Claims on the website www.webuyanyhouse.co.uk included "Economic or time constraints can often lead homeowners to seek out companies that buy houses for cash. We Buy Any House should not be compared with an Estate Agent because we buy properties direct from the seller, so avoiding expensive Estate Agency fees. We offer a free service and legal representation. The offer we present is the amount you will receive on completion without deductions. We will typically pay up to 90% of the market value for a house, depending on the property type, its condition and location".
The complainant, who understood the service operated similarly to an estate agency, challenged whether the ad misleadingly represented its nature.
Eclectic Financial Solutions Ltd t/a We Buy Any House said their service differed from a traditional estate agency because of the value of the offer made to the vendor, the speed at which a transaction took place and there were fewer costs involved. They would usually expect to complete a sale within six to eight weeks and that speed attracted vendors to services such as theirs. Their properties appealed to investors who were interested in purchasing houses at a discount and were able to 'complete' within their desired timeframe. We Buy Any House said it was clear in their advertising material that investors might wish to view a house before purchasing it and consumers were also made aware of that when signing up. If potential investors were unable to view a property, it was possible they would move onto another in their desire to complete a transaction quickly. They said the vast majority of their customers were able to sell their property within the relevant timeframe and therefore save on the costs associated with selling through a traditional estate agency.
The ASA noted the website included various claims such as "OUR TEAM OF EXPERTS CAN HELP WITH Empty Property Financial difficulties or money problems Repossession Downsizing Relationship breakdown Long term health conditions Tenanted property Probate cases", "we guarantee to help find the right solution and if the right solution is a quick house sale, we will make the sale as easy and stress free as it can be", "we buy any house in any condition throughout the UK … We buy houses no matter what the reason for a sale and speed up the process to allow our customers to take control and move on with their own lives. We guarantee a smooth and trouble-free quick property sale", "If you are one of the many people we deal with who require a quick house sale then rest assured we can offer you this facility", "you can even choose the date you wish to vacate the property and we will work around that", "We Buy Any House Fast for Cash" and "Hassle Free House Sale in 3 simple steps 1 Get a no obligation cash offer for your home now! 2 Say 'Yes' and we will visit your property and finalise the sale 3 The cash is in your bank account in typically 28 days or less!", as well as the claims outlined above.
We considered the overall impression of the ad, in conjunction with the company name, We Buy Any House, suggested elements of the traditional estate agency process, such as the property being advertised or viewings from potential buyers, would not be necessary before the purchase was complete, because the advertiser would purchase property directly from consumers who desired a fast and convenient sale. We understood that We Buy Any House did not generally purchase properties directly from consumers and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told We Buy Any House to ensure their future advertising did not misleadingly represent the nature of the service.