Purplebricks’ UK sales figures dispute probably won’t happen stateside

Flat-fee brokerage seeking to infiltrate U.S. fights analyst claims across the pond

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Purplebricks, one of the buzziest flat-fee real estate startups abroad, is six months into its attempt to infiltrate the U.S. market. But a dispute raising questions about its sales figures in the U.K. has the potential to influence how the company is viewed in the U.S — even if the same problems won't pop up here. Purplebricks' troubles started earlier this month, when an analyst at the firm Jefferies put out research suggesting that although the company claims to sell 78 percent of the homes it lists, the real figure was closer to 50 percent. Purplebricks' stock tumbled in the weeks after the report. Like some U.S. startups, Purplebricks aims to woo consumers by charging a flat fee for selling their homes instead of a standard percentage commission. The difference with Purplebricks is that the startup charges that flat fee — $3,200 in the United States — before the home sells. If the home doesn't sell, the fee is not refunded. Purplebricks strongly denied the claim...