Purplebricks launched with much fanfare in Perth and Western Australia in March 2017, promising to 'disrupt the decades-old commission model used to sell property'.
The media touted it as the 'Uber' of real estate, with some believing it was about to dismantle the industry and usher in a new era for sellers. There was much hand wringing and consternation from some quarters - notably from real estate agents, who said it was all too good to be true.
Nearly two years down the track and Purplebricks are still around. But is the service any good in WA, and what are users of the platform saying?
First let’s take a look at how it all works.
The Purplebricks model
The Purplebricks business model is very simple - it is based on a flat fee instead of an agent commission.
You still get the services of a local agent - Purplebricks calls them 'Local Property Experts' or LPE, who you deal with - albeit on a much reduced scale. They are your point of contact, but being an online business, you're required to also interact with their customer service call centre.
"You still get the services of a local agent - Purplebricks calls them 'Local Property Experts' or LPE, who you deal with - albeit on a much reduced scale."
In addition to this, there is one other small difference you need to know about - if your home does not sell, you must still pay the fee. They give you up to 12 months to market and sell your property, but if it fails to sell within that time frame, you'll lose your money.
In reality, the Purplebricks offering is not the same as selling with a real estate agent. It's very much like a ‘lite’ or vanilla version of the real thing.
Now, let’s take a look at their fees in WA, and what is and isn’t included in the Purple package.
Read more about the model: How does Purplebricks work?
Purplebricks fees in Western Australia
- $5,769 inc. GST for sale by private treaty
- $6,369 inc. GST for sale by auction
As you can see, you pay more for sale by auction as there is the auctioneers fee to pay. Needless to say, however, Purplebricks does organise this for you, as well as helping run the auction on the day.
If you are interested to know what the fee goes toward, Purplebricks itemises these on their website as: photography ($250), signboard ($150), property portal ($100), auction ($545), instruction and admin ($1,280) and advert creation, copywriting, creative design and Purplebricks platform ($3,674).
What is included in the Purple package?
And what's included in the package, you ask? Your Purplebricks fee covers the costs of:
- An in-person property appraisal at your home
- The services of a dedicated 'Local Property Expert' for processes such as negotiations and private viewings
- A 'For Sale' board
- A listing on their website, as well as realestate.com.au and Domain
- A photography package, digital brochure and photobook
- Floor plans for your listing
- An auctioneer
- 24/7 phone support
- Access to their online portal
Your package does not include any upgrades to your listing on realestate.com.au and Domain, or any additional photography you may want - like a video walk-through of your property. It also doesn't include any upgraded marketing materials, like a bigger 'For Sale' board or any printed brochures.
Additionally, your legal fees will need to paid for separately - and if you opt for the Pay Later option, you'll need to use their conveyancer or "pay an additional fee of $360".
Paying the Purplebricks fee
You have two payment options when it comes to the fee - paying in full up front or delaying it until your property sells/the deferred payment date.
As you can see, the Pay Now option is very different from a traditional real estate transaction, where you pay your agent post-sale; often out of the sale proceeds. Purplebricks' Pay Later option, on the other hand, more closely approximates a 'traditional' real estate transaction. Even with this option, though, there's a slight twist as a third party collects the fee, not Purplebricks.
So what sort of service coverage can you expect in WA?
Purplebricks reach in Western Australia
If you use the search function on the Purplebricks site, you can get a sense of their state coverage as a whole. They appear to be limited to Perth and other large regional centres, with very little presence in rural WA. This is consistent with their coverage in other states.
"They appear to be limited to Perth and other large regional centres, with very little presence in rural WA."
In terms of their performance in WA, and according to their listing on realestate.com.au, Purplebricks has sold 252 properties to date in Western Australia. In August 2018, they had 348 properties for sale in the state.
Independent property information portal PropertyNerd has done some analysis of Purplebricks performance, and their results detail sales in WA (August 2016 to May 2018) at 138 out of 405 total listings. If this data is correct, it would indicate that they've sold approximately 34% of their listings since they launched in the state.
Related: Using Purplebricks in Queensland
Purplebricks reviews: what are consumers saying?
Like any service business, Purplebricks has been the recipient of both positive and negative reviews online.
Some consumers appreciated the savings and efficiency, such as user Douglas Harris, here writing on Google reviews, “Purple Bricks did an effective and efficient sale of our property, with minimal fuss and expense to us”. User Kaitlyn Isabel had a similar experience stating, “My partner and I were super nervous about selling our house and the team at Purplebricks made the process incredibly simple and straightforward”.
Other people who have used Purplebricks complained of limited support from LPE's who have not given their listings the attention they expected. And it is not only consumers who have had an issue with the platform. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) has also voiced concerns about Purplebricks and how they advertise their service, stating, "Their agents have no fiduciary interest in ensuring the vendor achieves the best possible result because they’re not remunerated by achieving a result other than listing. This in itself is not a problem other than that’s not made clear to consumers”.
At the end of the day, you need to do your research on any real estate service - be that fixed-fee or a traditional agent - and know what you're signing up for.