The controversial website Houser, which made waves when it launched in 2014, has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to remove the listing of a property which had been withdrawn from the market by its owner in 2015.
Houser made headlines in the industry when it became clear it could automatically ‘scrape’ listings from individual agencies’ websites to create what could, in theory, be arguably the largest database of homes on sale of any portal. However objections from some agencies two years ago - fuelled by concern that listing on Houser may contravene OnTheMarket’s One Other Portal rule - led to large number of requests for properties to be removed.
Houser went on to take control of website Needaproperty.com and also opened an international site for homes on sale in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE.
However, it is back in the news as a result of the ASA ruling, revealed this morning.
The authority says details of a four bedroom home in Market Rasen, Lincolonshire, were seen on Houser in March this year.
This prompted Newton Fallowell Estate and Letting agents - which marketed the property originally - to complain to the ASA, claiming that the ad was misleading because the property had been removed from the market two years ago.
The ASA attempted to contact Houser, but there had been no response - failure to answer any enquiry by the authority was itself breaching an ASA code, compounding the issue.
The authority’s statement therefore goes on to say: “We reminded [Houser] 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 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.”
Estate Agent Today has attempted to contact Houser, without success.