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Agencies & People

Purplebricks ‘should not be allowed to prospect for instructions during crisis’

Leading London agent says Purplebricks' decision to offer vendors a digital valuations service for its pay up front service is misguided.

Nigel Lewis


A leading London property agent has claimed that Purplebricks is misguided after the agency revealed that it had moved its valuations operation to a digital-only service during the Coronavirus crisis to continue gaining instructions.

Lee James Pendleton, Co-Founder of London property experts James Pendleton, says inviting vendors to sign up to its ‘pay up front’ option is unwise because customers will be paying for a service that Purplebricks is ‘very unlikely’ to deliver on.

“I am surprised that they are asking people to pay money to them for a service that the government has said should not be happening,” says Lee.

“Ministers should be advising them, and any other agents that are touting for business with up-front fees, that they can’t be taking money off people in the current climate. It’s not ethical or the right advice. The property market is simply frozen and should not be taken advantage of.

“Before the crisis those paying for Purplebricks pay-up-front service were always taking a gamble that a buyer would be found, but now there’s little or no chance anyone is going to transact property in the current economic situation.”

Link to Telephony featurePendleton (left) says that, because the banks have withdrawn a number of mortgage products, local searches have stopped and the government is advising people not to move, the only people buying homes at the moment are cash rich investor ‘vultures’.

“We’ve had several calls from investors offering to buy homes at a 30-50% discount, but we’ve told them what to do with that kind of offer as we are protecting our clients now and for the future,” he says. “It’s the only kind of buyer that Purplebricks is likely to find for their vendors at the moment.

“Purplebricks is asking people to market their properties to find a sale in a market where no one has any idea what the future holds.”

Purplebricks’ ‘pay now’ option requires vendors to pay a fee of £999 (£1,499 in London) upon being instructed.

March 31, 2020


  1. How on earth can they offer a Virtual valuation!
    And how crazy would you be to accept it

    No 2 properties are the same, even virtually
    48 years experience tells me for sure that you HAVE to make a physical inspection and then do discuss the needs of the clients


  2. As a Proptech Real Estate Analyst – there are two models for technology within estate agency, the first a cup of TEA. Tech Enabled Agent, around 94% of agents use proptech to enhance their business, from Fixflo to CRM’s utilising AI etc.

    The second is CRA, Computer Replaces Agent, and Purplebricks which ran an agent lite version of agency, with no sales team, just self employed Listers, is it can be argued now moving to that final stage model. The general public self lists, without the need to use any agent.

    Putting aside the issue of Covid-19 and the industry being in lock down, given that there a numerous ‘self-listing’ sites which allow vendors access to the embattled property portals, some as low as £99 – Doorsteps (whatever happened to them?) the £999 fee will put many off.

    What is key, in agency is that Gen-Z – half the world’s population will within 10 years be the major client in real estate, for sure they want quick and on the end of a mobile, but more than anything they want service, and that will involve the human touch.

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