Mysterious property portal Houser has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for listing a property that was taken off the market two years ago.
However, last night, EYE could still see the same property listed on Houser, via agents Newton Fallowell. Although a ‘flash’ note said the property was no longer available, photos and floorplans still flagged up the distinctive property.
The elderly owners had previously expressed horror at their home still being visible online after a burglary last year.
The property, in Lincolnshire, was originally put on the market with agents Newton Fallowell but did not sell and was withdrawn.
The owners were subsequently shocked to discover that, without their knowledge or consent, their home was listed on Houser as late as March this year, according to the complaint.
Newton Fallowell challenged whether the ad was misleading because the property had been removed from the market two years ago.
The elusive Houser did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA said it was concerned by Houser’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, and ruled that they had breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule (1.7 (Unreasonable delay).
The ASA’s ruling reads: “We reminded them 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 ASA ruled: “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. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.”
Houser launched in early 2015, taking agents’ listings without their knowledge and putting many in danger of inadvertently breaching OnTheMarket’s ‘one other portal’ rule. OnTheMarket was also launching at much the same time.
Houser still appears to be listing agents’ properties, but they may not be up to date and, like the property at the centre of the ASA ruling, are likely to be no longer on the market.
In EYE’s home town of Fleet, Hampshire, yesterday, we found the newest listings (by Prospect – do they know?) were added on January 20 this year.
However, we also found listings dating back to December 2014, with nothing to suggest these properties have been sold or withdrawn.
In London, the newest listing (VEL Estate) was added to the Houser site on June 9.
Yesterday, we did try to get in contact with Houser founder Rocky Mirza but, like the ASA, had no success.
The link below goes back to EYE’s original story about the property concerned in the new ASA case, and also gives links to help agents check whether their properties are being listed on Houser: