UK estate agents are ‘on frontline of global disruption’, claim

UK estate agents are on the frontline of global disruption in the sector, according to an extensive new report.

US-based proptech expert Mike DelPrete has published a 200-slide analysis of emerging models in the sector and said that while “nothing is guaranteed” he expects Purplebricks to emerge as a winner against other online agents. His conclusion is, however, unlikely to cause any surprise.

In his report, he highlighted the phenomenal growth of Purplebricks’ share price (+350% since late 2015), as compared to incumbent Countrywide, which saw a drop of 71% over the same period.

He told EYE: “In my opinion, the UK market is at the forefront of industry disruption, especially in the traditional estate agency space.

“The rise of online agencies like Purplebricks and the impact on traditional players is unlike anything I’ve seen in any other markets.”

He said: “The odds are in its favour.

“It has a strong leadership position, growing brand recognition, and the most traction at scale, giving it better economies of scale.”

In his report, he pointed to analysis of listings on Zoopla that showed Purplebricks had more than 16,000 last month, as opposed to Yopa with around 3,000, and its other online rivals including Emoov, Housesimple, Tepilo, easyProperty, Doorsteps and Settled with fewer than 2,000.

He added: “This dynamic is unsurprising due to the lack of product differentiation and network effects [a phenomenon whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it].”

He also pointed to the amount of money Purplebricks has raised as compared to its rivals and commented that while it doesn’t guarantee success, it does help.

EYE reported last month that ten of the top online/hybrid agents have raised nearly £250m between them since launch, with Purplebricks accounting for £97m of that figure, and Yopa a further £58.6m.

Singling out Purplebricks for further analysis, he said the business was “scaling well”, relying on figures from its annual report that show its revenues have more than doubled between 2016 and 2017 with only a small increase in marketing spend.

Purplebricks’ full-year revenue shot up 132% from £18.6m in 2016 to £43.2m last year.

Over the same period, its marketing costs rose from £12.9m to £14.4m, according to its annual reports.

Meanwhile, DelPrete has calculated that its marketing return on investment (based on revenue per £1 spent) will be at a multiple of 4x in the first half of this year, up from 2.8x in the first half of 2017.

He also referred to Yopa, Tepilo, HouseSimple and Emoov as “runner-up” UK online agencies.

When it came to the US market, he named Opendoor, which buys houses from consumers and then flips them, as one of the biggest disruptors.

Drawing conclusions from his research, DelPrete urged agents to explain their customer proposition clearly and concisely and to have one clear call to action (typically offering a valuation).

He said: “Less is more. Keep it simple. Don’t confuse users by offering too many options.”

He also predicted that in five years’ time the industry will look similar but with more consumer choice.

While online agents are expected to grow their share of the market, he added: “Agents aren’t going anywhere.”

“There is a strong correlation between keeping people involved in the process and traction.

“In other words, tech-only solutions have limited traction.”

You can view the full report here.

Sales progression costing more for high street agents as online firms fall down on the job, claim

Traditional agents are being increasingly forced to step in to ensure that chains don’t collapse where sellers have chosen online firms – and are having to take the hit on higher costs of sales progression.

A new report from a firm of solicitors that has conducted interviews with estate agents in its local area says that lack of support from online agents is driving up the cost of sales progression for high street agents.

Regional solicitors Rix & Kay, which covers Sussex and Kent, said that 98% of traditional estate agents agreed that the home buying process is more likely to collapse in the absence of experienced professionals.

The firm said that the most skilled and critical phase of the home buying and selling process was sales progression but that online agents who are paid upfront and not reliant on a sale completing to get paid had little motivation or incentive to support their clients.

Nonetheless, it also found that the public has little awareness of how critical sales progression is and that traditional agents needed to do “far more” to differentiate their services from online rivals if they want to avoid being selected on cost alone.

In the estimation of the agents Rix & Kay spoke to, a total of 84% thought that the public don’t truly understand the role of the traditional estate agent.

Meanwhile, 76% felt they were not doing enough to ensure the public is aware of the differences in service traditional businesses can offer.

The report also recommended that traditional agents consider alternative business models if they wanted to remain profitable.

It found that 70% of traditional estate agents agreed with this idea, whereas only 8% disagreed (with 22% neither agreeing nor disagreeing).

Rix & Kay added that better regulation of the home buying and selling process was “fundamental” to improve service quality, as well as the reputation and credibility of the industry.

Of the agents surveyed, 66% strongly agreed this was the case, with a further 28% simply agreeing.

