The market share for all online agents fell sharply in the period up to the start of the pandemic according to new research - with Purplebricks a big loser.
The data comes from the agency comparison service GetAgent, compiled from an analysis of major portals cross-referenced with Land Registry and other information.
GetAgent says the total share of all online agencies dropped from a peak of 6.35 per cent in September 2018 to just 4.8 per cent in February 2020 - the last representative market period before the Coronavirus pandemic.
Purplebricks remains the dominant online player but has suffered badly according to the analysis.
Its monthly listings, which peaked over two years ago at 6,358 in April 2018, now runs at 4,400 a month on average during January and February 2020.
Purplebricks’ market share peaked at 4.25 per cent in August 2019 but was only 3.45 per cent in January and February this year.
The comparison site says its analysis of Purplebricks’ listings in the 2019 calendar year suggests the agency will see a reduction in revenue of some £7.18m compared to 2018.
GetAgent calculates this revenue reduction based on an average fee to Purplebricks of £1,100; in 2018 Purplebricks had 65,279 listings against only 58,162 last year.
And GetAgent warns that the 2019 monthly average for Purplebricks - some 4,846 properties - was not matched in the two months of 2020 before the pandemic hit. In January and February this year Purplebricks had an average 4,400 listings per month.
Looking at the wider market for all online agents, the comparison site says there were 17,286 fewer listings in 2019 than in 2018.
It says Yopa listings were down 21 per cent year-on-year and its market share dipped from 0.65 per cent to 0.61 per cent.
HouseSimple, by contrast, was up a huge 156 per cent year-on-year and its market share rose from 0.21 per cent to 0.61 per cent. “However, this increase is at the expense of actual revenue given that they became a free service in 2019” notes the report from GetAgent.
“Estate agency as a whole has never been short of its critics but this criticism certainly seems to have shifted towards online and hybrid agents over the last few years” says Colby Short, founder of GetAgent.
“This is always going to happen as an industry evolves and there is no doubting that the online model provides a very cost-effective method of transacting when compared to the traditional agent” he adds.
“However, this more DIY approach to selling does have its pitfalls. Many customers feel as though they’ve been left a little high and dry when it comes to the completion of a sale and that they didn’t achieve the price they would have otherwise.
“This seems to have had a knock-on effect on the popularity of online agents with even the industry leader, Purplebricks, seeing a steady decline in business.
“With yet more uncertainty now shrouding the market, it’s likely that many home sellers will value the professionalism, service and accountability that comes with a traditional agent and the online market share will continue to suffer as a result.”