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He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy

Preface:

This article serves as a call for honesty and transparency for “disruptor organisations” entering the real estate industry.

This article has been extensively researched.

A number of topics presented below have been gleaned from other Purplebricks discussion articles on the web, many of whom appear to no longer be available.

The following is an honest opinion piece based solely on the findings of this research, and tempered from years of exposure to the real estate industry.

Readers are encouraged, however, to perform their own investigations when coming to any conclusions regarding PurpleBricks.

An Old Man’s Discussion: AVOID PURPLEBRICKS

He’s Not Dead Yet

Why bother to write this article?

As a retired Australian Realtor, the real estate industry has been good to me. I’ve sold many homes, made many great friends, and always felt appreciative of the people that trusted me to sell their family homes. These people believed in me, put their confidence in me to do the very best I could for them, and trusted I would get them the best result the market could provide. That’s what I believe makes a good agent: one that appreciates the trust shown in them and provides the best service, and uses every skill they’ve acquired over many years to bring home an outstanding result.

Avoid PurpleBricks

Avoid PurpleBricks.

(Logo used for identification purposes only)

What is a Quality Agent?

Answer me these questions three.

Traditional real estate fees are seen by some members of the public as a substantial, sometimes unwarranted expense

Having worked in the industry however, I’ve often found that as these people become sellers, many for the first time, they become aware of the large volume of work a quality realtor performs. The hours invested in home opens, current market analysis, marketing preparation, ongoing marketing strategies, property viewings, pre settlement inspections, building reports, seller feedback, general communication and buyer follow up, and the coordination of the above is enormous.

The best agents usually have decade’s worth of networking and negotiation expertise to call upon. They have at their disposal a web of properties looking to come to market, and buyers looking for just the right home. A true local expert understands what is available and what is achievable in the market, and the buyer expectations of the same. They serve as a testament to why the best agents specialise in a specific region / suburb. All have exceptional people skills and know how it works in their local market. Advice at this level is priceless. These skills are impossible to learn quickly, can’t be simply purchased, and are not something you can Google.
Considering further how the modern agent is available pretty much 24/7, the job is a massive personal and professional commitment.
All of the above are readily undertaken by the best agents to guarantee people selling in the current market get the best possible service and result the industry has to provide.

Quality service and results at this level requires equivalent levels of payment!
The great thing is a good agent will more than recoup their selling fees by providing the best sales result possible in the market. That’s what you pay for: the peace of mind knowing your agent delivered top dollar.

So what has this got to do with Purple Bricks?

What does Purple Bricks offer? :

Well, you need to know these things when you’re a King, you know.

A brief history:
PurpleBricks version 1.0 in Australia was by every conceivable measure an absolute, diabolical failure.
It failed so completely at one stage their staff / management /agent turn over rivalled their property listings. Rumours abound of sellers “never seeing the same agent twice”. Stories of agents getting lost, not being able to find a listing location, and simply never turning up for home opens are common place. Speaking to ex PB agents, they had been promised the moon by PB management, and were uniformly disappointed, disillusioned, and soon broke and looking for other work.
So much for the “sell your home for a flat fee of $4500”.
It didn’t work, and simply affirmed what many agents and members of the public thought: too good to be true & you get what you pay for.

Enter PurpleBricks version 2.0:
Private treaty selling with a $2400-$4400 upfront fee (non refundable), and a further $4400-$6400 payable on successful sale (depending on which side of Australia you are).
Purple Bricks claim to provide a complete sales service from appraisal right through to settlement. You are allocated to one of their local experts. Sale boards, printing, photography and digital advertising are included in this one low fee. There is nothing more to spend. Save yourself thousands in real estate selling fees! Their Local Property Experts will get you the best result. That’s the claim.

Here’s the thing:

The meaning of life?

PurpleBricks aren’t as cheap as they used to be. In fact many current traditional agents will provide cheaper services on cheap properties.
Regardless, let’s get to the nitty gritty.

       Avoid PurpleBricks

(Logo used for identification purposes only)

Purple Bricks vs Traditional Agents

Nobody Expects a Spanish Inquisition.

Fees:
PB: With PB, you always pay. The minute a seller signs the PurpleBricks sales agreement, they are financially liable for the $2400 - $4400 service & advertising charge. No matter what happens, you owe them. Sell or not sell, you will always have to pay the PB fee.

Traditional Agent: If you property doesn’t sell with traditional agents, the only thing you pay is the advertising fee.