Not a single agent disagreed with the idea.

And it urged agents to embrace technology to improve their service, and to learn from their online rivals in this respect.

Meanwhile, it warned agents that they urgently need to consider the impact of the proposed letting fees ban, expected in 2019, on the sustainability and profitability of their business.

Zoe Woodward, consultant at John Hoole estate agents based in Brighton, who participated in the survey said: “We’re caught. We prefer open communication and know that as soon as one of the links in the chain is not informed or keeping us informed, the chain is vulnerable.

“So do we refuse to have any communication with the part(s) of the chain that has paid an online agency? We don’t, because we want a successful completion at the end of the day and our professionalism doesn’t allow us to be slack.”

Tracey Wells, director at Home & Castle Estate Agents based in Polegate, East Sussex, added: “Online estate agents are not a direct threat to most traditional estate agents and it’s not market share that is our concern.

“What’s more worrying is the strain and additional pressure online agents are bringing to the home buying and selling process because they are not concerned about completing a successful sale and are not providing the support that clients need.

Unfortunately, traditional agents feel obliged to step in to try and support the whole process or run the risk of the chain collapsing.”

Scott Garner, head of business development at Rix & Kay and author of the report said: “During the last six months I’ve witnessed unrivalled passion for an industry which has suffered for decades from a tarnished reputation.

“The traditional agents I spoke to have been central to their communities for a long time and their primary concern is helping local people move home.

“The challenge for them is to be seen as a key advisor to the home buying and selling process and not an unnecessary expense. That challenge is now even harder as new entrants continue to de-value the profession and increase pressure on margins.”

Rix & Kay’s survey is small and regional, and so there are significant caveats. It spoke to 14 different estate agents who between them operate 127 offices in the south east for its research.

Online agents have ‘disrupted vendors’ psyche’ but traditional agents can still hit back, claim

Online estate agents may have permanently changed the way in which vendors think about how they pay to sell their home, but traditional agents can still hit back by halving their fee and charging it upfront.

That’s the claim from a specialist property analyst, who has been comparing the way in which the model of traditional estate agencies and that of their online counterparts differ.

Andrew Stanton, of Estate Agency Insights and Strategies, has produced a lengthy report that examines how estate agencies both modern and traditional make (or in some cases don’t make) their money.

The millions that online agents have spent on advertising thanks to generous financial backing — EYE revealed yesterday that the top ten online/hybrid agents have raised £250m between them — has resulted in a change in the way consumers think, Stanton claims.

He said: “The onliners and especially Purplebricks are definitely the new housing market disruptors but more in the sense that they have, in less than three years, disrupted the psyche of the vendors and rewritten the sacred principle upon which traditional agency is based: no sale, no fee.

“This is absolute brilliance, [generating] positive cash flow from each instruction and no pressure to sell, as you already have your fee.”

However, Stanton claims he can see a way for traditional agents to hit back by duplicating the model, and that the “real future” of estate agency lies with what he calls the “medium charging agent” (MCA).

He pointed to the fact that Purplebricks’s chairman Michael Bruce indicated last year that Purplebricks’ average selling price was £240,000.

Stanton said: “This is not much use to the tens of thousands of vendors with a property worth considerably more.

“So this means the traditional estate agent, who caters for property across the broad spectrum of property sale prices, still has the majority of the marketplace.”

He said so-called MCAs would profit from having a highly skilled sales team, would be able not just to rely on Zoopla and Rightmove to find a buyer, have a physical presence in a small office and a fee large enough to make a “reasonable profit”.

He added: “Just as the online agents have re-educated vendors almost overnight … could the traditional agents not hit back and duplicate this model? Get vendors to pay upfront?

“So, the traditional estate agent goes to the vendor and says ‘here is our menu of services that we are going to use, all the things the onliners have plus a real office and a dedicated sales team who form a 60% part of our overheads but who we think are essential in getting you sold’.”

Stanton proposes that instead of charging a typical of 1.5% on a £360,000 property plus VAT, which works out at £3,960 plus VAT on completion, the traditional agent should instead charge a fixed upfront fee of £1,980 + VAT — half its usual fee.

He predicted that the vendor would “bite the agent’s arm off”.

He added: “For this equitable solution to work, all it takes is for the non-online agents to disrupt that collective vendor psyche just a little bit more.

“Maybe a sustained television and multimedia advertising campaign, re-educating the vendor public to accept the fairness of a system where paying upfront for all means lower estate agency fees for all.”

