Portal juggling: This is how one website deals with the problem

The practice of re-loading property listings as though they are new is, as reported by EYE this week, under investigation by Rightmove.

A spokesperson for the portal said that the practice is not tolerated “and if there is found to be no legitimate reason for a property coming back on the market this is escalated in line with our process, and dealt with accordingly”.

We were interested to read on Property Portal Watch that gaming the system – by which agents can make it look as though they are taking on more listings than they actually are, or using re-loading to claim that they are selling properties at a high proportion of the asking price – is not confined to the UK.

An Australian portal dealt with the problem comprehensively some years ago.

Property Portal Watch, which is based in Australia and picked up EYE’s story, says: “realestate.com.au addressed this issue in the early 2000s by requiring an agent to have an address on each listing and then not allowing that listing to be reloaded (once removed) as a new listing unless it had been off the site for over two weeks.

“If was it was re-listed within the two weeks, the original listing date was retained.”

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19 Comments

  1. PeeBee

    Well… that would go SOME way to bu99er up the perpetrators.

    What needs to be questioned is WHY are they doing it.

    Answers, on a postcard, please…

    …let’s see how many we get!

    ;o)

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    1. Robert May

      Sorry Peebee the screen shot evidence fills a DVD there is no way to get the answer on a postcard!

      Would you accept the reasons without the  evidence file?

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    2. Mouseketeer

      Maybe they could route out the hundreds (if not thousands) of agents advertising on their portal who haven’t signed up to a redress scheme at the same time?

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  2. Robert May

    The sad news for the UK is that a  (presumed) junior within the data investigations team appears to have closed down  and resolved the issues of portal juggling  for one agent despite there being  at the last totting up  over 100 instances this week.

    I have to say as the quartermaster providing some of the tools and systems that identify what  in my book can only be described as of very grave concern, I am staggered that 6 months after this was identified there are attempts to dismiss all juggling as technical upload glitches, administrative errors or staff oversights.

    What concerns me most is how, if technical issues are the cause of  portal juggling,  it is morally justifiable to claim  “properties sold within XX weeks” or “achieving a  given % of asking price” when both the listing date or asking price have been advantageously affected by a technical fault (The technical faults are only ever  advantageous)

    There are 3  identifiable  levels of juggle from bumping (to get the portals to send out new listing notifications again, and again and again and again 7x is the best-worst found so far) through to escalated levels of seriousness (which have been recommended  for escalation to NTSEAT)

    All that said Well done Australia! I guess it is only to be expected they tend to have a very forthright way of dealing with most troubles.

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  3. Peter

    Looking at an example page on the Aussie site, I note there is no listing date.

    As I commented a couple of days ago, I do believe juggling will reduce if rightmove simply remove when the property was first listed.

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    1. PeeBee

      Peter

      You are correct – there is no listing ‘date’ – however there are six ‘Sort by:’ options available which includes ‘Date (Newest / Oldest)’

      There is therefore some mileage in certain Agents considering ‘bumping’ a property to move it up that particular ladder – although I know only a small percentage of site users actually stray from the ‘Most Relevant’ default (or in RM’s case, ‘Highest Price’ )

       

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  4. Property Paddy

    When a property was first listed can also skew a potential buyers attitude to a particular property. Not all houses sell within hours of being listed in some cases it can take several months (London estate agents don’t know how lucky they are) even if it is correctly priced. I get cheesed off with buyers telling me the house been up for sale for 2 months so why hasn’t any one bought it already.

    Secondly it seems if an agent trading in two different registered locations sticks all their instructions on from one location and then a month later sticks them all on from a second registered location RM shows them all as new listings despite the two registered locations are 100 miles apart but the properties are the same.

     

     

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  5. Robert May

    The agents most actively juggling  are not doing so for performance statistics or bumping  grumpy vendors up ‘the listed on’ ordered reports they are doing so as a replacement for not having a meaningful applicant register.

    An agent attempting to cover  3500 activity centres with less than 3500 branches or activity centre reps  can not operate a register of applicants and so use juggling to send out time and time again the same properties to the portal audience; effectively reducing the portals’ notification systems from a worthwhile service to a spam system of junk mail.