Agent Property Work load:
PB: PB agents get paid far less per listing than the traditional agent. To compensate, they have to run with far more listings (many have 30 or more). As such, their focus is solely on listing as many properties as they are able. The majority of their time is consumed preparing and undertaking property appraisals, with far less time to service existing sellers. Considering most have large service areas encompassing many suburbs, trying to provide full service for 30 properties is a HUGE ask for an agent focusing on a single suburb, let alone the PB agent trying to cover a multitude of scattered suburbs.

Traditional Agent: run with far less listings, often specialising in a particular suburb, giving them time to fully service your home.

Quality of Agents:
PB: Fact: The low pay structure of the Purple Bricks model does not attract quality realtors. However, despite plenty of evidence clearly demonstrating current PB agents performing poorly in previous traditional real estate careers, PB advertises the agents it attracts are of the highest possible calibre. This is simply not the case. I’m not claiming these guys aren’t good people and won’t do their best to sell your home, many seem to be as much a victim of PB spin as the vendors, but successful agents would NEVER join PB as the financial incentives are simply not there. You may notice a few exceptions to the above rule: a few “high flyers” amongst otherwise unknown agents at PB. Rumours have circulated citing substantial bonuses for these agents to join PB in order to promote the brand.

Traditional Agent: The traditional real estate model attracts the industries best performing, and most capable agents.

Agents as Local Area Experts:
PB claim their agents are local area experts. However, PB agents are assigned a large service region, making this claim unlikely and impractical. A number of independent review sites openly discuss how little some PB agents know of their assigned locations.
From a UK article on the subject:
In the case of Purplebricks, there is an ongoing issue of whether their self-described LPEs (Local Property Experts) are classed in law as local or, indeed, as ‘experts’. Purplebricks have since removed this claim (from the UK web) but were only recently advertising for new LPEs’ to join the firm with an immediate start but with “no experience required”
Does this sound like PB are employing highly successful, experienced local agents?

Traditional agent: tend to specialise in one particular suburb with a few surrounding pockets. These are the true Local Property Experts.

Home Opens:
PB: It appears PBs are under no obligation to open your home continuously should it fail to sell. From the PB web: “Following the end of the Marketing Period, your Local Real Estate Agent will be available to conduct Private Inspections, and if considered reasonably necessary, additional Open Homes.” This is wobbly talk for “price your home to meet the market, or we will no longer open your home”. Given the high number of listings PB agents need to run with, seller’s home opens will be many weeks apart at best, and will eventually stop all together.

Traditional Agent: often open homes fortnightly (even weekly in hot market).

Settlement Process:
PB: agents have little direct involvement in the settlement process. The online portal provides document transfer and storage, but the majority of the settlement process must be handled by the sellers and their lawyers. Many complaints exist online regarding the impersonal nature of this aspect of their service model, with many sellers expressing a feeling of abandonment. Additionally, sellers are contracted to use the PB settlement service if the selling fee is not paid at the start of the sales process. If you pay up front you can choose your own settlement service. PB get a 15% referral fee from their recommended settlement service.

Traditional Agent: Walk you through the settlement process and handle everything. Choose whichever settlement agency you wish.

Agent Availability:
PB: One of the most consistent online complaints regarding PB is agent communication. A buyer must place a request with PB call centre in order to contact the agent. Buyers are never given the agent’s mobile number. Buyers claim calls are never returned, and agents simply never turn up. Others resort to knocking on the seller’s door out of complete frustration. This inability to contact agents directly is seen as a substantial issue for buyers. This is unheard of in the traditional industry.

Traditional Agent: always available. You’ve got their mobile.

Professional Opinion of the REAL PurpleBricks Model: Avoid PurpleBricks

Let Me Go back in there and Face the Peril

PB V2.0 has upped their game. Still, this is to be expected considering they are substantially more expensive than V1.0. Having said this, in the cheaper suburbs, many traditional agents are already at the PB pricing point, so the “savings” claim is far less relevant here.

As an ex-industry professional, I believe an agent would only consider joining PB as a last resort: a last ditched effort to earn money in the real estate industry where they have been unable to foster a client base. In the past, struggling realtors eventually left the industry. PB has given these failing agents another option: we hand you the listings, and pay you a lower flat fee to provide the service. The catch: you’ve got to run with many more listing s than usual.

It follows that sellers using PB will not receive the services of the best agents available in the industry. To the contrary, PB agents are expected to become low paid, high volume, large service area “concept” salesmen whose primary focus is to convince potential sellers PB are just as good as a quality tradition agent. As such, any chance a seller had receiving maximum market value for their property when using a PB agent is practically zero. They simply don’t have the time to fully negotiate deals (and anyone telling you the best deal can be negotiated via a web portal is a time poor twat waffle)

PB claim their cheap fees are the result of removing “expensive local offices” from the equation. This is not relevant in the current industry. The largest, successful real estate firms have long been providing legal and admin services from a centralized hub. Local offices are disappearing, being replaced by local specialists that live and work in the area, often from specialised home offices.

