We interview Kevin, an Ex Purplebricks Agent and Client!

Written by Estate Agent Networking UK on - Industry Interviews -
I noticed some of Kevin Ray’s videos on Youtube from property video tours under the PurpleBrick branding to leaving feedback on how their services worked for him during his house sale – I thought I would get some answers from someone who has seen both sides of Purplebricks, ie the selling as an agent to the selling as a consumer:
You have used Purplebricks to sell your property, was this a professional service throughtout (not comparing it to services outside the UK)?
The service we received from Purplebricks was pretty good all things considered, depending on what expectations you would have had going into it. To be fair, I told my agent that she did not need to contact me or check in with me unless she had something important that I needed to know and since I elected to conduct my own viewings, the Purplebricks system sends all of the viewing requests directly to the seller for scheduling so I did not need to speak with my agent for any reason. When the offer came through, it came directly to me and I was able to negotiate directly with the buyers. In my case, that worked out great but I can see a potential downside to that if the seller is less comfortable with that process and needs guidance and direction. But I think all in all their system is very good and really addresses some of the major concerns the general public in England has with estate agents, and that is that as a seller you aren’t relying on your agent and how responsive they are and whether or not they really know what they are doing.

You have left several random videos on Youtube on the topic of Purplebricks, what is your reasoning behind this, ie to educate others, to share your feedback or maybe it is to promote Purplebricks?
Some of the negatives with regards to the service we received were that the agent tried to over-value our property by about £20k – £30k, even after we spoke on the phone prior to the valuation and we discussed the price. At the time of the phone conversation, we had both researched the area and both had come to the same price. When she showed up she suggested that I raise the price. I think a lot of people would have done that because it sounds great to get £30k more than you were expecting. The truth is that my home would still be on the market and likely not even had a showing by now because there was no legitimate or factual data to justify that price. That is exactly why (one of the most compelling reasons anyway) estate agents have such a bad reputation. That, in my opinion, is lacking in professionalism.
My reasoning for posting the videos was quite simply because Purplebricks is such a polarizing company and their business model is so hated by the established High Street agents that I thought some people might be interested to see and hear how the process went from someone who used them. I have, for a long time, been quite active on social media and just figured it might be something people would be interested in. I see Chistopher Watkin posting constantly about how to beat Purplebricks and I hear how other agents spend more time in their valuations talking about how horrible PB is than they spend telling people about themselves and their own agency so I figured people might want to hear the good and the bad honestly.

Are you/ have you been in anyway connected to Purplebricks ie an agent / marketeer?
I did work for Purplebricks very briefly in June and July of 2017. To be quite honest, I loved the fact that there was no office that I was required to show up at by 8:30 in the morning, and no old guy in a cheap, stained suit asking me why my tie wasn’t tight and my top button wasn’t buttoned. I appreciated that PB has identified the fact that many people are not available between 9am and 6pm to look for houses. I honestly have a hard time understanding why most estate agents still hold on so tightly to antiquated ideas of how to run their businesses.
I left PB in early Aug 2017 when it had become obvious that I was not going to get along with them and their corporate folks (way too many double standards and way too much focus on the Bruce boys and that it was not at all the entrepreneurial and self driven environment I had hoped it would be. When I instructed PB to sell our house I really had a strong distaste for them as a company, but I liked their fee and really just wanted my house on Rightmove so I decided to use them. I am in no way affiliated with them and not compensated by them. I was given very meager compensation by them for the time I worked for them but that ended when I resigned.
Where do you see the UK property industry being in 5 years time, will it be more of the same or will hybrid / online have taken a far greater percentage of the market with Purplebricks still exisiting and potnetially in profit?
I expect that in 5 years time, PB will be much larger in the UK than they are right now even and I would also expect other similar agencies to pop up. I would hope, and advise, that the established High Street agencies revamp and re-tool their operations and start to explore the areas in which PB are running circles around them. The simple fact of the matter is that home searches are conducted online and not at the desk of the agent. They are also conducted at 7pm, and that is also when the buyers come up with questions like “when can I see it?”, why not be available at that time (or like PB, give the potential buyer the ability to schedule the viewing right then and there).
I am quite certain that PB will still be around in 5 years. As to the profit, I really don’t know. The weakness I see in them is that they have (in my opinion) a pretty reckless growth plan, and that carries a lot of risk in my opinion. They openly state that they want to take the whole industry over and run High Street agents out of business. I would rather see them take the approach of wanting to be the best over the biggest.
I would love to see some more regulations put on the industry in England including higher standards of practice and potentially licensing requirements for agents. As bad as that might sound to the status quo, it will only improve the reputations of the agents and agencies and also improve the general level of satisfaction of the public. If the agents were held to a more robust code of ethics and standards or practice I would expect the public to look to them as professionals instead of parasites.
Why should someone consider using Purplebricks over any other traditional method of selling / buying property?
Very generally speaking, I would urge people to consider Purplebricks for one simple reason… Rightmove. The cheapest way you can find to get on Rightmove, the better. I admit that this statement is completely discounting all of the agents who really do hold their clients in high regard and that do provide a valuable service to their customers. Those however, are not the ones the industry is known for in England.
Other than that, PB’s web portal gives you up to the minute, 24 hours a day access to a lot of information that a home seller would find useful; how visible your property is online, names and phone numbers of the people wanting to view it, the ability to schedule those viewing directly with the potential buyers, the ability for potential buyers to ask you questions directly, the ability to negotiate the sale directly with the buyer and the ability to change your price, add your own photos or edit your listing directly through the website.

In conclusion:
If you paid attention, in my videos I actually have said more than once that PB is “full of shit” but I still like what they offer. I think their 12 step, over-rehearsed (in fact it is required that their “Local Property Experts” learn a 45 minutes sales pitch verbatim before they pass their initiation and can work for PB in the field) is a load of self serving bullshit on the part of the Bruce brothers (pardon my language, but I am an American and we love our colorful expressions). I have a lot more negative opinions of PB to get into in one email, so I am in no way loyal to them or wanting to promote them in any way. My desire is simply to be part of the discussion because I feel I have a pretty broad base of experience having been in this industry, and very actively so for such a long time.
Kevin Ray.


Author: Estate Agent Networking UK

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