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Exclusive: Purplebricks buys high street agent’s lettings management business

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Purplebricks has acquired the lettings management business of a traditional, and prominent, high street firm.

In answer to EYE’s questions, Purplebricks has confirmed the purchase has gone ahead, but has not explained the reasons for the acquisition or gone into any detail.

The firm whose lettings business it has bought is Venmores, well known in the north-west.

It is unclear whether the purchase heralds a change of direction for Purplebricks, including whether this is the start of an acquisition programme of high street agents, or whether this is a deal allowing Purplebricks to beef up its lettings portfolio online.

The price paid has not been disclosed as Purplebricks confirmed the acquisition but was tight-lipped about any detail.

The Venmore Group has three brands across the Wirral, Liverpool, Sefton, Southport and Chester. They are Venmore, with two branches in Liverpool city centre; Bradshaw Farnham & Lea, in Wirrall and Chester; and Ball & Percival, with two branches in Southport.

We asked whether the acquisition means that Purplebricks will now have a bricks and mortar presence on the high street, whether it will retain the existing Venmores brands, or whether the property portfolio will be brought online into Purplebricks.

At the weekend, a Purplebricks spokesperson told us: “We are pleased to confirm the acquisition of Venmores and the various brands that make up their lettings management business. This strengthens and expands our lettings management business.”

However, the spokesperson said Purplebricks would provide no comment on any of our questions.

The Venmores business dates back to 1849, and began by managing rows of terrace houses let on weekly tenancies.

In late 2008, at the worst of the housing crash, Liverpool’s prominent Venmore Partnership, together with Ball & Percival, was acquired by Bradshaw, Farnham & Lea. Venmore had been actively seeking a rescue deal after it was reported as having been unable to pay its staff salaries, having already closed offices and made redundancies.

Today the Venmore Group business is headed by chairman Paul Lea and Rob Farnham, chief executive.

  • Separately, yesterday’s Mail on Sunday carried a story about online firms under the headline of “A few home truths about estate agents”. The story said that sellers can save a lot of money by going through online agents. It quoted as an example: “High street agents charge around 1.5% on the sale price. If you sell a property for £330,000 when VAT has been added you will see around £5,400 of the proceeds go the the agent. Sell for £600,000 and the agent pockets a whopping £10,800.” We are sure our readers may want to do something with the maths. The Mail story also said that Purplebricks is listing 9,000 properties for sale, while House Simple sold over 1,800 homes last year, more than double the number than in 2015. The story also quotes Countrywide’s ‘managing director for retail’, Sam Tyrer, who told the paper that online services can work for some sellers.

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