Ask the PB agent that services your area where he / she lives. You may be surprised.

How does PurpleBricks get away with the dodgy, misleading advertising?

Run Away! Run Away!

PB has a demonstrable history of litigation against websites, blogs and press that attempt to put its services under the microscope. PB is a multinational, Billion dollar publically listed company and uses all the clout of a high powered international legal firm to bully publishers into withdrawing content, under the threat of prolonged (expensive) litigation (lawfare), and legal injunctions. Though most articles appear to contain reasonable opinion and fact, the threat of extensive litigation persists and the articles removed.

PB doesn’t have it all its own way though. A number of cases exist whereby competitors have complained to consumer watchdogs of false and misleading advertising practices, with many of these being upheld by the courts. Most cases did not attract media attention and PB continues its operations practically unaffected in the public’s eye.

Their previous widely marketed TV ad coining the term “commisery” is a prime example. The claim of selling your home without commission is both misleading and confusing. Rumours currently abound that the ACCC is investigating complaints regarding this ad.

The current run of ads deriding the traditional agent as an “old fashion commission collector” seems farcical given PB V2.0 is almost twice as expensive as the much touted PV V1.0. Looks like PB have learnt the hard way it takes time and effort to sell a home. Not quite so cheap now, are they?

Then there’s this lovely rubbery statistic of “90% of people who sold with PB would use them again”. Should this stat prove correct, the question begs: What of the people that didn’t sell? Historically PB has a poor clearance rate compared to the traditional industry. Pretty sure there’s a large swath of angry people that will never us PB again.

PurpleBricks Digital Dictatorship & Corporate Image Manipulation:

The Judean Peoples Front

Purplebricks spend huge amounts to meticulously control its online profile.

Facebook comments are often moderated, to the point that many articles read like one continuous company advertisement.
PB Google My Business review platform is disabled.
PB Facebook review platform is disabled.

Why do this? Simple. Google My Business and Facebook reviews can’t be deleted. Once submitted, reviews can’t be tampered with. The only option left for anyone receiving bad reviews is to reply and argue their case. Any negative reviews on these platforms would remain forever.

PurpleBricks Must Be Amazing: So many Positive TrustPilot Reviews!: Avoid PurpleBricks

Blessed are the Cheese Makers

The jewel in PB feedback crown centres entirely around the reviews they receive on Trustpilot. These are advertised everywhere: Facebook, TV ads, Website

Put Simply: Trustpilot reviews are largely meaningless. Trustpilot has a long and chequered history of allowing reviews to be manipulated in favour of its paying customers. Fake reviews swamp its entire platform. This tampering has been shown to extend as far as industrial scale off shore fake review fabrication, to more subtle levels of deleting bad reviews by questioning their authenticity. Trustpilot as a review platform has no credibility. Experts consider TrustPilot to be part of a wider, fraudulent positive review cash cow industry with one purpose: to deceive the consumer with “unbiased reviews” paid for by organisations gaming the system. Search “trustpilot complaints”. Evidence abounds. Furthermore: PB actively charged their agents with getting as many TrustPilot reviews as possible from clients they have just signed up! That's right. PB are chasing reviews at the very BEGINNING of the sales process. This chasing of early reviews is so culturally entrenched in the PB organization that monthly awards are given to the agent procuring the most reviews!

Search “PurpleBricks Reviews”. Look at any review site besides TrustPilot. Here you will begin to see the true picture of the service PB provides. (examples below)

Sadly, any genuine positive reviews are a painful reminder of the numbers of naive, trusting individuals that have been drawn into believing they have saved thousands of dollars by focusing solely on the upfront fees, yet have likely lost large sums of money by employing a sub standard sales agent, and a company whose entire market focus is on high volume turn over.

Lies, Misinformation and Manipulation: The Complete Underbelly

With Nasty, Big, Pointy Teeth:

I believe the manner in which PB portray their services to the public is misleading.

As a pragmatist I have no issue with new players coming into an industry and offering an alternative concept of service, however, when this alternative then actively promotes itself as a superior replacement for its competitors, while providing an inferior service and outcome, its actions must be called to answer.

Pb use the media to actively manipulate the public perception of its services. These services, whilst logically inferior, are presented as equivalent or superior to traditional real estate services. PBs is simply not equivalent to a traditional real estate agency.

