A story published this week in Forbes reported that Purple Bricks Canada offered employees paid days off for made up 5 Star Reviews on Facebook and Google.
In March of 2019, Purple Bricks, formerly known as Comfree, ran a contest within their brokerage. The goal was to get friends and family members to write glowing reviews of the brokerage “whether or not” they were customers of Purplebricks. There were detailed instructions on how to game the system. to avoid violating Facebook and Google terms.
This is wrong on so many levels.
Purplebricks promotes itself as a low cost alternative to the traditional real estate brokerage. They cater to a part of the market that wants a DIY model and who believes that they don’t require the full services of a Realtor to get themselves the results they’d like (such as Property Guys). The truth is, there’s plenty of room in the market for that model.
We’re seeing it across industries – an influx of budget-friendly and DIY clothing, furniture and even restaurants. This is paired with an equally popular rise in high-end goods and services. (in Guelph in particular, we’ve seen a massive trend of boutique cheese shops, eco-friendly household goods, high end grocery stores). As a full service brokerage, we stand by the service that we offer, and we are happy to compete. I believe in a competitive market place. It keeps us on the top of our game and working to provide the best consumer experience possible.
We’re also seeing a surge in apps and tools that allow buyers to get more information. Apps such as HouseSigma for example, allow buyers to get sold price information to form their own conclusions on value. Before these apps, buyers had to rely on Realtors to provide this information to them
Consumers have, and deserve choice
Consumers, now more than ever, deserve choice. They can have full service, or a do-it yourself model to a save a little money. There are a number of factors to consider when selling your home, including a clear marketing strategy. Some homeowners will wait a bit longer and work a bit harder to receive a higher price for their home. Others prioritize convenience over everything else, and so the path of least resistance is taken. Opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of marketing approaches, but the same essential goal: SOLD.
“Budget” Brokerages boast a cheaper process to achieve the same results. But do they? Like many small businesses, agents and brokerages rely on referrals and reviews for their business. Likewise, consumers too rely on the recommendations of others when there is so much choice in the market. And herein lies the issue.
All real estate brokerages in Ontario, including Purplebricks operate under a strict code of ethics. These ethics are around advertising and how we act with consumers. Soliciting and encouraging false reviews in order to get more business violates the code of ethics. But it also violates advertising standards on many fronts.
Is Purple Bricks a real estate brokerage?
Yes, Purple Bricks is a registered real estate brokerage in Ontario. And, quite frankly, their actions deserve the attention of our governing body, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO).
Our brokerage and team members work hard everyday to earn the trust of our clients. We provide them with a stellar real estate experience. Our reviews are genuine. When companies try to cheat the system, everyone ends up losing trust and credibility.
Purplebricks, and this example of what they were willing to do in order to grow their business speaks volumes. Volumes about the corners that people are willing to cut in order to gain an advantage. If they are prepared to game the system to find a way to look better, then what? How quickly will they cut corners when it comes to defending the value in the sale of your home?
DEC 2021 update: Purple Bricks announced on December 1, 2021 that they will now we known as “Fairsquare”. Fairsquare.ca is the same brokerage model as PurpleBricks with a new look.
This is the third brand identity of the company in 3 years, which may signal a struggling model.
Our take on Purple Bricks:
Beth and Ryan Waller, Realtors Guelph have personally dealt with Purple Bricks in Guelph on a number of occasions. They have even had a transaction in 2019 with PurpleBricks. We were representing a buyer purchasing a home listed by the owners and Purple Bricks. The agent “assigned to us” was excellent and knowledgeable on real estate, but not the Guelph market specifically. Therefore, the process left something to be desired.
The model has a buyers REALTOR® calling a toll free number (envision a call centre). We submitted an offer to a generic email address. Who knows what happens to it once received, but eventually the sellers agent would call us. The whole transaction was a bit awkward, but we got the job done. Our clients successfully purchasing the home at what we believe was under market value.
There is always going to be a market for a do it yourself model to real estate. However this model is still clunky and impersonal and it’s questionable that the seller actually comes out ahead. Sure, they save a little bit on commission to list the house. But how much are they leaving on the table when the offers come in? It’s quite likely a lot.
Beth and Ryan Waller are Real Estate Agents with Home Group Realty.