Category Archives: purplebricks

Commisery for Purplebricks customers overpaying for tied solicitors by hundreds of pounds?

How much ‘commisery'(tm) might you feel if you had been encouraged or even required to use a specific firm of solicitors by your estate agent, only to find that over £380 was going straight into your agents pocket as a backhander from the solicitor in question? All perfectly legally of course.

In a written quotation from late 2018 recently sent to the author (see below) on conditions of strict anonymity, the firm quotes the fees for its professional services as £599 plus VAT (excluding disbursements). However, £382.85 plus VAT of this is paid straight back to Purplebricks PLC as a referral fee. So, exactly the same service that the firm of solicitors are charging customers £718.80 for, could be literally hundreds of pounds less expensive if they weren’t paying a huge introducer fee to Purplebricks.

Like many, but by no means all, estate agents Purplebricks PLC (stock market ticker #PURP ) make much of their income from referring people who buy and sell through them to a solicitor. It’s a perfectly legal practice as long as it is declared to the customer at the outset. The Property Ombudsman scheme

also requires that an agent informs the clients (the person selling) of any commission they make in this manner (see screenshot).

The quotation sent to the author makes it clear that this eyewatering sum has been correctly declared to the person being quoted. However, I have no knowledge of whether sellers are informed of how much Purplebricks might earn from a buyer who also uses the same firm, neither do I have any evidence to suggest that Purplebricks are not complying with the law.

Given that Purplebricks customers who choose to defer the typical upfront payment of around £1,100 are effectively required to use this firm of solicitors or pay an additional fee to ‘not’ use them, there may be some readers who might question whether a Publicly Listed Company that champions itself as a cheap way of selling your home but, who charge a fee even if they don’t sell* PLUS earn hefty backhanders from closely associated companies is very cheap at all.

*according to Jefferies, 49% of Purplebricks customers don’t actually sell. This has been strongly disputed by Purplebricks but the firm, who are notoriously litigious, have never supplied evidence to disprove the claim. Readers must draw their own conclusions.

QuotationORIGINAL - DO NOT USE - QUOTE-2.jpg

Purplebricks and its finance company have liabilities in perpetuity – Emoov collapse should sound alarm-bells for investors and business partners

“Consumer watchdog Which says 5000 sellers could be affected by the collapse of Emoov” https://www.propertyindustryeye.com/consumer-watchdog-which-says-5000-sellers-could-be-affected-by-collapse-of-emoov/ Source Property Industry Eye (PIE)

Purplebricks share price continues to nose dive
Purplebricks share price continues to nose dive

The collapse of eMoov into administration again demonstrates the fundamental flaw in the call-centre estate agency business model but, it also highlights a severe problem for Purplebricks and the few other remaining call-centre agents that has been alluded to before but, in a different context. Their contract binds the companies to deliver the contracted service in perpetuity.

As the PIE story demonstrates, Purplebricks* consumers who have paid for a service upfront or, deferred payment, are now entitled to that cost being refunded or, tfor the customers to enforce the contract for eternity. 

Given the consistent and dramatic share price fall over the past year, its continued ‘shyness’ in substantiating many of its bold claims (88% listing to sold by Michael Bruce CEO on Radio 4 MoneyBox) and, its inability to provide a shred of evidence to repudiate Anthony Codlings damning Jefferies report which stated that Purplebricks sells (completes on) at most 51%** of all of its clients that it takes circa £1,300 from on average.

This means that Purplebricks has an exponentially increasing exposure to clients who can contractually demand their money back/ enforce the marketing and support package in perpetuity (allowing for ever increasing Rightmove charges and LPE retainers etc. Either Purplebricks and its finance company must hold sufficient and ever increasing cash reserves to be able to meet this contingency or, they face a potential charge of selling services they do not have the ability to provide as contracted.

See also

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2018/05/08/are-purplebricks-set-to-repay-millions/

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2017/12/12/purplebricks-and-the-case-of-the-regulators-who-wont/

https://blog.pdq-estates.co.uk/2017/08/24/attempted-intimidation-by-a-plc-or-fair-comment/

*Stock market ticker PURP #PURP Social media @PurplebricksUK @purplebricksAUS @PurplebricksUSA

**believed to be a ‘safe’ conservative figure to keep Jefferies lawyers happy