Former Burchell Edward brothers return to estate agency

A new online estate agency, Purplebricks.com, is being backed by former Capita boss Paul Pindar.

The business was launched this week by brothers Michael and Kenny Bruce who used to run high street estate agency firm Burchell Edwards.

Purplebricks.com, in which Pindar is said to have made a “significant investment”, is set to go live next month.

It will charge a fixed non-returnable price of £599 for sales rather than work on a ‘no sale, no fee’ model. There will be a one-off fee of £199 for rentals.

The £599 fee will be paid up-front, following a valuation. Customers will get property details, floor plans, photographs and a listing on property websites including Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation.

Purplebricks is promising to be “the world’s first 24/7 estate agent that combines the human face of the estate agency model with a unique, fully interactive and online platform”. It will also use a call centre in Southend that will be permanently available.

The Bruces sold Burchell Edwards to Connells in 2011, three years after the firm was placed into voluntary liquidation and then swiftly bought out of administration by the brothers – after shedding 32 staff.

After selling the 16-office business for an undisclosed sum, the brothers concentrated on a new business, JKM Property Solutions.

JKM Property Solutions had a complicated offering involving the sale of properties requiring refurbishment. The business had Harry Hill, former Countrywide boss, as its chairman, who poured £1.5m into the venture.

JKM proved unsuccessful and closed down in early 2012.

The Purplebricks website currently gives little away, other than to say that “a convenient, cost effective and instant estate agency service” is launching soon across the UK that will “save you a fortune”.

We did, however, notice a teaser campaign for Purplebricks.com as long ago as February of last year.

Purplebricks.com has its own Linked-in account where it claims to have “developed the future”. It adds that it will be launching initially in the south of England and then quickly grow across the UK.

It also reports that it has been training new recruits.

Pindar, 54, spend 26 years at Capita as managing director and chief executive before stepping down last month to return to the private equity business. The size of his investment in Purplebricks.com is not known.

Pindar said: “I believe Purplebricks will really shake up an industry that is in desperate need of a change. Michael and Kenny Bruce not only have excellent sector experience but also a genuine passion and desire to deliver a much better and more affordable service for customers.”

Michael Bruce, chief executive of Purplebricks, said: “The traditional estate agency model has been left untouched for too long and is now completely outdated.”

Other stakeholders include Martin Bolland, Capita’s chairman, together with venture capital firm MLC50 LP, and technology fund DN Capital.

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4 Comments

  1. Richard Hair

    Another day, another online agent! Wow, that must be news!

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  2. grumskikorski

    Successful track record of businesses-I don’t think anyone need worry!!

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  3. Christopher Watkin

    I will give them their due, the model is very good, and I’m not a big fan of online models. This is different .. I think you might be pleasantly surprised

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  4. chriswoodsthethird92

    I do hope Christoper Watkin bought shares…

     

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