Why are house builders and their agents still deliberately mislead buyers

New homes – all sugar and spice and all things nice?   That’s what the house builders would have you believe.  Slugs and snails and snagging list tales would be closer to the truth!  

Included with last weekends Mail on Sunday was a property paper called ‘The Location’ described as – “44 pages of property inspiration.”   Within it’s covers were some of the most outrageous superlatives I have ever seen used by house builders and their selling agents to describe not only the new homes being advertised, but also the location of the developments.

 Builder ads 1

Not once were the adjectives used to describe the homes and developments backed up with any tangible statement of explanation.  Here is another translation of what the builders say and what it really means

Of the homes they were described as:

“Bespoke”  Implying that they are being built to a buyer’s own specific requirements rather than in all probability, a one-off design forced by the planning process.

“Contemporary”  This just means “of the same age; present-day” yet it is frequently used to imply state-of-the-art features, designs or specifications.

“Exclusive”  This commonly used to imply the development or properties are one of kind – hardly the case with most new homes.

“Uncompromised quality”  Really?  How is this substantiated?  So there we have it, this development does not “compromise” on quality, implying or more usefully, confirming that others do.  

“Exceptional homes”  Quite a claim but…….. given the blandness, low specification, poor quality and small size of the majority of UK new homes it is not much of a stretch to be deemed “exceptional” even if it is being said by the builders themselves.

“High Quality” and “Quality homes”   Quality is a “degree of excellence” the inference being that low quality is a low degree of excellence which sounds much better than average or ordinary. The “quality” claims made by house builders are hardly ever backed up by any fact such as an NHBC Quality Award or buyer’s testimonials.

“Stylish”   Again quite a claim when it comes to new homes! One person’s “style” is another’s worst nightmare. There are no fashion shows in house building.

“Stunning” collection.   Stunning, really?   Are they serious?  The only thing that is likely to stun are the high prices and low quality homes with small rooms and tiny windows.

“Prestigious range”  

“Luxurious specifications” “Luxury”  Both could be used to describe the no expense spared multi-million pound apartment or flat in London or house in Sandbanks, but hardly a £240,000  new home “box” in Southampton or Worthing!

“Superb” In other words, “splendid, grand and impressive.”  Again quite a claim and who is so impressed?

“Exciting” designs/development etc.    A sports event is exciting.   White-knuckle rides are exciting.   Doing something dangerous could be exciting. Buying a new home exciting?  There is nothing exciting about a new UK home in 2014.  Perhaps the excitement is the lottery of whether it will be finished on time or the almost inevitable defects and poor quality.  Long gone are the days when you couldn’t wait to see the next room of the show house.  The only reason now would be because the room is too claustrophobic!

“Exacting” standards, attention to detail.  Surely this is what should be expected, not a selling feature?  Even so, no doubt the new homes built with “attention to detail” have  out of level sockets and out of vertical walls etc.

“Surprisingly high specification – including integrated kitchen and turfed gardens”….Linden Homes – Not the usual low specification they normally sell then!   Linden are  “surprised” their specification was high!

“Finished to an exceptionally high standard” Compared to what?  Who says it is “exceptional”?Roffey Homes Claims

“Gleaming collection”…..Roffey Homes.  Roffey take the top prize for most use of superlatives and with their outrageous claim that Worthing is “just one hour from London” Really? According to the Southern Railway timetable, Worthing to London Bridge takes 1 hour 28 minutes and to London Victoria 1hour 22 minutes – 36% longer than claimed!  Perhaps Roffey hope that potential buyers will be so blinded by the “gleaming collection” they won’t see this blatantly incorrect and misleading statement. 

“What some builder call Extras…we call Standard.  Each Bovis Home comes with a wide range of features at no extra cost – saving you thousands of pounds!”….Bovis Homes.

Whilst it depends on the type, size and location of the homes built,  Bovis Homes’ average selling price is 7% higher than the average selling price of both Persimmon and Miller Homes and 1% more expensive than Bellway’s average selling price. Extras as standard but not necessarily “saving you thousands of pounds”

The Locations were equally overstated

The descriptions of locations and the alleged views from the developments were described in the advertisements as:        “Glorious * Idyllic * Beautiful landscapes * Picturesque * Stunning surroundings * Breathtaking countryside and views * Most desirable location”       Who says?    If it was that “desirable, stunning or breathtaking”  they wouldn’t need to advertise!    

Remember we are talking Shoreham-by-Sea, Worthing, Bognor Regis and Southampton. Indeed, Southampton Water with views of Fawley oil refinery, ferries and docks is hardly The Maldives or the Lake District is it?   

It was intended that first the Property Misdescriptions Act 1992 and now the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008  and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 would have put an end to misleading statements, ambiguity and downright lies in property particulars.  Sadly, on this evidence house builders and their agents are saying exactly whatever they want to get that sale, deliberately misleading potential buyers at every opportunity and they are getting away with it as it is clear the regulations are not being enforced. 

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