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Agencies & People

Purplebricks to end long years of being industry ‘hate figure’

New marketing chief says he realises Commisery "did not land well" with other agents, but wants to move on after the 'start-up disruptor' years.

Nigel Lewis


Purplebricks says it wants to stop being the hate figure of the property industry and enter a new era of friendly but keen competition with both its traditional and hybrid rivals.

Not all agents may welcome the company into the industry fold willingly after its ‘Commisery’ TV and newspaper adverts, but recently-arrived chief marketing office Ben Carter, who used to work at Just Eat, says he realises his predecessor’s Commisery ads “did not land well” with the industry when they were running during the late noughties.

“Technology and the internet has allowed a company like Purplebricks to come in and change the way home buying and selling is done, but it doesn’t mean we need to be hated,” he says.

Carter claims Purplebricks wants to be seen as the UK’s largest tech-led estate agency but still as part of the overall sector, and its effort to lobby government over the stamp duty deadline extension were part of that.

“On the one hand we want to have more constructive discussions with the industry, but on the other hand keep in mind that we’re all competing for the same instructions,” he says.

Carter says other changes are afoot at the agency, including a planned shift in its pricing and proposition.

As The Negotiator reported last year, Purplebricks has been experimenting with its fees structure, and Carter says all will be revealed soon, including a shift in its proposition to a more tech-led advertising emphasis.

“At the moment, although most people now know us and our brand, they still perceive as a price-led estate agent, but instead we’re going to talk more about empowering buyers and sellers with tech,” he says.

Carter sites its upgrade app, which now enables vendors to accept offers and talk directly to their chain.

“We want the process to be more transparent for everyone. At the moment the time after an offer has been offered is still a black hole.”

It’s easy to see why the hybrid agency employed Carter – while at Just Eat the percentage of people ordering food online jumped from 15% to 50%, a transformation they’re hoping Purplebricks can emulate in the housing market.

March 23, 2021


  1. Yes i can totally see how a guy who works for a takeaway food ordering service can adapt that to property sales. As for increasing Just Eats online orders from 15% to 50% in the time he was there Dec 2019 to Nov 2020 well done!!! Hang about wasn’t there a pandemic from March onwards, didn’t restaurants, pubs etc etc close down and start doing takeaways? Were people told to stay at home? Didn’t just about every man and his hungry dog start to order takeaway? Well blow me away ‘Just Eat’ managed to increase numbers from 15% to 50%! ‘Just to’ compare, Deliveroo increased there makes by 64% in 2020 and ‘Just so’ there is fair comparison Ubereats have reported a 150% increase in 2020. Now i’m sure Ben is a great journalist and a well respected marketeer (although difficult to see much about his CV on Linkedin) but i do think it’s a bit presumptuous and almost arrogant to say you’re going to change perceptions, especially when any experienced estate agent in the country doesn’t consider PB to be an Estate Agent and certainly not a competitor.

  2. Purplebricks TV adverts are still using the tag we hate ‘estate agents’ who charge commission, I saw the Olympic one the other day as the young lady put the boot in on the punch bag, a surprising advert as it had nothing to do with selling property? Also, Just Eat – there is a company similar in range to Purplebricks, despite a 54% rise in revenue last year Just Eat still made a 92M loss, up from the 78M loss the year before – but it is valued at £14BN. 20-years into the millenium and the dotcom bubble of the early 00’s, for companies built on non-profit margins, despite huge cash through put might find themselves in the same boat. And the reason Just Eat revenue grew so much – Lockdown 1.0 2.0 and now 3.0, there was no marketing strategy, just restaurants were closed. I suppose if all agents who hold 93% of the market share closed – Purplebricks market share could increase – but I think the government are not likely to do that.

  3. A new App that “now enables vendors to accept offers and talk directly to their chain”. What could possibly go wrong eh? Will most vendors even know what to ask anyway? Chain checking is a time consuming and sometimes confusing job; and one most owners would happily let an agent deal with.

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