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  • Mal McCallion

Purple Zombie

Updated: Apr 26

This is definitely a movie sequel I’ve seen before.

In the first film, a relatively stable community is suddenly overrun by brutal invaders, parasitically feeding off the locals’ hard work until finally they are defeated by the grim refusal of the townsfolk to back down. As the last of the looters’ bodies are being buried and the credits are about to roll, we see a slight twitch in one of their cold, dead fingers …

And here we are, as the second film gets underway. The invaders – let’s call them Purplebricks – are starting a mindless, zombie reincarnation of their reign of terror; only this time doing it for £0, as long as you’ll take their conveyancing and mortgage services.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the vendor living room, the ultimate industry cash pit is here to suck in a chunk of your profit, on top of the £194m – yes, one hundred and ninety-four million pounds – Purplebricks raised before it was ultimately sold for a quid to Strike.

The only good news? Purplebricks was sold to Strike.

Lest we forget, Strike is a business that itself has yet to make a profit through its optimistic (kind) / ridiculous (less kind) business model of not charging homemovers for their 'service'. Recall that this is a service that occurs at a moment in people’s lives that is one of the most stressful ever. If it is to be successful in the eyes of its inexperienced – and often easily-led – customer, the service requires incredible attention to detail, negotiation prowess, project management expertise, marketing creativity, regulatory knowledge, compliance diligence, extraordinary resilience and ultimately the skill (for it is a skill) of closing a deal.

To recap – Purplebricks is now going to charge £0 for this. Having gone bust once already, when they were charging £1,000 for the same thing – and chewing through £194m in investment.

The tragedy is that they will convince some people to use them. These people will not realise that, in return for their £0, they are actually subtracting value in their most valuable asset. A traditional estate agent will negotiate hard to get the highest price for their vendors’ property – why would Purplebricks do the same? Every minute spent in that negotiation costs the business money – and this is a business that gets [checks notes] £0 for every minute of bothering.

When the inevitable happens and they go bust again (taking Strike with them), they will have done lasting damage to some people’s lives. Again. Because this isn’t like choosing a cheap Christmas pudding over a quality one - this is like choosing a cheap parachute over a quality one. It has long-term impact. Possibly tens of thousands of pounds of impact, lost forever on the value of a home.

So as the Purplebricks' zombies lurch around your neighbourhoods, biting chunks out of vendor expectations on fees, don’t consider it poor form to point out the contradictions in their £0 offering. If paying a standard £3,500 fee to an agent achieves a price £10,000 higher than it would otherwise have been, due to the agent’s skills working for the homeowner in marketing, negotiation and closure – and paying £0 to Purplebricks gets them £0 extra in house price, plus 0 hours of a skilled agent working in alignment with their dreams – even the braindead could probably work out that this is a horrific idea.

Like every film’s zombie horde, Purplebricks need stopping before they do even more damage to people’s lives. And, this time, another sequel has to be impossible.

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