But he doesn’t make any suggestions as to how such a campaign would be paid for.

Stanton contends that his idea stands up to the inevitable criticism that traditional agents would lose out by charging less.

He said: “If we use the original model that a new traditional agent’s break-even is £18,000 a month, and in an area where their average sale price is £360,000 and their average fee is 1.1% plus VAT, that is a fee of £3,960 plus VAT.

“So they need to exchange on four and a half properties a month to break even and to do this means they need to list nine, as they only sell half.

“On the ‘old’ no sale, no fee model, they list nine vendors’ properties at a fee of 1.1% + VAT, or £3,960 plus VAT (on a £360,000 sale price), so that is 9 x £3,960 = potentially £35,640 of fees. They fail to sell every second property they list, [as per the] national average, so they exchange and receive fees on four and a half sales, or £17,820.

“On the new MCA charging system, they list nine vendors’ properties at a fixed upfront fee of 0.55% plus VAT against a sale price of £360,000, so £1,980 + VAT per property. So, 9 x £1,980 = £17,820, an identical revenue flow, and it is instant revenue, rather than waiting 16-18 weeks, the average time that it takes for a property to complete.

“It hinges on traditional agents charging half their normal fee, which in some cases will be higher or lower than the £1,980 plus VAT quoted, depending on established fee levels in the area.”

“Also, it would mean vendors would be more realistic about asking prices as inflated prices mean higher fees, basing fees against initial asking prices.

“Lastly, if the vendor has put his or her hand in her pocket upfront, then they are not going to switch agents – which means that as the vendor is chained to the agent, and they are in it for the long haul together, then it is likely that this business partnership may be stronger and more motivational for both sides.”

Purplebricks founder Kenny Bruce bids to buy football stadium

Kenny Bruce, the co-founder of Purplebricks, is trying to buy the stadium that houses the football club he invested half a million pounds in last summer.

Bruce agreed to plough £500,000 into Larne FC in Northern Ireland last year.

The club was founded in 1889 and plays home matches at Inver Park in Larne, where Bruce, now based in Los Angeles, grew up.

Now Bruce hopes to buy the ground itself, after it was put up for sale by the local council.

He told the Belfast Telegraph he would be “doing all he can” to secure the facility.

Bruce’s cash has already reportedly enabled Larne FC, which plays in the Northern Ireland Football League Championship, to outbid other teams for players.

Bruce said: “I, of course, will be doing all I can to make sure our charity is the successful bidder but there are no guarantees we will be successful.

“We are, of course, trying buy Inver Park to secure sports facilities for the club and town but the local authority have advertised the ground for sale as development land.

“It would be worth much more to a developer for homes than to a charity for sports facilities but we will do our best to secure the ground.”

The property is for sale via surveyor and auctioneer O’Connor Kennedy Turtle, with the price available on application.

Revealed: The hundreds of millions poured into online and hybrid agents

Ten of the UK’s top online/hybrid agents have raised nearly £250m between them since they were launched.

Nearly 40% of that figure is accounted for by Purplebricks alone.

EYE looked into the funding of 14 of the biggest names in the sector to see how much financial backing they have received since their respective launches.

While it isn’t possible to be completely accurate, every effort has been made to get as close as possible to the most likely figure.

In some cases, well-known names have been entirely self-funded, whereas others have received huge levels of backing from investors.

The list, in order of the amount of financial backing received, is as follows:

1) Purplebricks: £97m
Purplebricks raised £22m ahead of its IPO 2015, £25m at its IPO, and a further £50m through an issue of new shares in 2017.

A spokesman for Purplebricks said: “As at October 31, Purplebricks reported £64.4m and no debt, following cash reducing £6.9m in the half – which broadly matches US start-up losses. So all in all the company has raised £97m for a business which is today valued at £1.1bn.”

2) Yopa: £58.6m
Yopa won the backing of Grosvenor Hill Ventures, the investment arm of Savills, when it was just six months old, with £16m in funding. It raised £15m from investors including Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) and Grosvenor Hill Ventures in May 2017. That was followed by another £27.6m in September 2017, of which £20m was from LSL Property Services and a further £7.6m was from DMGT (the Daily Mail).

3) HouseSimple: £33m
HouseSimple, launched in 2015 by Alex and Sophie Gosling, raised £13m in a funding round led by Carphone Warehouse founder Sir Charles Dunstone and his business partner Roger Taylor via Toscafund Asset Management and Freston Ventures. That was followed in December 2017 by another £20m investment.

