Estate agents, both high street and digital, have been the subject of a host of investigations from the advertising authorities of late, often over misleading claims. Online estate agents in particular have been repeatedly reprimanded, to the point that consumer champion Which? has issued warnings to consumers to be on their guard against overzealous claims and promises.
And earlier this week the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published details of a £370,000 fine issued to six estate agents who were found guilty of forming an illegal cartel to keep commission rates high.
In the latest series, the ASA investigated three complaints. One was raised against agency Lewis Gray over its claim in circulars that it was a member of Zoopla. Lewis Gray confirmed to the ASA that it was no longer using Zoopla and that the circular had been discontinued.
Sheffield agency Happy Sales and Lettings also attracted a complaint, in this case over the use of a table listing the sold and unsold properties of a host of competitors. One of those competitors, Crucible Sales and Lettings, questioned whether the table was misleading.
The ASA noted that the ad was no longer appearing, and that Happy Sales and Lettings “provided assurances” that future comparisons would be based on objective criteria, presented in a clear way, and direct consumers to where they could get the information to verify any claims made.
Finally, a circular distributed by a RE/MAX agent attracted a complaint due its claim that “only” this agent could get vendors the highest possible price. A complainant challenged whether this could be substantiated; after the ASA approached the agent, the firm promised not to use the ad again.