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Ad watchdog upholds ‘misleading marketing’ complaint against GetAgent

GetAgent has been ordered to make its marketing claims clearer following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The advertising watchdog revealed today that it has upheld a complaint from RE/MAX Property that queried GetAgent’s marketing.

The complaint focused on the brand’s homepage on 21 June 2023, which said it can help “find the best estate agent for you” and that recommendations are impartial and “agents don’t pay to appear.”


RE/MAX raised issues with this and the search results after inputting an address, highlighting that the first three listings included information such as the average sale time, the asking price change, the fee quote and the services the agency offered. 

Underneath each listing, a green box stated “Request Free Valuation.”

But this box wasn’t available alongside the bottom three listings and there was no data on fees or services.

RE/MAX Property asked if the top three search results on the shortlisted agents page were “obviously identifiable as marketing communications” and if claims of “impartial recommendations” and “agents don’t pay to appear” were misleading and could be substantiated.

In defence, GetAgent said its system recommended six estate agents near to where the property was being sold, regardless of if they were registered with the website, and that these recommendations were based on factors, including the average time it took to sell a property and the percentage of the asking price received.

It said the shortlist was comprised of a mix of estate agents who were signed up with GetAgent and estate agents who were not, highlighting that the default view is in alphabetical order and whether GetAgent was able to facilitate the homeowner’s valuation request. 

The order was not indicative of performance and banners were used to highlight top performers in their respective categories such as “most experienced,” GetAgent said.

In cases where an agent was not registered with GetAgent, the “request a valuation” button was not present because they were not able to make the introduction, the website said.
Due to the data available, GetAgent said, each shortlist would differ and that, in certain cases, no registered estate agents would appear.

But the ASA concluded: “We understood that the listings of agents who were signed up with GetAgent would appear with the ‘Request Free Valuation’ button and that, as default, the shortlist was ordered according to whether GetAgent were able to facilitate the homeowner’s valuation request; namely, whether they were signed up to the service. 

“Therefore, agents who were signed up to GetAgent were listed in alphabetical order, followed by those not signed up to the service and featured less information than the other agents.”

Estate agents registered with GetAgent are required to pay a fee based on the final selling price of the property for every successful referral arranged by GetAgent, the ASA said.

Because GetAgent received a fee in those cases, the watchdog said it considered the listings in the ad for those agents registered with GetAgent were marketing communications. 
The ASA said this therefore breached the advertising code as it was not clear to consumers that GetAgent receives a fee.

Additionally, because GetAgent only allowed consumers to directly contact those agents who had paid a fee, and only published a full data set for those agents, the ASA said the search listings in the ad did not represent “impartial recommendations” and that phrase along with “agents don’t pay to appear” is misleading and could not be substantiated.

The ASA said: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told GetAgent to ensure that their future ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and that the commercial intent was made clear. We also told them to not to claim that they offered impartial recommendations or that agents did not pay to appear if that was not the case.”

 Commenting on the complaint, Colby Short, chief executive of GetAgent, said: "GetAgent welcomes the ASA's help in ensuring we further improve the transparency of our service and we are actively working to refine our messaging for better alignment with users expectations.

“We pride ourselves on offering a comprehensive, unbiased view of estate agent performance based on objective metrics. We appreciate the ASA's acknowledgment that GetAgent showcases the best-performing agents on our shortlist, regardless of whether they work with us or not.

“Our commitment to objectivity has resulted in delivering over 150,000 referrals to more than 7,500 agents this year. We value the ASA’s guidance on how we can continue assisting undecided vendors in finding the best estate agents."


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