Purplebricks’ decision to de-list a property after the Christian vendors made anti-gay comments has won widespread support from industry figures, including the chief of a rival firm.
Sam Mitchell, chief executive of Strike - another online agency, widely regarded as the second most successful in the UK after Purplebricks itself - tweeted: “Good for you @purplebricksuk. Doth of the cap from the team here “
Prominent industry trainer Richard Rawlings, in a comment on Estate Agent Today, said: “As a Christian myself, I find this form of extremism embarrassing and very much at odds with Jesus’ teaching … I don’t think he would have approved of this stance by the vendors. Disgraceful!”
The results of a poll on EAT suggest that some 78 per cent of readers backed the Purplebricks stance, saying that vendors should not be allowed to discriminate against vendors on the basis of their sexuality. Another 18 per cent felt vendors should be able to discriminate, while four per cent said they did not know.
At the end of last week the Daily Mail reported that purchasers Luke Whitehouse and Lachlan Mantell were told that they could not even visit a three-bedroom £650,000 home in Surrey as the vendors were opposed to 'two men in a partnership.’
The request to view by the gay couple - arranged through Purplebricks - was turned down, and the vendor sent messages including one that read: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
A social media statement made to the prospective buyers by the agency reads: “Thanks for sharing this message Lachlan and we're so sorry you've had this experience. This stance is completely opposed to our views and values. We'll refund this seller's fee as Purplebricks no longer wish to list it.”
And a Purplebricks public statement says: “The sentiments expressed in this message are completely opposed to Purplebricks' views and values. We have contacted the seller to return their fee and request that they sell their property with a different agent.”
The incident echoes a long-standing dispute involving a Belfast bakery which eight years ago refused to supply a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage”.
The bakery won its case in the UK Supreme Court in 2018 and again in the European Court of Human Rights earlier this month.