Estate agency businesses are being reminded to ensure that their advertising claims are accurate and truthful.
The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team issued the warning this afternoon following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which recently upheld a complaint about Purplebricks.
James Munro, head of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, said: “We have seen many examples of online agents making unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims about their selling fees when compared to traditional or high street agents.
“These businesses should ensure that they are making comparisons against like-for-like services.
“It is wrong to make general claims about savings when the headline price does not include facilities such as a sales board, floor plans, photographs, accompanied viewings, sales progression or other facilities which are normally included with traditional high street firms.
“We recognise that online-only agents have a role in the marketplace for customers who wish to do more of the work themselves but they need to remember that they are subject to the same legal requirements as any other estate agency business.
“Firms advertising estate agency services for a fixed fee of a couple of hundred pounds or less need to consider whether they are little more than portal listing services and should therefore be very careful when making comparative claims in their advertising.
“They also need to make clear the difference between an upfront non-refundable fee and a commission which is payable on completion.”