Hybrid property portal Houser has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority after it ignored efforts by the watchdog to investigate a complaint about one of its listings.
Agent Newton Fallowell, which has over 30 branches across Lincolnshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, had complained to the ASA about a property listing on Houser that was for a house that had been sold two years ago.
The ASA said that potential buyers would have understood from the ad that the property was still on the market when it was not, and that therefore it was misleading under rule 3.1 of the CAP code.
But when contacted by the ASA, Houser did not respond to its enquiries, and the watchdog says it is “concerned by Houser’s lack of response apparent disregard for the Code”.
“We remind them of their responsibilities to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future,” the ASA says in its judgement.
Property hunting reinvented
Houser launched in January 2015 after buying the assets of failed property search engine NeedaProperty, describing itself as “the one you didn’t see coming” and that its service is “property hunting reinvented”.
The company offers agents free listings on its portal but also scrapes properties from agent websites.
On its website the company says “charging agents to list their properties is a thing of the past. All property portals in the UK want to charge real estate agents ever increasing fees for listings because these agents have no viable alternatives. Real search engines on the other hand, never charge for organic listings.”
But it’s not too surprising that the ASA struggled to contact anyone at Houser or that some of its listings are getting long in the tooth.
Two years down the line from launch and the Houser site is still in ‘beta’ or not yet fully launched – which is unusual at best – while its blog has not been updated since May 2015 while its Twitter account has been silent since April 2015.