The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint alleging that an online promotion for Housesimple was “misleading”.
The ad, placed at the top of the the online estate agent’s landing page, featured the text “Sell your home for free” and in smaller text “with the online estate agent of the year”, next to an image of a house with a ‘sold’ sign outside.
Estate agent Manning Stainton claimed the former call to action was misleading.
In response, Housesimple said that it marketed every property for free for an initial six-month period. At the end of that period, it performed a market review on the property and if it felt that it could collaborate with the vendor to sell the property, the marketing period was extended free of charge.
Housesimple added that it has “never charged anyone” for marketing beyond the six-month period, nor had it “ever refused anyone marketing beyond that period of time”.
After assessing the advert, the ASA rejected the complaint and considered consumers would interpret the claim, “Sell your home for free”, to mean that they would not be charged for using Housesimple’s service to sell their home.
Additionally, the ASA said this was “reinforced” by text further down the web page which stated: “No fees, No commission, No catch” and by the ‘ticked’ list of services next to it, which included “Local expert valuation”, “Professional photos and floorplan” and “Ads on Rightmove, Zoopla and many more”.
A statement by the ASA read: “We understood Manning Stainton had raised their complaint based on various provisions in Housesimple’s terms and conditions. These included a clause which stated that after an initial six-month period, marketing of a property would be reviewed and marketing would only be continued for free at their discretion.
“Additional clauses also stated that Housesimple reserved the right to charge reasonable travel costs to get to a remote property and to charge for additional ‘for sale’ boards.”
It continued: “However, although those clauses were in place, we understood that Housesimple had never charged their customers for marketing beyond the initial six-month period, for travel costs or for additional ‘for sale’ boards.
“We considered consumers were likely to understand that they would not be able to sell their house for free in areas where the advertiser’s service was not provided at all. For those reasons we concluded that the claim ‘Sell your home for free’ was not misleading.”