How Purplebricks Made Estate Agents Better (Out With The New & In With The Old)
Once upon a time, a new digital estate agency felt they would run all high street estate agents out of business and reform how we all thought about property, with their disruptor model of working. Brazen marketing, ultra low costs and consumer led sale management, they were poised to take the world by storm and following their floatation on the stock market, investors were licking their lips at the thought of making some big margins.
However despite this, the company has been regularly in the news for not always the right reasons. This time they are now up for sale having seen their share price drop by an incredible 98% and a former employee offering them £1 to purchase the company – quite a fall from grace.
I am of course referring to Purplebricks, which currently limps on like an injured hyena. However with the latest news, they’re not laughing any more.
I admit, I have never been a fan of their stack ’em high sell ’em cheap model. Far from having a go at them in their final stages of life, I actually felt the property sector should be grateful to Purplebricks for a number of reasons. The company initially had a lot of estate agents worried and squirming in their seats – could this new tech-orientated company really fully disrupt the sector as their rhetoric claimed?
From my hands-on experience in the sector, this is my personal take on how Purplebricks made estate agents better.
Better marketing and self-promotion
Purplebricks did some brilliant marketing and self-promotion. Razor sharp campaigns really got the attention of the media and public and got everyone in a flutter. Everyone was talking about them and their press coverage was nothing short of incredible at their height. Purplebricks forced estate agents to really up their game when it came to marketing and self-promotion. As we now see in their wake, many estate agents utilise social media and videos to broaden their reach to a far greater extent. They even started a new type of estate agent, with those using just the digital sector, to estate agents being hybrid and partly still having a high street presence.
Higher grade sales progression
Purplebricks demonstrated that cutting costs too far came at a price. When it came to the crunch and going Under Offer, they fell wildly short and illustrated just how important this stage of the process was both to getting transactions over the line and what the consumer expected from estate agents. Many estate agents broadened their thinking and now have higher grade sales progression, dedicated teams to oversee this and have focussed in on the most difficult part of a property transaction.
Face to face service
Mass volume Purplebricks-type conveyancing solicitors are out of favour, as estate agents and consumers turned their attention to greater accountability and communication. Digital only took Purplebricks so far. The market didn’t want any business to hide behind emails, call centres and be physically hidden out of sight. If there was an issue to overcome, the market wanted to see people face to face to resolve – ‘old school’ communication came back to the forefront. So too was the realisation that being an estate agent was hard. The market demanded and proved that experience in the sector was a key priority, in order for transactions to get over the line in an orderly timeframe and removing a high element of stress.
The local estate agent live on
Purplebricks proved that technology was a tool, which had a number of upsides, however it could never replace people and emotions. Afterall, people buy homes, not computers. To base an entire business model on technology was brave, but never took off. Other companies since tried this, but were equally flawed.
So thank you Purplebricks for trying something new, forcing estate agents up their game and making the rest of us look good!