August 2022
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Are high-street estate agents panicking about Internet rivals?

I thought readers might find this mildly interesting.

Hopefully you all know that there are now two main ways you can sell your home. Up till just a few years ago, anyone selling a home pretty much had to go through a traditional high-street estate agency (‘realtor’ for any American readers). Then along came the Internet with property websites like Rightmove, Primelocation and Zoopla. These property websites enabled the rise of Internet-based estate agencies. As they don’t need to maintain expensive high-street branches filled with over-ambitious, bonus-hungry young estate agents, Internet-based estate agencies can help you sell your home much more cheaply than a traditional high-street agency.

One of the best of the new Internet-based estate agencies seems to be Purplebricks. If you want to sell your home through them, you contact them through their website and book an appointment for their local property ‘expert’  to visit you. Usually this person is someone who used to work for a traditional high-street estate agency. The Purplebricks rep will take photos of your home, get all the measurements and details and post your home on the main property websites – Rightmove, Primelocation and Zoopla.


That will cost you between £700 and £800. In comparison, a high-street estate agency will charge about 1.25% (I think). So, for my home selling at £300,000, I would have to pay a high-street agency around £3,750 plus VAT (total £4,500). If using Purplebricks works out, I’ll save about £3,800.

I have just put my home on the market with Purplebricks. I set up a diary on the Purplebricks website giving my availability and then anyone interested in seeing my property makes an appointment online. Yesterday I did my first two viewings.

A few days after my property went live, I got this letter from a local traditional high-street estate agency trying to put the boot into Purplebricks and pressure me to abandon Purplebricks and use his traditional high-street estate agency instead:

Sorry for the direct approach but I have noticed that your property has just gone on the market with Purplebricks.

I was wondering if they have discussed with you how they intend to market your property to achieve a sale. The reason for my question is that I have found that, as you pay them upfront, they tend to not offer the guidance and feedback you need to actually sell. After all, you have already paid them for their service and this is just to advertise your property online.

At ******** you only pay us if we find you a buyer that completes on your property. This means you are protected from paying high upfront fees before you have seen or tried the service.

I would love the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our service and I can personally guarantee that you will not be disappointed. To show you how keen I am to work with you, I am currently able to offer a fantastic 25% discount off our fees and reimburse any upfront fees you have paid to Purplebricks.

Please can you contact me so I can discuss this further?

Desperate? Or what?

Whether you use a traditional high-street estate agency or one like Purplebricks depends on whether you feel your property needs to be ‘marketed’ or whether you believe just having Purplebricks stick it on the main property websites will be sufficient to reach most potential buyers.

Moreover, having bought and sold properties before, I’m not sure exactly what ‘guidance and feedback‘ mentioned in the letter from the high-street estate agency would be worth several thousand pounds.

As for selling my home. I believe I can do that much more effectively than some pushy 23-year-old from a high-street agency who knows little to nothing about the property. I can explain with genuine enthusiasm why I bought my home, list all the benefits of living in it, can answer any questions about it and can honestly explain what improvements I think buyers should make and how much those would cost.

I’ve only done two viewings so far. But both couples are seeing quite a few other properties and both have remarked how much more enjoyable and useful it was being shown the property by the owner rather than some slimy high-street estate agency lackey.

Of course, using an Internet-based estate agency may not be everyone’s cup of tea. And I haven’t yet had an offer for my property. But my first few days with Purplebricks makes me feel we are seeing the slow but inevitable virtual extinction of the traditional high-street estate agencies.

They will not be missed.

6 comments to Are high-street estate agents panicking about Internet rivals?

  • Teflon Tory

    UK bought and paid for mainstream press, presstitutes misleading again. Saying we will get negative interest rates if we leave the EU.
    So the reality Germany is already advertising negative rates(see link) The Loon Eurocrats really have lost it. The sooner we get away from the EuroMarxists we can start to recover.

    Meanwhile In Germany, An Unexpected Ad Appears.

    During a leisurely stroll around Germany, one may encounter many strange sights but nothing would stranger than the following ad (courtesy of Peter Barkow) which promises negative 1% interest rates for consumer loans up to 24 months.

    The EU Project has bought its way in everywhere, spending other peoples money , Never balancing its books, the sooner it is dismissed into the dustbin of history, the sooner all European Countries can try to rebuild their shattered nations the better for us all.

  • Chris

    Here’s my story.
    I’m selling my mum’s house and after meeting a local estate agent he undervalued the house by £50k then wanted to take 1.25%. He said he had buyers already who were desperate to buy.

    I decided to use Housesimple and started the process. Then the local agent phoned and I said I’m using Housesimple.

    In that conversation he tried offering a lower fee but I said there’s no point HouseSimple charges around £600. At that point he gave up and we said good bye.

    30mins later he phoned back and offered to do a full local estate agent service for the same price, i.e. £600.

    We have now sold but not yet exchanged contracts. I also researched Zoopla for local house prices and put the house on at the Zoopla estimate which was £50k more than the local agent. Interestingly when the house was priced realistically none of buyers he said were ‘lined up’ came for a viewing.

  • Stuz Graz

    Thought purple bricks was pay on completion? There website seems to say that. So is it correct when the competing agent claims you have paid out large amounts upfront? Some other online agents you have a choice of options.

    I think some local agents add a degree of value but in London their fees can be 1.5% on a typical £750k house then that is £11.5k plus vat which is crazy. And pays for the BMW X5 parked outside them all.

  • Stuz Graz

    Zoopla autopricing model is actually a range. The subscription model shows a band with an upper and lower whilst the free version is a set price. So best not to just take the free online valuation as certain probably better to add at least 10% to it. Also its based on real completion data that can be at best 1 month old so in a fast moving market its probably out of date.

  • David Craig

    Purplebricks is pay upfront as you’re paying for the photos, the description and the listing not the sales process. Though for an extra £100 (I think) they offer to do viewings and price negotiation.

    The story from Chris suggests that if you don’t wanat to use an online estate agency, you can still use the existence of online estate agents to get your high-street agent to drop their price.

  • prester john

    “a high-street estate agency will charge about 1.25% (I think). So, for my home selling at £300,000, I would have to pay a high-street agency around £3,750 plus VAT (total £4,500). If using Purplebricks works out, I’ll save about £3,800.”

    Where did you get your idea of the right price to sell your property, though?

    Would that have been from lookinbg at how local estate agencies have valued houses like yours? You wouldn’t go off Zoopla or the land registry. One’s just an algorithm and the other contains records of prices agreed probably six months ago.

    If an agent gets you £315k for your house and charges you £5k, while Purplebricks gets your £300k, charges you nothing and makes you do all the viewings yourself, who got you the best deal?

    Online agents parasite off high-street ones like Amazon parasites off high-street book shops.

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