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Purplebricks boss slams agents as “miles behind” on digital personalisation

The chief executive of Purplebricks says agents are “miles behind” in using digital information to provide a personalised service. 

Vic Darvey has given an interview to marketing site The Drum: the piece begins with the peculiar claim that Purplebricks is “coming out on top against competitors like Zoopla and RightMove.”

It then goes on to say that Darvey’s ultimate goal as boss of the UK business is to “bring more transparency” to the house buying and selling process.


The interview refers to Purplebricks’ financial position as “looking up” and Darvey is quoted as saying: “We’re seen as a frontrunner in the tech space, but we also need to establish ourselves on the virtual high street and in communities.”

The piece says Darvey wants to highlight the fact that Purplebricks has 600 Local Property Experts “who can help it compete with rivals that have a local presence by offering pre, during and post-sale support.”

Darvey says Purplebricks is uniquely positioned to use the information gathered through its website and other digital activities to create an experience that “can’t be replicated on the high street.” 

He says: “What we’re moving towards will be more akin to providing the experiences you see in other categories. If you look at the likes of entertainment, Netflix is among those using much deeper personalisation powered by [Artificial Intelligence], for retail it’s Amazon Recommends.

“This personalisation is prevalent in all other categories and it has fundamentally changed the way people buy and sell goods. Estate agents are miles behind. 

“When we start to see ‘generation digital’ getting onto the housing ladder their expectations are going to be completely different. You can’t send them a conveyancing pack in the post and tell them to fill it in – the whole process is going to be online.”

Darvey adds that in five years’ time Purplebricks may be able to use data from buyers’ credit information to pre-approve mortgage options. 

“It’ll also have the ability to tell sellers how many potential buyers are in the market for a home like theirs, increasing the likelihood of a transaction occurring off-market. Augmented reality will help them view houses too, helping customers decide whether a physical viewing is needed” says the article.

You can see the whole thing for yourself, here.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Sounds to me that Vic Darvey was in the same darkened cinema auditorium where I was a few weeks ago eating popcorn whilst watching Mark Burgess say the same things about how estate agency is moving forward with AI and machine learning prior to unveiling his glistening Lifecycle offering. It was dark but I did not think I saw Vic there.

    The problem is Purplebricks has no cash to develop anything, it is a shame they burnt through 110M in less than two years on the their big global adventure. That cash could have put them in pole position.

    The reality now is they have missed their moment, and they will become a marginalised spent force, at best taken private by Axel Springer and servicing 4% of the market, the low fee vendors selling low fee stock.

    Rob Brady

    It was a great event exploring what is going to happen not if, whether that is with Purplebricks or another amazon type company who comes in and takes over another industry.

  • Michael Riley

    I say well done Vic.

    I'd rather hear from someone whose actually doing something about the future than yet another interview with an industry pundit or non-agent banging on about the changes that they are predicting but no real clue what that is going to look like or spade in the ground making it happen.

    PB will be the Countrywide of the future... a big unpivotable beast, churning through staff quicker than a blind butcher, but still struggling on like an overweight boxer who fancies their chances one last time.

  • Murray Lee

    We may be "way behind" but we are MILES in front on customer and personal services and viewings etc.
    You should hear one of my clients (whos flat we have now under offer)
    Felt she had thrown away £1400 and only had 2 viewings and no feedback etc
    Yesterday they suggested she dropped the price to £370,000 from £395,000


    I think PB are way behind in the REAL estate agency world

    Sadly the consumers dont find this out till its too late

    John  Savage

    Totally agree. hopefully the the £385 offer completed. Sounds like she deserved it... awesome job.

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    Just to say Purple Bricks has the most appalling property management, accounts and contracts departments I have ever come across before having been a landlord for 20 years with a huge staff turnover and total chaos - with management based in Birmingham and the local agent having no knowledge of local tradespeople. The incompetence and impersonalisation of a service that is led by computer systems that cannot do anything beyond a default setting is shocking - and sadly I would have to reccommend people to avoid this agency having had their incompetence actually damage my business and reputation as a landlord through their inability to follow through on repairs, contracts, rental statements or fully manage anything properly . - a problem I have not had with my 'high street' extrenely competent and competitively priced agent in London!

  • Paul Singleton

    He wants to be “more transparent”! Maybe start by telling customers what percentage of houses you ‘actually sell’. Maybe tell your customers all about your 1 star rating on AllAgents for ‘dreadful service’.
    Can help customers with “post sale Support”, I couldn’t get my breath. We’ve been chasing these clowns for a week now to check a chain, the whole chain is waiting because we simply can’t get any response. We NEVER have this issue with a High a Street agents.

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    The idea of using a call centre for what is possibly the biggest and most important transaction in life is just ludicrous!

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    Just remind me, how many houses has this guy sold in his career?

  • Phil Hathway

    I only take notice of people who run business' that actually make a profit. If the referral fee ban comes in their significant 'hidden" income will disappear. They won't be here in 5 years - certainly not in their current form.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Had an interesting twitter exchange with a former PB client the other day- he had a horrendous experience with their lettings & management operation. Did praise their tech but said that there was no human side/support and so felt let down, disappointed and out of pocket (and was still battling with them over certain charges). The reality is, moving forwards, the future of agency IS a successful blend of tech and people working harmoniously to give a successful, professional service with a personal underpinning. Whilst agents often get criticised for now embracing tech fast enough- many online operators can equally be criticised for not deliverinbg the personal, full-service high st agents do (despite their claims to the contrary).

    Rob Brady

    Completely agree. Within the digital transformation, you need people in companies to embrace it before its too late and discover the hybrid between tech and the human aspect. understanding their identity, purpose and the ability to communicate personalised messages to their audience. Using tech to help with time on admin and automation plus to work out all the unstructured big data flowing into their business in a way the human brain can use it.

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    I've just gone over my notes from Iceberg's conference a couple of weeks ago. Has he just copied Mark Burgess on all of this?

    Rob Brady

    I think so although still won’t have our tech to implement it unlike you David

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    They did,by even interview me for a Gloucestershire role even though I have experience!!!!

  • Lee James  Pendleton

    All those who got let go today at PB wish you all good luck. Anyone who wants a true property position give me a shout.

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    How can this guy say these things and keep a straight face? Miles behind on digital, they haven't even started the race on knowing what a good agent does. One of my sellers who is buying from them got this, in writing.... 'We find sales proceed quicker when the seller and buyer communicate with each other directly. A direct request from a buyer to a seller or vice versa can often get their conveyancer and mortgage broker to do things faster. here are your seller's contact details....' This is after a horrendous service getting the viewing and the offer put forward. Digital yes, personal? Laughable how wrong they have got service levels. As for the next generation of buyers, they may be tech savvy but in my experience so far they are way more demanding and expecting of a better service than the generations before.


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