Purplebricks test: mixed performance letting my house. Now on to the real proof [UPDATED]

The next stages in renting my house in London. PB sent a local expert to take the photos for my house for let. His background was also telling. He was a sub-

LLE so still runs his own business but gives 15% to the main license holder who I wrote about in my previous blog. He was 24 and had worked in lettings for 4 years but only with PB for 6 months. He had previously worked for a letting agent in prime central London and invested £20k to buy a share in a high-end private agency and lost it all. Why did it fail? He felt it was led by the wrong person who was more interested in positioning as high-end than providing the service and ultimately it was the extortionate lease costs for the lovely, large shop that killed them. Interestingly, he volunteered that “You don’t get any leads from walk-ins anymore”. That’s why he personally joined PB – he thinks the model is good for his future. So he was fine but it was a shame that at the time he was due to arrive he texted me to say he would be 45 mins late (traffic) and at that time texted again with another 45 min (same traffic) delay. Once he arrived (very apologetic) he was friendly, professional and earnest (disclaimer: charming hides a lot as per previous comments) took the photos and left. Overall a good, attentive service once he’d arrived but 1.5hrs late can’t be a modus operandi for any service based business.

 

The advert

Two days later a draft of the advert was flagged as being ready for me to view. First thoughts? Underwhelmed. It was sparsely worded and had some generic detail like how close to the tube the house is but it missed some features of the house – decorating standard, wired ethernet that might appeal to the corporate market, in-ceiling speakers including bathrooms (which might appeal to the oligarch market) – and lacked local detail like nearby schools and attractions (high street, grade 2-listed historic park, boating lake etc) so I added those myself. Clearly it relies on me to have the real local knowledge. That’s ok but I thought the system could reflect that eg with a simple “Why do you like living in this area / in this house?” question at some point in the sign up. I can only guess he’ll now use my advert for details whenever he gets anything to let in the nearby area. Also of the 40 photos that were taken only 5 looked attractive so we went for those leaving some gaps.

With my additions, the advert went back to the LLE who improved it significantly- it finally seemed to get the attention it needed. Once we’ve both approved it, it will then go live and the first open day will be organised. That’s going to be the real test. What tenants can Purplebricks get through to and what rent can they achieve? Let’s see.

 

Thoughts? Could up its game in the mid-process but it won’t matter if they get good tenants

So I’ve been impressed with how responsive they’ve been and it feels like we’re getting a lot of attention. They genuinely want to get the process moving (despite the flat fee being already committed) but the photos, ad and local knowledge was lacklustre without my input. Of course, I won’t care about any of that if they get a good tenant at a good rent, so let’s see.

As for the local knowledge, perhaps PB is passively relying on a network effect to grow its local knowledge- it now knows about my area. Also note that, as shown in my previous mail, PB hasn’t really grown in lettings in the past month and it’s clear that the estate agency business is driving it. There’s room for improvement in lettings mid-process. I’ll update about how well they generate tenant interest, the open days and getting it rented when those happen. We’re now on to the sink or soar stage- I’ve a feeling it will be one of those extremes.

 

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