The Purple Property Shop, one of the largest independent estate agents in Bolton have hit back at the recent onslaught against high street agents by the online agents.
The Purple Property Shop who are now in their sixth year and already one of the market leaders in Bolton originally set themselves up as an online agent. However after listening to customer feedback and after less than two years in business they made the decision to open a high street branch to offer a more comprehensive service to its customers.
If it’s simply cheaper fees the consumer is looking for then The Purple Property Shop’s ‘budget range’ is comparable to online prices with fees starting at just £599 including VAT. However there are big differences between the high street agents and the online equivalent. Matthew Jones, Managing Director of The Purple Property Shop lists six key advantages to using a local agent.
The first key difference is service and coverage, a local estate agent has a local presence and critically a local database. The larger the local estate agent then the larger their database and the more local clients they are able to match to their properties. It is not just about Rightmove and Zoopla, remember these website are only ten years old, whilst estate agents have been around selling houses far longer by creating client lists and providing a personal ‘house finding’ service for their clients. In addition to which you have the impact of the local newspaper, an online estate agent based in Essex (Emoov) for example is not going to have the ability to advertise properties in publications such as The Bolton News or The Bury Times. Not everyone has access to the internet, and not everyone wants to use the internet to search for a property, so online only will never give you complete coverage of the market.
Secondly there is local knowledge. An estate agent based in Bolton will know Bolton like the back of their hand, they will have lived there for many years, studied house price trends in that area and can give you up to the minute advice on the local housing economy. An online agent based in Birmingham (Purple Bricks) for example will not be able to accurately value or advise on a property in Bolton.
Thirdly there is the ability to have a face to face conversation, The Purple Property Shop is open seven days a week and on bank holidays, so if a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant needs to come in to enquire about anything an agent is always on hand. They’ll even make you a cup of coffee if you want one.
Fourthly there is the accompanied viewings, large local estate agents such as The Purple Property Shop will send very experienced agents with local knowledge who are experts in selling houses to show clients around. An online estate agent based in London (Tepilo) for example will not be able to offer this service.
Fifthly there is the fact that all of our negotiators are local and know the local market. An estate agent’s primary role is to get the best price for a property on behalf of their clients. A local estate agent will employ highly skilled, highly trained negotiators who negotiate property prices on behalf of the sellers, equipped with the local market knowledge and experience, The Purple Property Shop’s negotiating team currently achieve an average of 97% of the asking price on its sales.
Sixthly there is the subject of fees, and while at first glance the online agents may appear to be cheaper this is not necessarily the case. For example most high street agents work on a no sale no fee basis, i.e. if they don’t sell your house you don’t pay them a penny. Most online agents charge up front for a limited amount of selling time (normally six months), if the online agent hasn’t sold your house in this time you have to pay a further fee, this acts as a perverse incentive for the online agent to NOT sell your house. Uniquely The Purple Property Shop offer both choices, no sale no fee or a low cost pay up front option. Customers who choose the pay up front option face no time limit or running out of credit, The Purple Property Shop will advertise these properties until they sell never asking for a further fee and will not stop marketing the property until it has sold. The online agent Purple Bricks try to mislead the public by saying ‘pay now or pay later’, their pay later is NOT A NO SALE NO FEE option, with this option if you remove the property from sale or if the property has been on for ten months you have to pay the fee (and they have a finance company to enforce this). Their fee is £798 including VAT, £199 more expensive than the comparable service with The Purple Property Shop. The Purple Property Shop therefore strongly refute Purple Bricks claim that the average agent charges thousands of pounds to sell the average house and again believe that this is deliberately misleading.
This buy now pay later approach is also adopted by a new company YOPA, despite being reported in the telegraph as not charging an upfront fee, The Purple Property Shop believes this is deliberately misleading and has written to the Telegraph to complain.
Additionally three of the online agents have recently been investigated by the Advertising Standards Association for deliberately misleading clients over their fees, under recent legislation Estate Agents were mandated to advertise all of their fees inclusive of VAT. Despite this legislation, three online agents Purple Bricks, Tepilo and Emoov were deliberately ignoring this law and misleading clients. As such they are currently the subject of an ASA investigation. The Purple Property Shop have always been fully compliant with this law and advertise their fees openly inclusive of VAT.
The Managing Director of The Purple Property Shops is urging other Bolton and Bury High Street Agents to unite together against the recent backlash from Online Agents, Matthew’s view is that while the websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla are a fundamental tool in an estate agents’ locker that undoubtedly assists in selling properties, however this has to be backed up by the local knowledge, personal service and face to face advice that a local agent will provide and the online agent can never offer. Selling and buying on line may be fine for purchases items such as a book or shoes, or maybe even selling an unwanted piece of furniture on an online auction site but choosing to sell a house (the largest asset the majority of people own) in such a way, risks losing the owner thousands of pounds on the value as a consequence.
We hope you will join us in getting behind our campaign and force the press to put the other side of the story across, to protect our local independent businesses and save our high street – sign our petition here
If other local agents would like to offer their support they are encouraged to write to Matthew by email at Matt@purplepropertyshop.com