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Real estate body must clarify guidelines for online property ads

While I welcome the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) initiative to launch an online guide on foreign property purchases, I also call on the organisation to review its guidelines for online advertisements.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

While I welcome the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) initiative to launch an online guide on foreign property purchases, I also call on the organisation to review its guidelines for online advertisements.

Traditionally, newspaper classified adverts have been the main platform for properties on sale. In this Internet age, though, many buyers rely on search engines to find out about the latest launches.

For example, Google AdWords, which are text adverts consisting of limited characters, is becoming a popular channel. It is regarded as the online equivalent of classified adverts. Unfortunately, the CEA’s guidelines lack clarity pertaining to AdWords.

The CEA says the salesperson’s name, registration number and contact number, as well as the estate agent’s name and licence number, must be stated in all adverts, including online, with the exception of classified adverts.

But there are countless variations of online adverts. The term “online advertising” is too broad. It would help if the CEA could clarify the following: Does online advertising include AdWords?

If so, is it reasonable to insist on the aforementioned details of the salesperson and estate agent in an advert limited to a 25-character headline and two 35-character text lines? If the CEA requires so much information in a short-text advert, would this not penalise salespersons and estate agents with long names?

In classified adverts, the registration and licence numbers and the estate agent’s name are not required. Logically, should not the same considerations be applied to AdWords?

A quick Google search would reveal numerous AdWords results that omit the required information. There are two possibilities: Either the salespersons are unaware of the guidelines or the CEA’s requirements are too vague. The CEA should keep up with technology.

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