4) easyProperty: £27m
EasyProperty started with a £1.4m round of crowdfunding in 2014, followed by a £9.75m share placement in September 2014. A third round of funding in 2015 saw it raise another £16m from Toscafund prior to its merger with GPEA.

5) Emoov: £16m
Emoov has raised £16m over four rounds of funding, including £1.95m in 2014, £1.5m in January 2015, £2.6m in October 2015, £50,000 in December 2016 and £9m in August 2017 from venture capitalists.

6) EweMove: £9m
EweMove was self-funded by its founders until Property Franchise bought it for £15m of which £8m was upfront and £7m deferred subsequently re-negotiated to a total of £9m, which has now been fully paid up.

7) House Network: £5m
House Network, founded in 2004 by current CEO Mark Readings, grew organically and received only low levels of funding until a 2017 cash injection of £5m from private investors. It aims to break even within two years.

8) Settled: £2.4m
Settled has raised £2.4m, including around £150,000 in seed funding in November 2014, followed by £1m in July 2016 and then another £1.2m in June 2017 from venture capitalists Connect Ventures and Piton Capital.

9) Sellmyhome: £1m
Sellmyhome has raised £1m.

Director Will Clark said: “MyHomeGroup – (SellMyHome & RentMyHome) is privately owned and has grown revenues in excess of 200% year on year over the last three years.

“We are focused on building a brand known for premium customer service and benefit greatly from our natural brand recognition.

“To date we have received around £1m investment and the business has yet to receive external funding.”

10) £507,000
Akshay Ruparelia, who founded Doorsteps last year while still at school, initially raised £7,000 from family followed by £500,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last summer. The largest private investor in that round was Julian Mylchreest, a senior managing director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Taken together, the ten agencies above have raised £249.5m between them.

EYE contacted four further agencies.

Springbok could not be reached for comment.

Express Estate Agency claims to be self-funded but has not provided further details.

Tepilo, which is owned by Northern & Shell, would not comment on its funding and few details are publicly available.

Hatched, owned by Connells, also declined to comment.

Major agencies face mergers after share price slide, claim

Some of the UK’s biggest estate agencies could find themselves the target of mergers and acquisitions, after significant falls in their share prices.

That’s according to industry analysts, who have suggested that the likes of Foxtons and Countrywide were among some of the most obvious subjects of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity.

Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital, said there was a “clear rationale” for mergers, according to a report by Bloomberg.

He said: “A merger of equals or takeover are definitely options that would make sense, given what the market conditions and share prices are.

“The more traditional letting agents must be looking for a way to cut costs in this environment.”

Meanwhile, Christopher Millington, an analyst at Numis Securities, appeared to suggest that private equity houses could be interested in taking some of the bigger listed businesses private.

He said: “From a private-equity point of view, Countrywide and Foxtons tick a lot of boxes.

“The shares have underperformed, but they should be able to generate decent cash going forward.

“In the case of Foxtons, this will depend on how long the London market takes to turn around, and in the case of Countrywide, it will be about how they restructure management to improve the operational performance.”

At the close of trading yesterday, Countrywide’s share price stood at 81.7p, up 4.2% for the day, but having sunk by around a third since the start of the year.

All eyes will be on Countrywide’s full-year results for 2017, expected on March 8.

But the estate agency’s own in-house broker Jefferies has suggested that Countrywide’s earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) could drop to as little as £50m — far less than the £64.8m EBITDA estimate that it made in January this year.

Nonetheless, a broker’s note issued by Jefferies analysts Anthony Codling and Sam Cullen warned that the shares have lost so much in value that there is a risk of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

Explaining their thinking, the brokers said: “We estimate that Countrywide currently generates around £15m of EBITDA from tenant fees and the UK Government has said that the tenant fee ban will not come into force until after spring 19.

“Making the assumption that FY2017 will represent the low point of EBITDA for the group, if we subtract £15m from our £65m estimate we arrive at £50m as a floor for EBITDA.”

Jefferies rated the group’s shares “hold” and set a price target of 125p.

Foxtons, meanwhile, closed at 77.5p, up nearly 5% for the day, but down from around 80p at the start of this year.

Both Countrywide and Foxtons declined to comment on claims that they could be subject to mergers and acquisitions.

Most onliners now offering ‘no sale, no fee’ as industry shifts

Eleven of the top 15 hybrid/online agents now charge on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis, or offer an option to do so, begging the question as to whether overwhelming market leader Purplebricks will follow.

