What is sales board counting?

The estate agent market is highly competitive and it is common for ads to include claims such as “Market Leaders”, “Leading Estate Agent”, “Premier” or “Top Selling Agent”. As with other sectors, objective superiority claims need to be substantiated and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) generally considers “leading” or “Number 1” claims to relate to sales or market share.

In some instances, marketers wish to base their sales numbers on the number of “For Sale” or “Sold” boards that appear outside properties under the care of the named estate agent.

Why would board counting be a problem in establishing sales figures?

Because not every estate agent is guaranteed to put a board outside a property and because boards can potentially be placed by some agents when that property is not “For Sale” or “Sold” with that agent, potential for discrepancies arise between the number of boards an agent has placed and the number of properties an agent has sold or has on its books. The ASA has therefore concluded that counting board presence is not an adequate method of substantiating comparative claims about property sales (Cooper Estates Harborough Ltd, 25 Jan 2006).

When can board counting be referenced?

Straight forward claims which compare the number of “For Sale” boards between estate agents may be acceptable but the ASA is likely to expect marketers to be able to demonstrate that the data they hold is both accurate and verifiable. If ads do make claims about sales board numbers, the ASA is likely to expect those ads to make clear that the number of boards do not necessarily equate to completed sales (Ashtons Estate Agents, 3 September 2008).

Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)

Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA.

CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.

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