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  1. Blog
  2. Purplebricks review: We delve deeper into the online estate agent
Online estate agent advice
23 July 2020

Purplebricks review: We delve deeper into the online estate agent

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. Purple Bricks fees
  2. 2. How does Purple Bricks work?
  3. 3. Are Purple Bricks any good?
  4. 4. Conclusion

Although online agents have been around in the UK for a little while now, many people haven't had the chance to work with them, so knowing whether they are good or not involves a bit more digging.

What many people don't first realise is that the service offered by an online estate agent is very different to that provided by a high street estate agent, or local agent. Most online agents offer a pared back service, and Purplebricks is no different. They will set you up with an online advert on two of the major property portals (Rightmove and Zoopla), and then leave much of the selling process up to you.

Some people think this is a good option - you pay a lower fee, and don't have to deal with any estate agents. However, if you’re expecting an estate agent level of support, or have no experience selling a property, the Purplebricks experience can be disappointing. You may even find that paying close to £2,000 to get such a reduced service, makes online estate agents poor value for money.

Below we outline how Purple bricks works, including how much they charge, and some of the research we've done into their home selling performance. We also take a look at some of this online estate agent’s customer reviews.

Hopefully this information will give you a more complete view of Purplebricks, and help you decide whether they are the right choice for you.

Purple Bricks fees

Purple bricks places a lot of emphasis in their advertising on being a cheap, and effective alternative to high street estate agents.

But, Purplebricks has been in trouble on multiple occasions with the Advertising Standards Agency for being misleading about their fee packages - even on their own website. So, we've done the work for you, breaking down each of their packages for home sellers. Purplebricks now offer a money back guarantee which we have reviewed here.

Pay Now

Outside London

Headline Price: £999 (inc. VAT)

Included: Photography and floor plan, UK-based support team, an advert on Rightmove, Zoopla, and Purplebricks, & a 'local property expert'.

'London and Surrounding Areas'

Headline Price: £1,499 (inc. VAT)

Included: Photography and floor plan, UK-based support team, an advert on Rightmove, Zoopla, and Purplebricks, & a 'local property expert'.

Pay Later

The most recent ASA complaint about Purple bricks is about the following claim on their website: homesellers can 'pay when you instruct us or up to 10 months after advert is published...(no extra cost).' The ASA found this misleading because Purple bricks' deferred payment options come with conditions that mean the home seller does actually end up having to pay more.

Below we detail the fees charged by Purplebricks, and what you should expect to be included, if you pick their deferred payment option.

Outside London

Headline Price: £999 + cost of partner conveyancing company OR £360 administrative charges

Included: Photography and floor plan, UK-based support team, an advert on Rightmove, Zoopla, and Purplebricks, a 'local property expert'.

Additional conditions: You will need to decide whether to work with Purplebricks' partner conveyancing service, or pay a £360 administrative fee and work with your own choice of legal representative.

'London and Surrounding Areas'

Headline Price: £1,499 + cost of partner conveyancing company OR £360 administrative charges

Included: Photography and floor plan, UK-based support team, an advert on Rightmove, Zoopla, and Purplebricks, a 'local property expert'.

Additional conditions: You will need to decide whether to work with Purplebricks' partner conveyancing service, or pay a £360 administrative fee and work with your own choice of legal representative.

Not included in headline fee:

Hosted Viewings: £300 outside London, or £399 in London & surrounding areas).

Note: Purplebricks' Service Agreement states that they reserve the right to withdraw the supported viewings service at any point during your home sale. When making this decision they will take into account the number of viewings they have already conducted, and the feedback received. According to this agreement, if Purplebricks decide to stop hosting your viewings, you won't get a refund.

EPC: Purple bricks charge £84 for an EPC, but you can get one for significantly cheaper here.

