Objections from the boss of New Zealand's largest real estate agency prompted the Advertising Standards Authority to take the unusual step of rehearing a complaint.

Hayden Duncan, Harcourts chief executive, objected to the decision against www.whatpricemyhouse.co.nz which offers free valuation services and was found by the authority to deceive or mislead the consumer.

Although a Harcourts agent offered to visit when a homeowner used the website, Duncan said his chain did not own that site so the authority's decision contained wrong claims against Harcourts.

Instead, a Harcourts agent subscribed to the website, he said, which resulted in that firm being involved, but it was wrong of the complainant to say Harcourts owned the site.


"The complaint had no relation to Harcourts. A Harcourts office received a lead from the offending company's website - which Harcourts does not own or operate - as many other agencies do throughout Australasia. At no stage has a complaint been laid against, or been defended by a member of the Harcourts Group relating to the matter," he said.

Hilary Souter, authority chief executive, said Duncan's complaint was valid.

"The board was dealing with incomplete information," she said.

"We didn't understand how that website worked. I'm happy to put our hand up and say an error was made in not inviting comment from Harcourts."