Purplebricks is in the firing line again and, judging by the amount of criticism of the online estate agency, it might soon have to be renamed Purple Brickbats.
The company is accused of strong-arming customers into buying extras, including surveys, home reports and legal services from ‘referral’ companies that receive kickbacks of up to £360-a-pop, adding substantially to their final bills.
According to its latest results, the average revenue for UK customers is £1138. So, with their stated fee of £849 in Scotland, this equates to an additional £289.
Because Purplebricks salespeople are paid only for listing, rather than selling properties, there’s no incentive for them to push for a sale.
If the firm fails to sell your property after 10 months, you have the choice of paying a fixed fee and walking away or agreeing another fee to keep it on the market.
Purplebricks’ “local property experts” are not employed by the company but are self-employed agents who work under licencing agreements, with no employment benefits.
It would be churlish not to acknowledge that Purplebricks is the largest and most successful player in the online market, listing around 9,000 properties for sale.
But is it being straight with its customers? Being offered the chance to ‘defer’ paying its fixed fee of £849 will be an attractive option for many sellers also faced with legal fees, moving costs and the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.
But those who opt to defer the fixed-fee are then obliged you to choose the firm’s preferred provider of conveyancing services, for which it earns up to £300 + VAT on a single legal referral.
While there’s nothing illegal, nor arguably unethical, in this, it must inevitably lead to Purplebricks’ customers paying higher legal fees than they would otherwise if they were free to shop around.
Have you had a bad experience with Purplebricks or another online only estate agency? Get in touch with us at your local Scottish Property Centre branch or visit: https://www.scottishpropertycentre.net/