Advert 'upgrades':

Premium Listing on Rightmove £125 for 12 months Featured Listing on Rightmove £149 for 2 weeks Or both for £249

The cost of a premium or featured listing varies depending on which package your estate agent has with Rightmove, however some sources suggest that the average fee is £10. This means Purplebricks is getting a significant mark up here.

The cost of the compulsory conveyancing service ('Pay Later' option only): The amount will vary depending on the type and location of the property that you're selling.

For more information about Purplebricks' conveyancing partner, check out our investigation here.

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How does Purple Bricks work?

Purplebricks is an online estate agency, which means that it's service differs from those you might expect from your standard high street estate agent. Online agents take a more hands off approach to selling.

Purple bricks will set you up with an advert on Rightmove, Zoopla, and their own website, and then let you take over the selling process.

They have an online platform, a UK call centre, and a network of 'Local Property Experts', that provide some support during the process. However, it's important to remember that a local property expert is not the same as a local agent, nor are they an estate agent.

Generally these 'experts' cover large 'local' areas, and multiple sales at a time. They will be on hand for small queries, but will not lead your sale in the way a high street agent would.

Are Purple Bricks any good?

Even from just a quick google, you can see that a lot of people have strong opinions about Purplebricks. In fact, they claim to be the most reviewed estate agent in the UK, with over 74,000 Trustpilot reviews.

Many of those Purplebricks reviews on Trustpilot are glowing, though there are occasionally very negative comments too.

The positive reviews focus on the price, and efficiency of the online system. Many people are happy with the way their home was advertised, and the ability to manage their part in the sale online.

Where there are issues, they tend to revolve around severe communication problems. Complaints tend to revolve around difficulties with the online system, and lack of ability to actually get in touch with a real person. Many of these come from people trying to buy properties. Complaints about the company's legal partner come up consistently too.

The positive reviews of the online estate agent on Trustpilot are in stark contrast to reviews on allAgents, whose reviewers rank Purplebricks at just 1.2 stars out of 5. Many complain about the customer service offered by Purple bricks. Others are disappointed by the lack of support they received on their sale, and feel they were left abandoned once they had paid their fee.

Over the past year, Purplebricks has asked Trustpilot to remove just under 1,000 of the 8,500 reviews they have received for their estate agency services. It's unclear how much this has impacted their rating on the site.

So where does that leave us?

It's clear that opinion about customer service is divided about this online estate agent. But what about the hard facts about their performance? Do they get the job done?

It's quite hard getting information on how many properties Purplebricks actually sells. Unlike other estate agents, they get paid upfront, which means they don't tend to keep a public record of their completions - they get paid regardless.

However, we were able to use our data analysis tools, and our access to a range of data sources - across property platforms, and the UK Land Registry, to find out how many of the properties they put on the market actually made it to completion within 12 months (which is much longer than the average time it takes to sell a house). We found that Purplebricks had only sold about half of the properties they'd been marketing.

Just 50%.

But, home sellers had had to pay the full fee upfront. This means if they changed to a different, more effective estate agent, they would have to pay both the new agent that sold their home, and Purplebricks who didn't.

Research in Estate Agent Today got similar results. They found that Purple bricks had made over £18 million in 2019 from home seller fees for properties that they did not end up selling.

Performance-wise, it doesn't look good for Purple Bricks.

For more on our research into online estate agents check out our guide 'High street agents vs online agents'.

Conclusion

Given the difference in the amount they charge, we can't expect Purplebricks to provide the same level of service as a high street agent. And, if you're happy to take on more of the work of the sale, and aren't in a rush to move, Purplebricks could be a useful option to consider.

However, if you've never sold a property before, and are looking for a bit more support, a high street agent is likely to give you a much better outcome for your home sale.

Either way, our main piece of advice is to avoid the 'Pay Later' option. Picking to pay in 10 months time simply ties you into a variety of extra conditions that can make it difficult to have flexibility with your sale. It can also make it even more expensive to get out of your contract with Purplebricks, if you are one of the 50% of homes that doesn't sell using their services.

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