An estate agency in the north of England has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about a rival firm’s claims saying it took on more properties than other local agents, and sold them faster.
The ASA says correspondence to a member of the public from Blackberry Estates Ltd - a family run business based in Jarrow - contained the statements ‘We take on more new properties than most other agents in our area’ and ‘And we sell them faster!’, followed by comparative figures for Blackberry Estates and other agents in the area.
Further text also described the silver, gold and platinum selling packages, priced at "1100 + VAT"; "1400 + VAT" and "2000 + VAT" respectively.
Andrew Craig Ltd, another agency in the area, made a complaint based on three issues.
The first was whether the comparative claims could be substantiated and whether they were misleading because they did not specify a timescale or geographical area.
The second was whether the claims could be verified, and the third was whether the VAT-exclusive pricing was misleading.
After being contacted by the ASA, Blackberry Estates confirmed it had made changes to its advertising and would continue to review it and take advice from the authority to ensure it conformed with the appropriate advertising codes.
This included reviewing the evidence for the ‘more properties’ and ‘sell them faster’ claims and amending the ads to make it clear what the claims were based on and the timescale - they were based on Rightmove data. The firm also amended the prices to include VAT.
On that basis the ASA declared the case informally resolved with no further action to be taken.