6 mins read

“Traditional estate agents have charged too much, for too little, for too long,” Purplebricks says on its website. It’s a sentiment shared by many modern homeowners and sellers, who are increasingly turning to online estate agents to cut out the middle man and save on the sale of their property. And when it comes to Purplebricks, the figures are pretty impressive - the company claims it sells three times more homes than any other estate agent in the UK, but our research found that they just sell around 50% of the properties they list on their website.

At GetAgent, we think homeowners should be armed with all of the necessary information before choosing an estate agent, which is why we’re taking a closer look at Purplebricks, and advising on whether it’s the best online estate agent for your family’s circumstances…

How does Purplebricks work?

Like other leading online estate agents, Purplebricks has enlisted the help of local experts, who are focused on selling your home. They make it clear that these experts aren’t part of estate agents branches - “they can be on hand 7 days a week; outside of the 9 to 5 to help at every step,” the company says. That’s a bold claim, but one Purplebricks has so far been able to live up to thanks to an impressive portfolio of agents who understand their markets.

Once you decide to work with Purplebricks, you can arrange a free property valuation from one of their local experts, whether you’re selling or letting, and the company promises that there is no obligation to use them once you receive your valuation. Purplebricks differs from some estate agents because it helps you get on the market faster - in fact, they claim they can put your home on the market in just a day or two, an impressive feat considering its size.

What’s great about Purplebricks is that you’ll be given a local property expert who knows your local area inside out, and they’ll be with you at every step, from listing your home on the market to arranging viewings to negotiating and accepting an offer. Purplebricks claims that its “years of experience” helps homeowners “secure the right buyer and negotiate the best price possible for you” although there are mixed reviews when it comes to the final outcome.

After meeting with a local property expert and receiving a personalised valuation report via email, you can instruct Purplebricks to list your property, and they’ll return for photography and to create floor plans and write descriptions. After that, your home will be listed on sites like Rightmove, Zoopla and other leading property portals, and users can pay for upgrades to put their properties at the top of the search engine results pages to increase exposure and encourage more potential buyers to arrange a viewing (for an additional fee, of course).

For additional £300, Purplebricks will handle unlimited viewings and key handovers, although you can do it yourself and control viewings via an online portal. It’s that portal where you’ll also see offers in real time, where you can accept or reject by pressing a button - thoroughly modern property selling!

What does Purplebricks charge?

Purplebricks is priced competitively and offers a fixed-fee package of £899 (inc. VAT) for all UK postcodes outside of London. Inside of London, that figure rises to £1,399 (inc. VAT), but it’s common for estate agents to charge more in London boroughs because of location and property prices, so £1,399 is still a great price. Included in the price is access to a local property expert, photography, floor plans, listings, and UK-based support. If you’d prefer, you can pay on instruction or up to 10 months later for the same price, with no added interest.

What are the drawbacks of using Purplebricks?

Although estate agent fees and contracts can vary from company to company, they normally take a percentage fee when selling your home, typically at around 2% plus VAT. Whilst this makes them more expensive than online estate agents, it means they’re more incentivised to sell your home, and will, therefore, put in effort when it comes to marketing, promotions, and property viewings. Work with more than one local estate agent to really up the ante - you’ll have two competing agents vying to sell your home for the best price, and fast. Online estate agents like Purplebricks, on the other hand, receive a fixed-fee payment whether your home sells or not, and whilst it sells 76% of the properties it lists, 24% don’t sell, but still pay £899.

Some more Purplebricks criticism stems around the organisation of selling your home: again, as estate agents aren’t involved, it’s up to you to answer questions and arrange viewings with potential buyers - if you’re slow or too busy to meet with interested parties, you’ll have to pay Purplebricks £300 to manage viewings for you, which is expensive if you only need them to cover for you once, or if your home sells quickly after the first viewing. Bear that in mind.

Finally, some customers say that Purplebricks wants your property to be sold as quickly as they can to save money and hit targets - but that they “don’t care for what price”. If you want to get the highest possible offer for your home, a traditional estate agent might make sense.

What do Purplebricks customers think?

Purplebricks prides itself on being the “most reviewed estate agent ever” with a 9.5/10 rating on Trustpilot and a 4.7/5 rating on Feefo. Craig Parsons called Purplebricks a “revolutionary concept to selling and buying a new home” praising the company’s app portal and adding that his “house was sold within a week of going on the market” whilst Alison Gosling added that she “can’t see what’s not to like,” telling Trustpilot readers that her local Purplebricks agent kept her “updated at all times and quite frankly paid more interest in selling our house than our previous agent who wanted ten times as much in commission.” Not all reviews were so complimentary, however, with one customer citing a “lack of communication” and telling Feefo readers that there were “multiple instances” when their agent said they “would call us back at specific times and never did.” Another customer added that they were disappointed they had to use Purplebricks’ preferred solicitor, “costing more than the solicitor we had wanted to go with” and warned others not to forget “all of the extra charges on top”.

In conclusion

Purplebricks is today one of the most well-known and recognised online estate agents, and whilst they offer good value for money and customer service for some customers, they’re not always the best option when selling your home. When working with an online estate agent, you must be prepared to sacrifice some of those personal touches and constant contact you would expect from a local estate agent, but the pricing really does reflect that compromise.