, adding another 5% of properties for PURP to sell in the near future;
- 34% were sold by another agent. This implies a low 8% of total property instructions with PURP are completed by a third party agent;
- 10% of ‘no sales’ fell through before completion implying 3% of gross Sold Subject To Contract (SSTC) sales do not complete. This compares to a PURP 10k property national sample data in Dec 2016 suggesting 91.9% of sold/SSTC properties were completed and verified by the Land Registry.
“LPEs are important in the sale process:
As a hybrid offering both value and LPE service, we are interested what role LPEs are seen to take in the sale process. We asked; ‘What role did your Purplebricks Local Property Expert play in the sale of your home?’
- The answer was net positive suggesting LPEs provide a good part of the sale process.
- 2/3 of respondents suggested LPEs played a key role in the sale process: this is an important positive for the PURP model in our view, with the company highlighting its pro-active recruitment and training process as well as service led culture.
- 28% - major role: ‘my LPE is mostly responsible for the sale of my home.’
- 39% - active role: ‘my LPE and I worked together to sell my home.’
- 33% - minimal role: ‘the bulk of responsibility for the sale belongs to me’.
“LPE feedback is overwhelmingly positive
We asked respondents to agree or disagree on various LPE points:
- Support through the process from the LPE: 45% strongly agreed and 36% agreed.
- Regular feedback and communication was given: 43% strongly agreed and 38% agreed.
- Valued at the right price by the LPE? 44% strongly agreed and 37% agreed.
- Good local knowledge of the respondent’s property market? 43% strongly agreed and 38% agreed.
- Was the property marketed well? 46% strongly agreed and 39% agreed
“What customers think of Purplebricks?
NPS measures loyalty and overall relationship between a provider and customer. We tested NPS using the standard question; ‘On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 = Not at all likely and 10 = Extremely likely, how likely are you to recommend Purplebricks to a friend, colleague, or family member?’
Our sample suggested a positive +53 score
- The NPS score range is -100 to +100 with a score above 0 considered ‘good’ and above +50 as ‘excellent’ - above +70 is ‘world class’.
- Our score is below the +78 suggested by PURP, but our sample is still a strong score; as a benchmark, Moneysupermarket is +47 (Feb 2018). Using NPS Benchmarks data, of US internet players, Facebook is -21, Apple +89, Amazon is +61 vs Google at +50 and Wikipedia at +51. Redfin is also at +50, while in media terms, Disney is at +50.
“Trust? Given questions over traditional estate agents and whether there is a conflict over client service (and trust issues), we tested a general statement over respondent trust for PURP; ‘I trust that Purplebricks has my best interests in mind’.
- The response was positive/agreed by 75% of respondents.
- Also, 76% of respondents agreed Purplebricks works hard for its clients.
- 78% of respondents agreed Purplebricks is an industry leading brand.
- 85% of respondents agreed Purplebricks is a forward thinking company.
“Value? We asked if Purplebricks was ‘great value for money’.
- 48% of respondents strongly agreed, while 33% agreed.
- Use again? In response to the statement; ‘I will use Purplebricks again if I need to sell my home’ - PURP scored well with 84% agreeing.
“User friendly? Given PURP’s platform is key as a funnel for leads and communication through the sales process, we wanted to test the user experience.
- Of our respondents, 87% agreed that the website was easy to use.
- 83% of respondents thought Purplebricks makes it easy on the customer.
What vendors see as important?
- Ahead of our focus on just Purplebricks customers, we looked a broader sample set (1591 respondents), not all Purplebricks customers, but having transacted or wanting to transact in the past 3 years. We asked the following question; ‘When choosing a company to sell your home, which of the following factors are most important to you?’ We gave a number of criteria with the ability to choose more than one option:
“The most important factors (59% plus)
Cost - the largest criteria was cost (78%). We believe this to some extent confirms the disruptive power of Purplebricks; the ability to sell houses more cheaply than traditional players.
Marketing on property portals – vendors are very aware of the importance of the portals to widely market their property (59% score). Again, Purplebricks ability to list on both of the 2 key portals (i.e. Zoopla and Rightmove) is key to its appeal. As discussed below, it is also far more important than having a local office presence; an important question in our view for traditional agents.
“Important but not prime factors (39% to 48%)
- No sale/no fee (48%) – seen as important within our criteria and interesting for both traditional agents and online offerings with an alternative model, but still within our middle ranking criteria. Interestingly, this is well below the overall cost criteria.
- Face to face contact with the agent – important and plays to the need to offer a hybrid service (and the importance of LPEs), not just an online platform.
- Local knowledge of the housing market – this is below where we had expected, but at 40%, still important/relevant in our view. Again, this plays to the need for a hybrid model to support the online platform.
- Past experience (39%) – important for re-use. In a PURP context, we note 88% of PURP customers said they would use Purplebricks again.
“Less important (sub 28%)
- Referrals from friends/family (28%) – ranked higher than public ratings. We believe this is covered off well within our NPS ranking criteria.
- Local office (25%) – we found this interesting and net negative for traditional agents, though local knowledge is clearly still regarded as important.
- Public ratings (i.e. TrustPilot, Fico, Allagents) – least weighted within our criteria though still of relevance in our view.”