Arun Estate Agencies placed a press ad, which appeared on 18 November 2011, that was intended to promote its partnership with Homewise, who provide moving options for those over 60 years of age.
However, the ASA ruled the ad as “misleading” to consumers.
The advert read: “If you are over sixty and looking to move home, we offer an option that enables you to reduce the price of your chosen property by up to 40%, depending upon your age”.
At the bottom of the page, the ad showed a number of examples of properties with significantly reduced prices.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because he understood that those who took up the plan were purchasing a lifetime lease on a property that they would not own outright once the plan had finished, which the ad made unclear.
Arun Estate Agencies said the ad was intended to promote a plan offered by Homewise that was known as the “Home for Life Plan”.
They said the plan allowed qualifying applicants to reduce the cost of their next property and, if required, retain ownership of a proportion of the home which would form part of their own estate when they died.
They pointed out that the ad said the plan was “An alternative approach to housebuying” and they believed they had taken reasonable steps to ensure readers understood that what was offered was not a conventional purchase and that they should call an advisor for more information.
The ASA said: “We noted that the ad referred to the plan as “An alternative approach to housebuying” that enabled clients to “reduce the price of your chosen property” and “afford a house that was previously outside your budget”.
“However, we noted that there was no direct reference to the nature of the relationship that would exist between Homewise and the client.
“Although we accepted that readers would be aware that what was being offered was not a conventional purchase, we thought it was unclear that what the client would be buying was a lease from Homewise and not the property itself.”
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.