Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2020
Mystery still surrounds the number of homes actually sold by Purplebricks, despite upbeat statements regarding the number of instructions it wins.
The agency’s long-standing nemesis - housing analyst Anthony Codling - has returned to the fray, questioning how good its most recent trading figures actually are.
Yesterday Purplebricks said it enjoyed a rise of almost eight per cent in instructions in the first half of its financial year, with revenue per instruction rising three per cent.
It also revealed that its cash position was relatively strong on the back of the sale of its Canadian business - the last overseas venture the agency ended as it retrenched.
But Codling, who now runs PropTech platform Twindig and was an analyst at international investment consultancy Jefferies, says a vital ingredient has been missed by Purplebricks.
“As ever, the key missing metric is how many homes have been sold, but with up-front fee models, you pay your money and takes your choice” he says.
And he continues: “Let’s hope that those looking to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline have made the right choice.”
He points out that Purplebricks will know how many homes it actually and legally sells because the legal completion of a home sale is one of the triggers for payment of the £999 or £1,499 instruction fee for those customers choosing the pay-later option.
In early 2018, when working at Jefferies, Codling conducted an extensive analysis of Purplebricks inventory at the time and concluded that it actually sold only 50 per cent of the properties it advertised online.
This was far below the 88 per cent figure which Purplebricks’ former global chief executive Michael Bruce cited.
"Do you really want to pay £1,000 whether or not you sell your property?" Codling asked at the time.
Purplebricks refuted his analysis in 2018. Then last year the former UK chief executive of the agency - Lee Wainwright - said the 50 per cent claim “simply isn’t true.”
“I can assure you the numbers that have been shared [80 per cent or more] are accurate” said Wainwright last year, adding that he “felt very comfortable being the voice of Purplebricks” defending such figures in the media.
Estate Agent Today has this week asked the agency to say what proportion of its instructions it goes on to sell, to get an updated position. However, the agency says it does not comment on this issue.
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