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Five property firms rapped by Advertising Standards Authority

Unprecedented number of agents and developers have ads referred to watchdog

Nigel Lewis

An unprecedented five property companies including three agents and two developers had their adverts referred to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) during the run-up to the New Year.

Advertising Standards AuthorityTV – Birch’s Group
London-based park homes developer used photographs of an old site in a TV ad to promote a new development, which the ASA considered ‘misleading’.

Birch’s Group, which has built and owns sites across the UK including in Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Somerset, used images and footage from one of its Cambridgeshire sites to illustrate its Little London Park development in the TV ad.

The company told the ASA that it ‘believed that the images and footage shown in the ad were an accurate representation of properties customers could purchase at their Little London Park site’.

The ASA disagreed, saying it considered TV viewers would interpret the ad to mean that the featured properties were available to purchase at the Little London Park site and that they were ready for viewing at the advertised open weekend event promoted within the ad. The ASA also noted that one of the properties featured in the ad was ‘vastly different’ to the property available at the open weekend event.

Advertising Standards AuthorityOnline – Whitegates
Agent Whitegates, which is part of the Martin & Co group, has also been cautioned by the ASA over its use of images, although this time only on an informal basis. A member of the public complained that its branch in Crewe had advertised a property on Rightmove using images of another house but after the ASA contacted Whitegates it removed the property immediately.

Advertising Standards AuthorityOnline – Bradleys
The ASA also received a complaint about Exmouth-based agent Bradleys over a claim on its home page that “land can only go up in value”. The complainant challenged whether this claim could be substantiated. After the ASA contacted Bradleys it gave a written assurance that the claim would be removed and similar claims not made in the future.

Advertising Standards AuthorityTV – TSPC Holdings
Scottish agent Tayside Solicitors Property Centre (TSPC Holdings) ran an ad on a local radio station in which a claim that it hits a “target of 90% of homes for sale in Dundee, Angus and North Fife… Remember only a TSPC Member Solicitor can offer you the reach of TSPC.co.uk” was made.

Rival Re/Max Real Estate Centre based in Dundee challenged this claim and, although TSPC was able to substantiate it, the ad was withdrawn because broadcast script clearance house Radiocentre confirmed that the script ‘had not been cleared’ prior to broadcast.

Advertising Standards AuthorityOnline – Cala Homes
The final complaint made to the ASA was more comedy than a breach of the ASA Code of Practice. A member of the public complained that Falkirk-based developer Cala Homes (East) Ltd had described the village of Mickleton in Gloucestershire as a town. The company said the mistake was down to ‘human error’.

January 4, 2017

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