Watchdog Bans Agent`s Ad Which Used Vizzihome Market Data

Date Published 07 June 2013

An estate agent which used VizziHome data to claim in a radio advert that it sold more homes than other local agents has been told not to make the same claim again.

VizziHome, which supplies market intelligence to over 5,000 agents, including information on their market share, was acquired last week by Zoopla.

The Advertising Standards Authority, in a case which will resonate with many agents, said that the VizziHome data did not provide enough proof.

In the case, Green & Company, in Staffordshire, ran a radio advert where a voice-over said: `Green & Co sell more properties in our area than any other estate agent. Don’t believe us, ask our customers.`

Another voice-over stated: `I have dealt with many estate agents in Sutton Coldfield and none of them can remotely compare with the service given by Green & Co.`

A competitor, Paul Carr Estate Agents, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority. The firm challenged whether the claim `Green & Co sell more properties in our area than any other estate agent` was misleading and could be substantiated, because they believed it was based on unreliable data.

Green & Co told the ASA that Smooth Radio had written the advert, having seen evidence from VizziHome that showed they had agreed more house sales than any other local agent.

Green & Co said they believed some estate agents had been involved in producing doctored certificates, which were not authorised by VizziHome. However, they had only ever used genuine certificates in the press and on their website. They submitted the VizziHome data that had been provided to Smooth Radio as well as a more recent VizziHome certificate.

Smooth Radio said the advert was written by them based on a brief from Green & Co and with the intention of broadcasting it in the East Midlands. They were sent three VizziHome reports which they understood would provide independent substantiation for the claim. The station considered it appropriate to use the proposed script in good faith, given that the information submitted to them was accurate and legitimately sourced from a recognised trade body.

They understood from their research that VizziHome data had not previously been disputed when used correctly in other broadcast advertising. They believed the content of the advert was reasonable, properly substantiated and compliant.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint.

It said the the claim `Green & Co sell more properties in our area than any other estate agent` was likely to be interpreted as suggesting they had sold more properties than other agents in the entire area in which they operated. The VizziHome data referred to specific postcodes, and was based on information posted online by agents.

VizziHome also stated: `Due to variations in publishing policies or where such information is believed to be inaccurate or otherwise manipulated, not all agents and property data may be represented.`

In addition, properties were classed as sold if they were subject to contract or under offer. VizziHome’s own guidance said: `The number of properties registered as sold does not necessarily equate to completed sales.`

The ASA concluded: `For those reasons, we considered the data was not adequate to substantiate the claim and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.`

The advert has now been banned, and Green & Co have been told they must not claim they sold the most properties in future in the absence of adequate evidence.