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Estate agents warned over false advertising

Estate agents across the country are finding themselves at the mercy of both the ACA and CAP for not disclosing additional fees to clients as well as inaccurately describing their listed properties.

Estate agents have long suffered from the stigma of dishonesty. Whether or not this stigma is deserved en masse remains to be proven, however, in recent years, the increased competition between various agents has led to a rise in the number of complaints by clients to both the industry watchdog and the Advertising Standards Agency.

Just a few months ago, a number of reports surfaced claiming that online property portals Purplebricks; Housesimple; Hatched; and eMoov were under fire from the ASA due to their failure to disclose the true cost of using their services – with many consumers incurring additional fees on top of the original quoted prices. But despite promises by these portals to be more transparent in the future, it appears that, for Purplebricks at least, those assurances were made with a planned expiry date.

In December, Purplebricks have, yet again, found themselves in trouble with the ASA for false advertising regarding additional fees – this time for not disclosing the fact that a failure to use the in-house conveyancer provided by the agent for the accompanying legal paperwork would lead to a further £360 fee on top of their pre-agreed price. However, the ASA have also been busy fielding complaints regarding high street agents.

In a further blow to the property sales industry, the ASA have received complaints from both house buyers and renters who claim that the language used in various agents’ advertisements inaccurately describe the properties in question.

In one instance, a Liverpool flat was marketed under the pretence that it had ‘beautifully maintained grounds’, when in actuality the ‘grounds’ in question were nothing more than a building site.

While agents are allowed to portray their listings in a favourable light, the Committee of Advertising Practices – who write the rules that the ACA enforce – have stated their intention to take action against dishonest agents in 2018 unless there is a collective marked improvement in consumer satisfaction.

There have also been complaints from estate agents themselves, claiming that rival agencies are unfairly underbidding them by choosing not to include VAT and additional fees into the quotes they provide to customers. The CAP has therefore stated that if a comparison between agents is being made for marketing purposes, then the criteria to which the agencies adhere must be objective, and not open to interpretation.

For individuals who are looking for an agent with whom they can sell, the recent influx of claims regarding the honesty of estate agents is, without doubt, a little off-putting, as a bad reputation can often deter potential buyers. Luckily, if a vendor needs to sell their house fast then there is always the option of using a house-buying company, who can often complete the entire process in less than 2 weeks at competitive prices.

Looking to sell your home? Why not ask National Homebuyers for advice, as we buy any house. Call 08000 443 911 or request a call back to find out how much you could get for your property.

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