Yopa – backed by Savills and LSL – yesterday became the latest online agent to offer such a ‘no sale, no fee’ option.

It now offers a flat rate fee of either £1,495 or £2,695 depending on where clients live as a ‘no sale, no fee’ option.

That’s more than its traditional fee structure, which costs either £839 or £1,399, with the option to pay upfront or through a ten-month payment plan.

It is backing up the change with two new national TV ads and national radio ads.

The move means that of the top 15 hybrid/online estate agencies by listings (as ranked by a mystery league table published last year), the only firms believed not to offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ option are Purplebricks, Tepilo and Doorsteps.

Eleven other brands in the list all offer some sort of ‘no sale, no fee’ option, or in the case of easyProperty, it charges £295 upfront and a completion fee of £595.

It is not known how a 12th firm, Excel Estate Agency, charges its clients and EYE has been unable to reach the business at the time of writing.

In order of the ranking of the top online/hybrid estate agencies in the UK by number of available properties in December, EYE has attempted to establish what fee options these businesses offer:

1) Purplebricks: a flat fee of £849 or £1,199 in London and surrounding areas. No ‘no sale, no fee’ option available.

2) Express Estate Agency: charges on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis with a typical fee of 1-1.5%.

3) Yopa: flat fee of £839 or £1,399, or a ‘no sale, no fee’ option of £1,495 or £2,695, depending on location.

4) HouseSimple: standard flat fee of £695, or £1,495 on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis, payable on completion.

5) recently dropped deferred payments and now charges £295 upfront and £595 on completion, as of January 2018.

6) standard flat fee of £795 upfront, or £1,495 ‘no sale, no fee’ option, payable on completion.

7) Tepilo: fixed fee from £645 (for the Essential package, £895 for the Classic package, or £1,295 for the Premium package). No ‘no sale, no fee’ option available.

8) Springbok Properties: offers a ‘no sale, no fee’ package “guaranteed”. EYE has contacted Springbok for further details.

9) three fee options at £99 inc VAT, £199 inc VAT, £499 inc VAT. It does not offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ option.

10) EweMove: operates on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis. EYE has asked for further details on typical fees.

11) House Network: a flat fee of £795 with no VAT or extras, or a £1495 ‘no sale, no fee’ option.

12) upfront flat fee of £495, or a payment deferred option of £895. Offers a traditional ‘no sale, no fee package’. EYE has requested further details.

13) Open House Estate Agents: managing director Alex Morrison explained that agents are free to choose their charging structure but that around 80% charge on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis, with a typical fee of 0.75%.

14) Excel Estate Agency: EYE contacted Excel Estate Agency but no-one was immediately available and there are few details of its charging structure available.

15) Settled: charges a flat fee of £2,200 on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis.

The question now is whether Purplebricks will move to a ‘no sale, no fee’ model. Analysts do not seem to think so.

One sector insider told us: “Their model is very much ‘list it’ rather than ‘sell it’. I don’t think it would stack up commercially for them to not be paid for months on a high proportion of listings and to have to add hundreds of sales progressors to ensure they got the ‘no sale, no fee’ deals completed.

“My understanding is they don’t even check chains or buyer finances and so they’re way behind the curve on this.

“As far as I understand it, they have just 40 ‘post-sale consultants’ overseeing 15,000 sales. Adding ‘no sale, no fee’ would dilute their upfront proposition.”

A spokesman for Purplebricks said: “Should our customers tell us they would like the choice to pay higher fees for the same quality service and that they don’t mind subsidizing those who don’t sell then consideration will always be given to meeting our customers needs.

“At the moment thousands every month tell us they prefer a fair, fixed fee.”

Complaint about Purplebricks’ standard fee claim informally resolved by advertising watchdog

A complaint about Purplebricks and its description of the standard fee it charges has been informally resolved by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA said it received a complaint about the hybrid agent’s website, which made reference to “our standard fee £849”.

The complainant challenged whether the claim could be substantiated

Purplebricks’ website as it appeared before it was amended

Next to the text was an icon which, when hovered over, revealed the following text: “This is our standard fee for everywhere outside of London and surrounding areas, where we charge £1,199 inc VAT. Around 40% of our customers pay us a fixed fee of £300 to cover ALL viewings.”

Purplebricks has since agreed to amend its website.

Meanwhile, the ASA has confirmed that a separate complaint from aspirant trade body CIELA about Purplebricks, lodged at the end of January, has been passed to its compliance team.

