Purplebricks might have the last laugh - its biggest critic is ditching his High Street office and making his own agency online.
Controversial Cornish agent Chris Wood says that from the end of this week his PDQ Estates business - which in the autumn sold off its lettings book and which now has just 12 sales listings - is to be run from his home.
He's not going to use Rightmove or Zoopla and instead just use OnTheMarket. And instead of using a branch Wood says “we will be visiting clients in their homes, meeting in town over coffee as well as holding property surgeries in convenient locations.”
Wood, who set up the business in 1989, has in recent years made high profile social media attacks on what he has labelled “call centre” agencies which operate without traditional offices.
He lodged an unsuccessful complaint against Purplebricks with the Advertising Standards Authority and was in a long-running dispute with the ASA over an allegation he made in a blog concerning Purplebricks. A recent blog specifically criticised Purplebricks’ use of referral fees and for some years Wood has complained about the accuracy of Purplebricks’ reviews on the widely used Trustpilot service.
“Why do so many seem to think I am apparently anti ‘online’ / call-centre?” asks Wood in an email sent to journalists announcing that he’s setting up his own online operation and closing his only branch office.
“They don’t read what I repeatedly say. I am for all business models, as long as they trade honestly, within the rules and don’t make claims they can’t substantiate. If you know your local area well, know your job well, why in todays’ world of social media, 3D and 4K photography, must you have a high street presence?” he asks.
“I have always been a fan of the idea and the business model (despite what many may believe from my posts about ‘disruptors’)” he continues.
“I will undoubtedly lose some business from more traditional sellers, I am confident I will be able to more than offset this in other ways” explains Wood, who lists on Twitter that he is also managing director of a 3D interactive tour business.
Wood has in recent years also made a string of allegations about the National Association of Estate Agents after it did not allow him to stand as vice-president.
He also campaigned for action by Trading Standards to deter ‘portal juggling’ by agents who misled the public through the listing and delisting of homes on Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
More recently he has used social media to pledge a yellow vest “civil protest” if Brexit is, in his word, “betrayed.”