An online estate agent that said on its website “Sell your home for 0.5%” has had a complaint about the claim upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Pink & Cow estate agents, in Portsmouth, made the claim on its home page, which also said: “We’re in the perfect position to show buyers round your property” and “We’ll arrange high quality viewings and give you feedback at all times.”
However, a complainant said that the 0.5% commission did not include viewings and challenged whether the advert was misleading. With viewings included, the firm would charge more, at 0.75%.
Pink & Cow told the ASA that it offered a full online estate agency service for 0.5%.
It said that an online estate agent was very different to a high street agent and it did not think that the average consumer would assume that its service would include accompanied viewings.
Pink & Cow provided a copy of its Property Information Form which included a box to check if an accompanied viewing was necessary. The form stated that this would raise the level of commission to 0.75%.
The firm also provided a copy of the sales contract which stated: “Where a representative of the Agent is required to accompany the viewing of the property which leads to the sale the Commission Fee will be 0.75% of the final sale price upon exchange of contracts or £1,000, whichever is greater.”
Pink & Cow said that it did not market or advertise an accompanied viewing service because it was not part of the usual business practice.
If a customer requested an accompanied viewing service, this would be assessed on a case by case basis, and in general, Pink & Cow would attempt to deter customers from this course.
Pink & Cow said it accepted that the website stated: “We’re in the perfect position to show the right buyers around your property” but said that this was meant to read: “We’re in the perfect position to show the right buyers your property.”
However, the ASA upheld the complaint. It said that the Pink & Cow website gave the impression that it offered a combination of being both an online estate agent and a high street agent.
The ASA said: “In that context we considered the fact that the 0.5% fee did not include accompanied viewings was material information which should have been included in the ad. Because that information was not included we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The ASA told Pink & Cow to amend its website so that it was clear that the claim “Sell your home for 0.5%” did not include accompanied viewings.
According to Pink & Cow’s website yesterday, the agent offers sellers a choice of either £749 paid upfront, or 0.5% of the sales price on completion. Viewings cost extra, at either £200 more, or 0.25%.
According to Companies House, the business was set up in January.