Doorsteps, the online agency founded by teenager Akshay Ruparelia, has run into trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority.
The complainant was none other than the industry regulator, NTSEAT.
NTSEAT took issue with wording on the Doorsteps’ website.
This stated: “With Doorsteps you can sell your house for less than a hundred pounds, without leaving your home.
“An honest, transparent and hassle free way for you to sell your property, with a great level of service at a fantastic price.”
Small print stated: “Based on a direct comparison of like for like services, provided by the current average high street agent fee of 1.3% (inc VAT) compared to the current fixed fee charged by Doorsteps of £99 inc VAT.”
NTSEAT challenged whether the comparative claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
The complaint has been informally resolved, although almost identical wording was still appearing on the site this morning.
A spokesperson for the ASA said that Upside Capital trading as Doorsteps gave its assurance that it would amend the advert so that it stated any material differences between Doorsteps’ services or packages and those offered by “the average high street agent” that it was being compared with.
However, this morning on Doorsteps’ website’s home page, this wording could be seen after an asterix relating to the cost of using a high street agent, at £5,718: “Based on a direct comparison of like for like services, provided by the current average High street Agent fee of 1.2% (inc VAT) compared to the current fixed fee charged by Doorsteps of £99 inc VAT.”
Ruparelia, who set up Doorsteps in late 2016, claims to have sold his first house while still at school studying for A-levels.
He went on to raise over £500,000 via crowdfunding in 2017.
The latest Sunday Times Rich List names Ruparelia as being worth £16m. He is the youngest person named in the list, turning 20 last month.
His website says that it is the 14th largest estate agent in the UK.
Its packages cost £99, £199 and £599. Doorsteps claims that the average sale is agreed in 20 days, saving sellers £5,121 in fees. It also says that the average customer gets 99% of their asking price.
In April, Rightmove said it was reviewing Doorsteps’ membership, but did not give reasons.
However, it remains a member and yesterday had 1.388 available properties listed on the portal.
* Two other complaints involving property firms have also been informally resolved by the ASA.
Heylo Housing took out a paid-for Facebook post advertising homes for sale and featuring an image of two properties.
A complainant said one of the houses pictured was their own home, and the image had been used without their permission. Neither of the homes featured were for sale.
Heylo agreed to remove the pictures.
In the other case, a complainant objected to an advert for Collins & Wise Property Management on Zoopla, saying that the claim to be a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme was wrong.
The firm updated the advert to remove reference to TPO.