The ASA said: “We did receive the mentioned complaint from CIELA as a separate case. We concluded the ad breached our previous ruling, so the case has moved to our compliance team, who are now working directly with Purplebricks on the issue.”

Also informally resolved this week were complaints against “rental community” OpenRent, which claims to be the UK’s biggest letting agent, and Peterborough-based letting agent HSB Homes.

In OpenRent’s case, the ASA received two complaints about a video featured on its website, which included the claim: “With OpenRent you have access to sites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree and more, so your advert will be seen by literally millions of potential tenants.”

It also claimed that landlords made an average saving of £3,118 when a property is leased through its business.

After an approach from the ASA, OpenRent agreed to remove the first claim.

OpenRent also offered an assurance that for the second claim it would either make changes in accordance with the ASA’s recommendations or it would not make any savings claims in the future.

Meanwhile, the ASA received a complaint about a property listing placed on Rightmove by HSB Homes which did not clearly list the fees.

The ASA said: “The advertiser assured us that the listing has since been removed. We also received assurance that any future listing will clearly state administration fees.”

Hybrid agent: ‘We have not even begun to capitalise on market disruption’

Express Estate Agency, which claims to be the second biggest hybrid agent in the UK, says it has “not even begun” to capitalise on the disruption taking place in the world of estate agency.

The Manchester-based business was founded by brothers Chris and Mark Brogan and business partner Sam Ballard in 2009 and has an unusual celebrity endorsement in the shape of former cricketer Sir Ian Botham, who features on its website.

It has previously been described as a quick sale agent but Mark Brogan said it was never a term that he and his brother have ever used for the business.

He said: “We’ve always dealt with sellers of all levels of motivation. I think that’s something people have incorrectly assumed as we have the word ‘express’ in our name maybe.

“I suppose we were the original hybrid before the term existed.”

The business, which has been self-funded up until this point, charges on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis.

Its typical fee ranges from 1% to 1.5% for what it describes as a “full service no sale, no fee” offering.

It claims to have grown its sales listings levels by over 40% in the second half of 2017.

According to its own research, based on listings on on February 8 this year, it calculates that it lies in second place among hybrid/online agents with 3,029 listings, behind Purplebricks with 15,620 and ahead of Yopa with 1,835.

It currently has 3,622 properties listed on Rightmove, including those sold STC.

It also has 33 agents in the field — considerably fewer than its nearest rivals — and is aiming to recruit more.

It estimates that Purplebricks has 714 ‘Local Property Experts’ while Yopa has 102 agents.

Mark Brogan told EYE: “Through our research we are comfortably the second largest hybrid/online estate agent in terms of available stock and revenue levels (with almost twice as many listings as third place Yopa and approximately double Yopa’s revenue levels).

“Unlike the vast majority of other hybrid/online estate agents, we see great value offered in many cases by traditional estate agents.

“We are firm believers in the full service plus ‘no sale, no fee’ model.”

He added: “On a shoe-string budget we find ourselves in the top two hybrid/online estate agents, plus in the top ten estate agent companies in Britain by sales listings.

“Despite this, we believe we have not even begun to more aggressively capitalise on the tremendous disruption that has been taking place.”

Last year, a mystery league table of estate agent businesses placed Express Estate Agency ninth by brand, and tenth by estate agency group.

The table examined the number of properties from each group and brand in December 2017.

Purplebricks adverts ridicule ‘thumb-twiddling’ agents

Hybrid estate agent Purplebricks has released a series of online adverts on the video sharing website youtube, which in some cases mock traditional estate agents.

The five videos, posted last month, have racked up nearly 4m views between them.

The short clips each address a question about the agent.

One, which has had just over half a million views, features a woman who asks: “OK Purplebricks, if you don’t have any branches, does that mean I have to do everything myself?”

A voiceover responds that Purplebricks’ Local Property Experts “can manage every aspect of your sale, wherever and whenever you need”.

It adds: “We think that’s far better than them twiddling their thumbs in an office on the high street.”

In another video, Purplebricks is asked: “Why should I take a risk with selling with someone new? Shouldn’t I just stick with one of the big dogs?”

The voiceover replies with “oh, we agree”, before going on to claim that Purplebricks is one of the biggest estate agents in the UK.

Other videos include questions such as: “How can you charge so little?”

Another asks: “Why bother to get the best price when you don’t charge commission?”

And a fifth video poses the question: “How can you give such great service when you charge so little?”