Will the Mystery Estate Agent Please Stand Up
A new ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority has created an element of mystery.
The ASA is empowered to make rulings on advertising that is false or misleading and to impose orders and sanctions for non-compliance. Recently they have had cause to investigate an estate agency website called houser.co.uk.
Houser.co.uk is slightly mysterious. The site does not specify who owns it and the contact information is self referential in that it is an email address at houser.co.uk. The site appears to have been around since 2015 and states that its aim is to offer advertising for estate and letting agents without the high fees of more commonly used platforms.
The ASA received a complaint that an advert for a property seen on the site in January 2019 and marked as available for sale was in fact an advert from when the property had been on the market in 2016. It was therefore misleading.
The ASA was unable to contact the site owner or identify them but the web hosting company, Fasthosts, agreed to pass on a letter. The ASA did not receive any reply and unsurprisingly ruled that the advert must be removed.
While houser.co.uk did not reply to the ASA it seems that their intervention has had some effect. Currently the site appears to have no property adverts on it at all and now only has area guides so it appears that someone has paid attention to this ruling.
While this decision is a little unusual it highlights the importance for all agents of ensuring that their online adverts are up to date and that properties do not remain on display when they are no longer available.
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