Purplebricks lashes out at negative Australia media reporting as unhappy agents keep departing

Purplebricks lashes out at negative Australia media reporting as unhappy agents keep departing
Purplebricks lashes out at negative Australia media reporting as unhappy agents keep departing

Purplebricks has appointed of Neil Tavender to the role of chief operating officer in its struggling Australian outpost.

Tavender is a former sales director at UK-based listings portal Rightmove, before he worked as commercial property director at propertyfinder.com.

“Neil Tavender has been appointed to the new position of group COO of Purplebricks to support the growth of the business," a spokesperson said.

"Neil has a wealth of real estate knowledge, combined with many years of Australian board-level sales, marketing and digital experience."

Mr Tavender was granted share options worth approximately $2.5 million on his appointment.

His appointment followed the recent departure of New South Wales-based Brent May, its national sales director.

May had joined "well positioned to draw on his 25 years of real estate experience."

"There is no doubt in my mind that Purplebricks is the smart way to sell property," May had suggested when he was at the low commission agency.

Leaked documents obtained by the AFR earlier this year showed that NSW agents were struggling to get vendors to sign up despite the low commission policy.

Industry leader Hayden Groves says Purplebricks aren't offering proper real estate agents.

The staff shuffle comes as Purplebricks' struggles continue to capture dreadful headlines from aggrieved former staff.

Its numbers have dipped to 90 from its 105 high late last year with many agents quitting because they could not make a living.

Jason van Straalen, a former agent at Purplebricks in Australia, is the latest to have claimed the hybrid model will not work in a declining market.

van Straalen has said that he quit after earning less than half of what he was told he would earn.

He has also accused Purplebricks of a bullying culture, as agents struggled to reach targets.

He says he worked 80-hour weeks and secured 67 listings in 13 months, but only managed to sell 20.

van Straalen talked to the Australian Financial Review, which ran the interview originally under the headline: “Inside the Purplebricks sweatshop: former agent accuses it of toxic culture”.

He also suggested that share options promised after six months did not materialise.

The UK-based Property Industry EYE website has noted the Purplebricks Australian boss Ryan Dinsdale emailed his team alleging that the recent Financial Review story gave it no opportunity to respond.

It was something that EYE did although Purplebricks did not take them up on the invitation.

“You may have seen that the AFR have published another article today," Dinsdale says in his email.

"Despite having a right to respond to such content we were sadly not given any opportunity by the AFR and the article was printed without any balanced, factual comment from Purplebricks.

"We have asked the AFR what their agenda is and why we were not respectfully given the opportunity to respond to this one-sided story.

“In any event, what is clear to me is this article simply highlights that there are a small number of former agents who don’t share our values as a business.”

An earlier email, dated June, from Dinsdale referring to another Financial Review story told staff that selling more than 3,500 homes in Australia indicate the agents were "excelling – this tells us we have a long term future in this market and we are a popular proposition amongst sellers and agents."

“To suggest that traditional agent models are better suited to a slowing market shows a lack of understanding of how Purplebricks works,” Dinsdale added.

van Straalen has now set up his own fixed-fee agency JVS Real Estate.

Commissions Purplebricks

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