Elusive property portal Houser rapped by advertising watchdog over out-of-date property listing

Mysterious property portal Houser has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for listing a property that was taken off the market two years ago.

However, last night, EYE could still see the same property listed on Houser, via agents Newton Fallowell. Although a ‘flash’ note said the property was no longer available, photos and floorplans still flagged up the distinctive property.

The elderly owners had previously expressed horror at their home still being visible online after a burglary last year.

The property, in Lincolnshire, was originally put on the market with agents Newton Fallowell but did not sell and was withdrawn.

The owners were subsequently shocked to discover that, without their knowledge or consent, their home was listed on Houser as late as March this year, according to the complaint.

Newton Fallowell challenged whether the ad was misleading because the property had been removed from the market two years ago.

The elusive Houser did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.

The ASA said it was concerned by Houser’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, and ruled that they had breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule (1.7 (Unreasonable delay).

The ASA’s ruling reads: “We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.

“We considered that consumers would have understood from the ad that the property was still on the market, as it was still on the website.

“We understood that it was, in fact, not and had not been for two years. The advertiser had not provided any evidence that it was and so we therefore concluded the ad was misleading.”

The ASA ruled: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Houser Ltd to remove the property listing from their website, and to ensure that properties which were no longer on the market were removed from their listings. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.”

Houser launched in early 2015, taking agents’ listings without their knowledge and putting many in danger of inadvertently breaching OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal’ rule. OnTheMarket was also launching at much the same time.

Houser still appears to be listing agents’ properties, but they may not be up to date and, like the property at the centre of the ASA ruling, are likely to be no longer on the market.

In EYE’s home town of Fleet, Hampshire, yesterday, we found the newest listings (by Prospect – do they know?) were added on January 20 this year.

However, we also found listings dating back to December 2014, with nothing to suggest these properties have been sold or withdrawn.

In London, the newest listing (VEL Estate) was added to the Houser site on June 9.

Yesterday, we did try to get in contact with Houser founder Rocky Mirza but, like the ASA, had no success.

The link below goes back to EYE’s original story about the property concerned in the new ASA case, and also gives links to help agents check whether their properties are being listed on Houser:

Seller’s distress at finding her home on controversial Houser portal two years after withdrawal from sale

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6 Comments

  1. El Burro

    ‘Did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries’? So what are the ASA going to do next, insist he go on the naughty step?

    How about getting this guy banned from holding a directorship? That may elicit a response.

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    1. Beam Splitter

      The ASA’s ruling reads: “We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.

      So they didn’t reply, and the ASA sent another message basically saying, “well…next time you better reply!”.

      Good stuff.

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  2. surrey1

    Took a few attempts to have our stuff removed from Houser. Having just glanced this morning, some of my competitors are still, probably unknowingly, advertising stock sold nearly a year ago or no longer on their register or with asking prices since altered elsewhere.

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  3. smile please

    I as others are incredibly frustrated by the ASA

    But do people know how it is funded? – Basically by the advertisers.

    It is not a government enforcement team, hence why they have no teeth.

    Maybe instead of people banging on about regulating estate agents we can switch that to regulating advertising. Would sort a lot of problems.

    for clarity please look at the link  https://www.asa.org.uk/about-asa-and-cap/about-regulation/our-funding.html

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  4. PeeBee

    I remember the previous article to this for a number of reasons – but the one that stuck in my mind, and frankly sickened me was the post from one, fairly frequent, contributor, openly mocking the owners’ distress.

    Someone remind me – we, as Agents, are supposed to act honestly and diligently in the best interests of out clients, are we not?

    In Legal terms, we have a Duty of Care.  That duty is present in every case – but there are cases where we need to exercise more care.

    I wonder if that person would have been so flippant; so dismissive and clearly uncaring as to the feelings of frightened, elderly homeowners – so downright obnoxious – in their post had the owners of the property been his/her parents or grandparents – or people he/she cared for?

    In fact – scrub that – from those few words posted I would suggest it’s safe to doubt there’s any ‘caring’ there at all…

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  5. PeeBee

    On a lighter note, however…

    I’m frankly surprised that Mr Mirza has been so elusive.

    Not surprised, I add, with his avoidance of our lovely host, Frau Renshaw – he’s wise to run like a scalded cat from any attempt by Ros to publish the low-down on this unsavoury outfit…

    …but I would have thought that The Other Pub might have got a scoop – old Rocky-Boy being all chummy-wummy with EATs semi-resident Gob-On-A-Stick (credit: Jonnie), Mr Shinerock.

    After all – he was the bloke that crooned over Mirza – stating

    “A tech maths genius who is also an entrepreneur, a rare combination indeed and one which is, in my view, going to create the perfect storm for change in estate agency portal marketing…  After six hours with Rocky, throwing every conceivable objection I could think of at him, I don’t think any agents are going to want to come off this site.”

    You’d have thought that after giving such a gushing recommendation he could have got at least a couple of words outta the guy for Mr Norwood to build his article around, wouldn’t ya?

    But instead – he simply had to resort to cut’n’pastng the standard “attempted to contact (insert name), without success”.

    Thankfully, Frau Renshaw put more effort in – full stop.

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