By advertising cheap fees and cheaply employing agents that struggled in previous real estate employment, vendors are signed to a high volume model where some fees are payable regardless of sales outcome. PB agents further claim to be Local Property Experts despite being assigned huge service areas encompassing many suburbs. PB then claim to achieve an equivalent or superior sales result to the traditional high quality realtor, a claim that is impossible to verify, by all reasoning false, but one they insist is fact.

The devious nature of this strategy is now demonstrable. By focusing the seller’s attention on the agent fee structure, PB actively divert seller focus from the most crucial aspect of any real estate transaction: The final price a seller receives for their home. Real Estate Professionals consider the only way to maximize this figure is to employ the services of the best realtor in your area. Reputations like these are built over many, many years on outstanding service & results, and are not the sort of reputations associated with the agents drawn to the employ of PB. The difference between the price achieved using a top realtor vs an underperforming counterpart is often many tens of thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands for multimillion dollar properties)

Fact: The most valuable agent is the one that delivers the best result overall, not the cheapest fees.

PB have meticulously designed their business model to take advantage of the naive sellers who remain oblivious to this fact. They profit directly from the ignorance of unsuspecting sellers bombarded with flashy marketing and the promise of low fees.

Avoid PurpleBricks

Avoid PurpleBricks.

(Logo used for identification purposes only)

Conclusion:

Brave Sir Robyn ran away. Bravely Ran Away.

The article was penned to provide the alternative facts to the slick media spin and crafted persona of PB.

We’re all intelligent adults here (well, perhaps not I), so I’ll leave it to you to decide if their cut price, high volume service model is right for you. At least with this article in circulation, people can make a more balanced and informed decision.

Sure, PBs claim to have a few other points of difference: an online portal to see how your home sale is progressing, 24/7 admin services etc. Some of these claims are misleading (current realtors provide these services anyway), and for the remainder, fundamentally none will help you get a better sales result. Most are presented solely as a distraction to the big issue of cheap agents and cheaper results.

Would I use PurpleBricks? No. I prefer to let the proven, top performing professionals handle the big things in my life where ever possible. After all, cheaper options are available for most financial decisions, but folks are smart enough to understand that cheaper usually equates to inferior

I’m sure the sceptics among you will be thinking “He’s an ex agent, you can’t trust him, he’s biased!” If so, it’s because I did my professional best for the people that trusted me with the sale of their homes, and I know categorically firsthand how much value a good agent returns to their sellers.

Others might be thinking: “But agents don’t do much anyway. I know the value of my home. Normal real estate agent fees are too high”.
If you believe this, why use any agent at all? Sell it yourself. There’s heaps of ForSalebyOwner organisation out there. If you believe a top agent adds nothing to the sales process, DIY is for you! Knock yourself out!

The reality is, not many people choose to sell their own home. It appears that fundamentally, sellers understand that using an agent is likely to get them a better sales result. I’m just here to remind you that in order for you to get the best sales result, take the time to find the best agent in your area. Use an accredited independent ratings organisation (but read the fine print, some of these can be dodgy too). Research, research, research!

TIP: Take the time to find the BEST agent servicing your area.



Final Thoughts

You know what really grinds my gears? It’s the sheer arrogance of PB.

They cavort into the Australian real estate industry, claiming ground breaking technologies, and how Australians are getting ripped off, in the process deriding every existing agent with claims of overcharging.
Then their business model falls into a heap. Not just any heap mind you, possibly one of the biggest corporate real estate failures in modern history.
It was absolute garbage at all levels: management right through to agents.
A train wreck.... one of the nasty ones with crying kids and sad puppies.
A toxic, tire filled dumpster fire disguised as a K-Mart real estate agency.
You get the idea.

So how did the erudite Titans steering this dumpster fire choose to proceed?

By doubling their fees and doubling down on their claims that every traditional agent out there was ripping off the poor public.

*sigh*
PB have learnt absolutely nothing.
Nadda.
Zip

Well, as momma said: “you can’t teach stupid”.
Were the Bruce brothers dropped on their heads as nippers?
Did they somehow think the rules of Free Market Capitalism didn’t apply prior to their arrival?
That the local agency scene was somehow ruled by an oligarchy hell bent on artificially inflating the cost of selling a home?
Of course not: the market value of an agent’s service is set by the free market system. People pay traditional agents the agreed upon fee because no one could provide the equivalent level of service and results at a cheaper price. Period.

Spelling it out.

Fees are a small part of the overall real estate equation, yet PB make it ALL about the fees.

