Disruption is coming and it’s absolutely Purplebricks

Mike DelPrete

October 16, 2016

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Property portal analyst Mike DelPrete says he views Purplebricks as a disruptor.

Purplebricks is exactly the type of disruptor the real estate industry should be concerned about, writes tech entrepreneur Mike DelPrete.

Last week an article was published on Realestatebusiness.com.au titled, “Disruption is coming but it ain’t Purplebricks.” The sub-headline is attention-grabbing: “The real estate industry is set for a shake-up, but if you think it’s in the form of agencies such as Purplebricks, you are mistaken.”

The headline and the article prompted me to respond, because Purplebricks is absolutely the type of disruption that is coming to the real estate industry.

To be clear, I’m writing from a neutral position. I was previously the head of strategy at Trade Me, New Zealand’s top portal. I have no ties to Purplebricks whatsoever, but I’ve spent the past nine months looking at new models around the world in real estate that are getting traction.

What disruption looks like

The author makes it sounds like disruption always comes in the same package: big, digital, and transformational. Uber is used as an example, and it’s a good one. Uber is incredibly disruptive! They’ve used technology – coupled with a new business model – to transform how people get from point A to point B.

But let’s not confuse a $15 cab ride with a $500,000 home sale.

These are completely different events in someone’s life, occurring at completely different frequencies and at different scales. Disruption is going to look different for each.

You can trace the concept of disruptive innovation back to Clayton Christensen’s seminal book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. The story I remember most clearly is big disruption in the steel industry, and it’s not a big, whiz-bang, transformational change. It’s about making rebar (steel bars) cheaper than the big guys. That’s where disruption starts.

Why Purplebricks is disruptive

The Purplebricks business model offers the same service as a traditional real estate agent at a fraction of the cost (roughly a 60%-70% savings). To support that model, they’re also changing the way the service is delivered, through a combination of “Local Property Experts,” technology tools, and online support.

While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this model and if it really delivers for consumers, it is incorrect to claim that a new model changing the way real estate is transacted at a fraction of the cost isn’t disruptive.

This is what disruption looks like in real estate, and this is why everyone should be paying attention.

It’s not going to be an app to sell your home. It’s not AI, algorithms, or automation. That’s not what disruptive innovation is going to look like in real estate.

Technology might be able to radically change other businesses where the transaction costs are lower and frequency is higher, but it’s unlikely in real estate. Consumers still want a hand to hold and an expert to guide them.

Disruption is going to come from a company that offers a superior experience at a superior price. And when it comes, it will resonate with consumers and gain significant traction in the marketplace.

Purplebricks and the fixed-fee providers in the UK currently account for 5 per cent market share. That’s tens of thousands of transactions every year – a very big deal! If you want evidence of disruption, just read about the UK’s largest estate agency closing 59 branches, or this choice quote, “The cuts come as online-focused rivals such as Purplebricks are building market share…”

If that isn’t disruption, I’m not sure what is.

Which brings me back to my point: don’t dismiss a new entrant because they don’t fit your idea of what a disruptive player looks like. Even if a new model doesn’t look like Uber, it can still shake up the incumbents.

Yes, disruption is coming to real estate. And it will look a lot like Purplebricks.

Mike DelPrete is  a tech entrepreneur and advisor to start-ups and large firms across the globe. This post was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Mike DelPrete

October 16, 2016

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Acerca de Lucas Vargas:

  • Empezó en Grupo ZAP como el VP de Sales y en 2016 cuando la empresa tenía 60 empleados. Fue nombrado COO de VivaReal tomando el mando de Brian Requarth el Co-Fundador. VivaReal lanzó en Colombia y se trasladó a Brasil. En 2017 se hizo CEO del Grupo ZAP.
  • Ha trabajado en Mexico en PWC y en el Banco Santander
  • Tiene un Master de Business Administration de Harvard
  • En noviembre este año después de la fusión de OLX Brasil y Grupo ZAP fue nombrado el CEO del OLX Business Unit. Lidera la empresa junto con Andries Oudshoorn y Marcos Leite
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Simon Baker is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Online Marketplaces and Property Portal Watch. Involved with property portals for 15 years, he’s a well-recognized expert and industry consultant.
As former CEO/MD of the REA Group for 8 years, Simon led the group to its current market-leading position. When he joined REA Group in 2001, it had $4m in revenues, $6m in losses and an $8m market cap.
By 2008, the company presided over $155m in revenues, $35m in EBITDA and enjoyed a peak market cap of $1b. Simon is currently Chairman of the Mitula Group and Real Estate Investar and a serial portal founder and, investor.