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ASA investigating complaints about online agents' VAT

The managing director of Hatched online agency is accusing Purplebricks, eMoov, Tepilo and House Network of advertising their rates exclusive of VAT contrary to the Committee of Advertising Practice’s guidance to include the tax.

Adam Day is now calling for all online estate agents to take heed of the CAP guidance. He says that despite the guidance, and advice circulated by The Property Ombudsman, many agents are still ignoring the call to include VAT in advertised rates. 

Now Day has written to the Advertising Standards Authority highlighting the issue and those flouting the ruling. In response, Day says he has been told by the ASA that its compliance team is now investigating the matter.


“We’ve included VAT in our prices for over 18 months now, ahead of any rulings being passed. We did this in order to be completely transparent and fair to our customers. After all, they can’t claim the VAT back, so the price they see is the price they should pay” says Day. 

He accuses those agents deciding not to include VAT within their prices of doing a disservice to potential customers by misleading them with a more attractive headline price, only for the customer to be hit with another £100 charge.

“When I started Hatched, it was always my intention to create a new type of estate agency that was as transparent as possible. I know that my peers within the sector are also striving for complete transparency, coupled with the ultimate customer experience” he says

“But I’m afraid they are letting the customer down on this. If ‘online estate agents’ as a sector wish to change estate agency for the better, then we all need to be raising the bar, and this includes when quoting transparent fees inclusive of VAT.”

He says he regrets being obliged to involve the ASA “as I thought, having made the first move 18 months ago, others would follow.”

Yesterday we carried a story about a high street agency complaining to the ASA about online agent EweMove - not about its VAT, but about its claims to be a 24 hour service.

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    • R M
    • 19 May 2015 11:19 AM

    There is no need for this story which smacks of the old Adam from Autmn 2013; Please miss the big boys are being mean, they are not playing fair!
    Adam you appear to be making the transition from passive intermediary into a viable estate agency, you had started to earn some respect having come away from this sort of have a go, troll publicity. Just do the best job you can, do it well and do it honestly and you will naturally rise above the competition at the internet listing only end of the industry.

  • Rob  Davies

    I agree. Does come across as a bit petty.

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    I totally agree with Adam
    Why should there be one rule for some and one for others.
    The ASA regulations say that agents must advertise charges to include VAT - it certainly doesnt say that agents can choose when to apply this rule.
    As usual some big agents (usually the corporates) will continue to try and gain a commercial advantage.
    The ASA has a lot to answer for here - toothless tiger springs to mind

  • Fake Agent

    @Paul Sheard - yep, does seem a bit hypocritical of the bigger online agents to have one rule for them, another rule for everyone else. That's the very thing they criticise traditional agents for.

    On the other hand, it does also smack of Adam being a bit precious and throwing his toys out of the pram a wee bit. If he really believes in his business, he'll make it. Having a moan only comes off as a bit petty, even if he does have justifiable reasons for moaning.


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