This is where they come undone.
PB could have relaunched as a budget real estate service offering an economical way to sell your home, within their specifications & abilities. Instead they once again claim to provide a superior option, choose to lambast traditional agents as the rip off merchants, while artificially elevating the public’s expectation of their service model, a level of service they will not be able to provide.
Sound familiar?
That’s right, this is exactly how they launched PB V1.0

It’s Groundhog Day.

The PB dumpster fire wasn’t put out, it was just given a new paint job and a dangly air freshener.

Thanks for reading,

and remember:

Always look on the bright side of life.

Avoid PurpleBricks

Avoid PurpleBricks.

(Logo used for identification purposes only)



In Summary:

DO NOT USE PURPLE BRICKS IF YOU WANT PROFESSIONAL, QUALITY SERVICE, OR THE BEST PRICE FOR YOUR HOME. THE MONEY YOU SAVE ON FEES YOU WILL LIKELY LOSE MANY TIMES OVER ON SALE PRICE. PUT SIMPLY: AVOID PURPLEBRICKS

Do you know?

PurpleBricks has an ongoing legacy of self promotion using claims they are unwilling or unable to substantiate.

A search on “purplebricks complaints” will provide a litany of issues being raised, including the following allegations:

  • The use of Unqualified / Inexperienced staff working as Local Property Experts
  • Properties frequently re-listed to give the appearance of New Listings ie: Portal Juggling
  • The Blocking of Facebook Reviews as Uncomplimentary Comments dominated.
  • Allegations of money offered to publishers to remove negative reviews.
  • High pressure tactics used on sellers to purchase additional services
  • Customers threatened with legal action for posting negative reviews on social media
  • Bloggers threatened with Libel over questions regarding PB Agent’s Qualifications.
  • Publishers presenting inconvenient facts or asking awkward questions threatened with legal action
  • Implicit in the Blatant Doctoring & Fabrication of thousands of fake TrustPilot Reviews
  • Previously and currently subject to Multiple Investigations for Misleading and Deceptive Advertising
  • Caught Quoting misleading Sales Data to Artificially Inflate Market Position
  • Results demonstrate lower sales prices achieved using disruptors like Purple Bricks

Honest, independent Review sites and articles regarding Purple Bricks.

Note: this list was compiled around 12 months ago. Since then a number of them have been removed, likely following legal intimidation by PB

Review website showing a 1.24 / 5 star rating for Purple Bricks based on 172 reviews:
https://www.allagents.co.uk/purplebricks/

Reviews from ProductReview. Purplebricks have basically given up trying to answer the negative reviews: https://www.productreview.com.au/listings/purplebricks

REMOVED - Three complaints have been upheld against Purplebricks by the advertising watchdog. As a result Purplebricks must not repeat some claims that were in a TV advert:
http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/three-complaints-upheld-by-advertising-watchdogagainst-purplebricks/

REMOVED - Purplebricks “savings claim” banned for substantiation failings:
http://marketinglaw.osborneclarke.com/advertising-regulation/purplebricks-saving-claimbanned-substantiation-failings/

Purplebricks will likely replicate its losses revealed in its home country, Britain, according to a leading Australian property industry executive:
http://www.propertyobserver.com.au/forward-planning/investment-strategy/property-newsand-insights/64375-purplebricks-low-cost-model-not-working-in-australia-first-nationalceo.html

REMOVED - PurpleBricks reported to the National Trading Standards:
https://www.mcewanfraserlegal.co.uk/blog/purplebricks-reported-national-tradingstandards/

Complaints regarding the levels of service provided by PurpleBricks:
https://www.aspokesmansaid.com/complaint/55c85e442e12ae0fd81a15bd/paid-for-failure

REMOVED - Independent agents group CIELA release text of complaint letter to PurpleBricks
https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/3/independent-agents-releasetext-of-complaint-letter-to-purplebricks

Scathing Company startup & online review platform irregularities for purplebricks.com:
https://medium.com/@samuelsmith_55841/the-developing-imminent-disaster-that-ispurplebricks-com-6e1ae4fc603c

Study showing sellers getting far lower prices for their homes by using disruptors like PurpleBricks:
http://www.afr.com/real-estate/residential/prdnationwide-claims-disruptors-such-aspurplebricks-achieve-lower-prices-20170324-gv5m3o

Purplebricks to pay $20,000 fine after action by Queensland’s consumer watchdog
https://www.smartcompany.com.au/business-advice/legal/purplebricks-penalty-queensland-fair-trading/

PB reviews by Sitejabber
https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/purplebricks.com

'They're not real agents': REIWA calls for probe into Purplebricks
https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/they-re-not-real-agents-reiwa-calls-for-probe-into-purplebricks-20180613-p4zl8x.html