Purplebricks test: this is what they did and my reaction [UPDATED]

A good day for an update on my experience with Purplebricks…

So the ad went live ahead of an “open day” this weekend with the £2,800/month asking price. After 3 days, nearly 2,000 appearances on results, 47 views of the actual ad we had…. zero viewings booked. And zero people had marked it as a ‘favourite’. I asked my LLE if I should be worried about this – you can over watch these things and perhaps there are other sources of interest to fill the open day (like the corporate contacts he touted during valuation, for example).

He called me to say that he had spoken to a neighbouring LLE who advised that we should drop the asking price to generate as much interest as possible, get a good open day then creating a bidding war to get back to the asking rent. That’s obvious enough and I’m fine with that sort of process (being interested in behavioural economics and auction theory – Dutch auctions are  particularly exciting, by the way) but I didn’t like the way my “15 years in the industry” LLE was openly saying he was taking instruction on how to run the process.  I get he may have been embarrassed about dropping the price but would prefer clearer indications he knew what he was doing. He asked for my permission to drop the price which I gave adding ‘permission’ to run the process however he liked to get the best tenant and best price he could including moving the price around as he saw fit for good measure.

The asking price was dropped to £2,600 for a day (on the neighbouring LLE’s advice) resulting in… zero viewings booked and zero favourites. We then had a déjà vu conversation about the neighbouring LLE’s advice on dropping the price etc resulting in an asking price dropped to £2,395 / month and 4,500 searches, 225 views and… 1 viewing booked. I hope they’re willing to bid high for it!

I did receive a text last night to say he’s hoping to confirm a second (with a traditional agent I’d be suspicious about caspers but that’s harder to do with the PB platform). So I’m hardly blown away by two viewers for an open day. I decided to take a free option and get Foxtons in to also market the house (quoting the “zero [fee] lettings campaign” I heard about at H1 results last week) so they’ll do that over the weekend. There’s no fee to Foxtons unless they’re successful in letting it out and while I’ll still be on the hook for PB fees, I’ll make that call with all the options in front of me at decision time. I’ll be very interested to see how Foxtons and Purplebricks do generating interest head-to-head.

As an aside, the PB LLE has been much more pleasant to spend time with than the raw-meat-eating-hyberbole-riven Foxtons lettings manager – perhaps that’s what’s behind the PB “an estate agent you can love” marketing campaign launched last month – but it’s about results and at the moment indications are that PB won’t get the best one. Let’s see! Have a great weekend.

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