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Purplebricks' top critic explains why High Street agents 'win every time'

Former City analyst Anthony Codling - who is now the front-man for a new property portal - has set out why he believes High Street agents will always ‘beat’ online rivals.

Codling, who last year left the investment consultancy Jefferies after several years as an equity analyst with a particular focus on the residential property sector, says online agencies have attracted vast sums from investors because an explosion of digital technology meant that in recent years consumers have been able to bank, shop and make appointments online.

But he insists that equating property with these other retail and convenience activities, which have boomed in digital form, is “a flawed logic” - and here’s why.


While banking services are broadly similar in person or online, and a book ordered from Amazon is going to contain exactly the same pages as one purchased in a bookshop, transacting a property is “different”.

In a presentation to the Guild of Property Professionals conference at the end of last week, Codling - who famously criticised Purplebricks on numerous occasions when he worked at Jefferies - dismissed online agents generally as “passive intermediaries” who list properties on portals and then wait to find a buyer.

They add little or no value to the process and would not exploit the desire of a person to buy a property, possibly at a higher price, he insisted. 

High Street estate agents, by contrast, have a database of active potential purchasers and have a human mechanism - negotiators and sales progression teams - who hunt down those buyers who are willing to pay for a property.

Codling added that in his experience people will pay for value, and an estate agent’s commission of 1.0 to 2.0 per cent is unlikely to deter clients. 


Looking at the current market, he told delegates that the need for agents to pro-actively and vigorously focus on sales would be accelerated this year by the lettings fee ban; this is because so many agents have entered lettings in recent years because the rental sector has expanded while the sales landscape has been volatile.

He told the conference that, as an example, the largest agent in the country would lose some £20 m in fees due to the ban and therefore would need to recoup this money on sales.

Codling did not name that agency as Countrywide but the troubled agency group has been a client of Jefferies in the past.

Codling’s new role since leaving Jefferies has been as chief executive of long-awaited property portal Rummage4.

He told the Guild event that there was no date for its launch but gave an example of how it could be used to show past sales as well as current instructions. He said that this would be a powerful tool during a pitch if it was “showing your agency owned an area.” 

  • Mike Lewis

    Pretty well spot on I would say. IT/prop tech is ok and has it's place but it is incredibly fragile (how much time do we waste switching off then back on again etc) and more importantly it can never replace the human factor. Just look at the recent chaos in the banking system - another failure of IT last week and there will doubtless be more.


    Try researching your competitors; you'll find plenty of "human" support and the majority used to be High Street estate agents. And please don't pass judgement on their experience and abilities; they're no different to the many agents you've worked with that have started up on their own or moved to another estate agency.

  • icon

    As I have said.
    High Street Agents keep doing your good work. PB will go under.
    Is there new add on the radio misleading.
    They sell quicker than the top 10 Estate Agents.
    I only see in my Area that they reduce reduce reduce prices.


    Yadder,yadder, yadder. So what you're saying Peter is carry on refusing to publish your fees, overcharge the vulnerable and keep up the pretence that you are in some way "special." Renting an office and filling it with second rate furnishings doesn't make you better than the estate agents that chose to leave the High Street to work with Yopa, Purplebricks or any other hybrid or online agent. Try reading the article and research the source before making a comment or passing judgement. When was the last time you "hunted down a buyer?"

    Anthony Codling wants a share of your marketing spend and he's willing to compromise his integrity by telling you what you want to hear. Something High Street agents have been doing to their clients and prospective customers for years.

  • Babonday Brian

    Purplebricks aren't a tech company though. They are are a fake advert company, misleading the public better then the other online agents.


    Fake?? I can't say I'm surprised that you'd adopt a Donald Trump approach by denying the existence of a successful competitor.

  • icon

    "Purple Bricks top critic"

    Once folks have sold there house for £99 these people and their friends and families will never use an Estate Agent again.

    You Estate Agents sound like coal miners in the early 1970s and look where they are now. In the future 1 in 100 house sales will need an agent who's based locally, the rest will all be done by homeowners looking at comparables in their area and deciding what price to sell at.

    Before the "we add value by advising the homeowner / help the sale along / make sure the homeowner does not undersell" brigade turn up. Remember this, folks are not going to pay you 2% of their house value for creating what amounts to a Facebook page on Rightmove, those days are long gone and so too will most Estate Agents.

  • icon

    You have a gripe ????
    We High Street Agents will survive with our heads held high as we do a great job.
    Oh and before you reply.
    I have been doing this for over 20 years.
    Your having a laugh


    Yes Peter, sell your house for £99. Not advertising anyone on here so search: Doorsteps

    I sold a property In March with them, I was happy to value me own property; then we got an actual Estate Agent (jumped up Wally) out and he valued under valued it! We then put it up for sale for my valuation, and guess what, it sold within a month for my asking price and it cost me £99 to sell.

    Your Estate Agent days are all numbered. Like the Travel Agents before you, in a very few, short years, very few will want to pay 2% to sell their house.

    Once a person has sold for £99 they will never come back again to a bricks and mortar local Estate agent. Then they will tell all of their friends and family how easy it was and its game over for you lot.

    Don't worry though it'll come quick. It won't be a painful slow death like a lot of businesses, one day you'll drive down you local High Street and it'll have 5 Estate Agents, the year after it'll have 3. The year after that it'll have 1. And that agent will be heavily linked in with an online agent and cover a large area.

    Have a nice evening Peter.

  • icon

    You are kidding yourself on.
    My office is top notch.
    Oh and by the way.
    In Scotland our fees are lower than 1%.
    Not at the races in Scotland.


    I'm not really sure how your reply relates to my comment?

  • icon

    In your dreams

  • icon

    Jeff, youre quite clearly a receptionist (you class yourself as an estate agent but we all know none of you are) who works for doorsteps. Michelle you are quite clearly deluded. Admittedly, as a proper agent I was a little concerned that online receptionists would get a good grip of the market. They havent and the walls are caving in. Emoov was as good a second place as anyone in this space to purple bricks. They failed. The rest will also fail and then its PBs turn. All the negative publicity that will surround all of the onlines going down will eventually be the downfall of PB too as their fake oxygen will be cut.

    Thats all

  • Will H

    Back when i joined the industry three years ago (Still a baby, i know!) I went on a training course with one of the industry leaders in London. He said something that will stick with me;-
    "Within the next 10 years, Purple Bricks will cease to exist...The very next day we will be talking about [Insert colour of choice here] Bricks! I think that as long as one group of wealthy individuals has the vision of making Online agency's work they will always be around, just with different identity.

    ...They will be like that one family member at the Christmas dinner, you try to ignore them but they will always be in the room!


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