The average local estate agency branch is around 3km (about 1.9 miles) away from their properties – whereas Local Property Experts with Purplebricks list properties that are typically 10km (about six miles) apart from each other.
The claim comes from estate agency comparison website GetAgent, but doubt has been cast as to the independence of its research.
The proptech firm focuses on making its money from local high street firms and does not include online agents in its comparisons issued to consumers.
Would-be vendors using GetAgent wanting a valuation fill in an online form, giving their property details. In return, they get back a list of the most suitable local agents, based on their successes as to, for example, selling properties with four bedrooms in the area.
Last night a spokesperson for GetAgent told EYE: “We make our money from any full service estate agent. Vendors come to us looking for the best estate agents and we provide them a list of the best agents in their area, based purely on their past performance.
“We charge the estate agent £50 for each valuation lead we present them. We don’t have an issue with online agents but they do not appear on our lists as they do not offer the full agency service and so it would be an unfair comparison.
“Our focus is really on making sure the best agents are rewarded by receiving more valuation appointments and our vendors are happy as they are able to pick an estate agent that is going to do the best job.”
In its new exercise, GetAgent has specifically looked at the word ‘local’.
It concludes that: “Purplebricks Local Property Experts [are] far from local.”
While the research measured the distances differently, it also found that the average LPE had “substantially” more listings than estate agency branches.
The firm says it analysed over 14,000 estate agency branches and all property listings – more than 1m in total – over the first six months of this year.
Researchers also spoke to a number of agents, both corporate and local, although Purplebricks said it had not been invited to contribute.
The analysis found that London agents Kinleigh Folkard Hayward were closest to their properties, at just over 1km, while Sequence branches were furthest, at just over 3.5km.
Turning to online agents, and using Purplebricks as its only example, GetAgent claims that “what determines the area they cover is the leads that are generated from the main website. As such, they often pick up listings from a wider catchment area than high street estate agents.”
The research found that an LPE listed 90 properties on the main portals in the six-month period, exactly double the 45 listings of the average high street branch.
This meant that Purplebricks’ LPEs “have further to travel between properties AND more properties to visit,” GetAgent concludes.
It also found that the closer the estate agency branches are to their properties, the fewer properties they list.
The research acknowledges that Purplebricks is on a drive to recruit more LPEs so coverage of a large area “may be a short-term issue”.
Asked about the difference in the way high street branches and Local Property Experts were assessed in terms of distance, a spokesperson for GetAgent told EYE: “For us, the most important factor was how local an estate agent is to the properties they list. This is what gives them their local knowledge over time and their local database which are seen as key. They get to know an area and their branch is the hub. So for the high street agents the stronger measurement for us was branch to listing distance.
“Obviously Purplebricks don’t have a branch and the closest comparison we felt was distance between two listings. Given that 10km is the average distance between two listings we can conclude that the catchment area they cover is incredibly large.
“We did consider measuring the distance between two listings for both the high street agents and Purplebricks but we didn’t feel this focused on the fact that agent proximity to properties is the real key. This would have made it easier to make a direct comparison but doesn’t give you an idea of how close branches are to their properties, which is what we felt was most interesting.”
The spokesperson claimed the average catchment area for a Purplebricks Local Property Expert is 295.19km2 (183 sq miles), and that the biggest territory is 9440.19km2 (5,866 sq miles) for a Local Property Expert based in Inverness.
A spokesperson for Purplebricks said: “Purplebricks is a truly national brand with a local presence. As last reported in June 2017 we work with over 540 Local Property Experts across the UK, a number that is constantly rising as customer demand grows.
“It is encouraging the report has calculated that on average each of our LPEs list twice as many properties as the average high street branch.
“We have not seen the details or methodology behind the research or been invited to contribute, so cannot comment on the accuracy and validity of the data and calculations.”
The full GetAgent research is here:
See also Paul Smith’s column immediately below – and how he views “local” and “expert”.