Online agency Purplebricks to float this month

Online agency Purplebricks will float on the stock market this month, with an estimated value of over £200m.

The agency was set up by Michael Bruce and his brother, Kenny, after selling high street estate agency Burchell Edwards to Connells in 2011. The firm launched in April 2014, joining a wave of new online agencies aiming to disrupt and transform the old-fashioned industry.

“Seventy per cent of our traffic happens when [traditional] estate agents are shut,” Bruce tells the Guardian . “You can make an offer at seven o’clock at night.”

The company has so far raised £58m from selling shares to institutional investors looking for a reward further down the line. One of the most prominent backers is fund manager Neil Woodford, who will remain the biggest shareholder following the flotation with a 28.7 per cent stake. Other investors include the founder of payday loans company Wonga.

Purplebricks has grown to list over 4,000 residential properties online, with its market share among the top six online agencies increasing to more than 60 per cent, it tells the newspaper.

Like most online rivals, such as easyProperty and eMoov, its appeal is in the cheaper service: the company changes a flat fee of £665+VAT for a sale, with a premium fee for those in London or additional services such as EPCs or viewings.

It also has a network of 165 local agents to visit and value properties, with the business also launching in Scotland this autumn.

The IPO is intended to help boost its presence north of the border, as well as generally boost the brand’s awareness, technology and employee count.

The company is expected to have a value of around £240m when shares trade on a scheduled date of Thursday 17th December, raising a potential £25m. The flotation will make the firm the first online estate agent to debut on the stock market.

Bruce says the company is aiming to expand overseas too, where it can undercut even more expensive estate agent fees.

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