    The more serious levels of juggling won’t be stopped by portals removing the ‘listed on’  date even with it removed it will provide evidence enough to hoodwink ASA in claims of misleading advertising or performance claim.

    The only solution is to show the original listing date (even if it is in 2011!) with the marketing history noted openly or available on a tab.

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    1. Peter

      “The only solution is to show the original listing date (even if it is in 2011!) with the marketing history noted openly or available on a tab.”

      How does this help the marketing of a property?

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      1. Chri Wood

        I would argue that it will, when policed properly, reduce agents deliberately over-valuing (an unlawful practice that is also banned by TPOmb) or, taking on properties they know to be wildly over-valued by the owners.

        Owners do not like to be up for sale for long periods, nor do they like to be deceived by the agent who is supposed to be acting in their best interest and has a legal obligation to do so.

        At a given time-point in the buyers perception, the time-on-market flag informs customers that the price is wrong, the agent is ineffective, there is a problem with the owners motivation or, a combination of the above. The end result is inevitable and most good agents reading this know it.

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      2. RealAgent

        I also have to agree with Chris on this one Peter as well. You can debate whether the date that a property comes on to the market should be on a portal but you can’t debate the fact that as an agent your duty is to disclose the fact when asked in any case.

        Seeing on a website however does indeed have a detrimental effect on the sale of a property if it is available for some time and in fact, as Chris has also eluded to, we use it all the time, with printed examples of subsequent reductions that also normally follow, to show sellers, why not to fall for the trick some agents use of over valuing to win an instruction.

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        1. PeeBee

          RA – you state

          “…you can’t debate the fact that as an agent your duty is to disclose the fact when asked in any case.”

          Yeah – absolutely.

          It is, however, what they say in response to that question that determines which side of the line etched in stone that the Agent actually stands…

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      3. Robert May

        It allows vendors to chose an agent that isn’t manipulating their statistics and performance, agents that are valuing correctly and offering professional advice.

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        1. Peter

          Chris/Real/Robert, I do understand where you are all coming from and have liked your post, but if a vendor/landlord wants to test the market to allow for that subjective element that is inherent in value, showing the listing date will clearly influence a would be purchase/tenant and therefore potentially negate the benefit of such a test price.

          Also, consider a house coming onto the market in October, does not sell/let, but the new year, with its new market, brings renewed interest; there is a real risk that a buyer’s/tenant’s offer will be influenced by the time it has been on the market. Yes, now is the time to use one’s negotiating skills, but it still provides what they will see as a valid argument to support their stance. I wonder how many agents advised their clients to withdraw the property from the market pre Christmas and to re-introduce in the new year; would agents feel this is an acceptable marketing ploy.

           

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          1. RealAgent

            Peter, you are not wrong and it does depend on your market. Ours is one of low stock levels and so competitiveness from other agents is our biggest issue so the system right now suits us I suppose.

            I do feel however that this is one of the primary reasons not to be too beholden to portals though, I remember when we were with Zoopla and actually lost a sale and several others where it took some buyer convincing, because their market value was lower than we had achieved.

            I suppose what I am saying is that the portals have a different interest to our own so exact more information published not less so start thinking about whether there is any market advantage you can make from it in your patch.

             

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          2. Robert May

            What is this test the market business, are they selling or not, if they are a properly marketed property will be  unaffected by any need to juggle.

            You might have missed the previous story, this juggling isn’t the occasional property being bumped, price adjusted or re-listed because a sale has fallen through. This is about systematic   de-listing and re-listing  of multiple properties at a time for no other reason than getting  a notification alert sent out to applicants.

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          3. Chri Wood

            The market has changed and ‘testing the market’ is still a factor in case law as I understand it. However, that it still is and that this information is now publicly available and, must be disclosed honestly if not (or face a potential criminal conviction) means that agents must now factor this in when advising customers initially on the effects and potential risks of trialling a higher ‘kite’ price.

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  6. Clarkuk

    just today I have just found the same property advertised with the same agent twice

    one loaded on 19/12/2014 £89,950 up for sale. The other is sold STC at £85,000 loaded on 11/11/2015.

    Seems pretty clear that RM have no intention of stopping this practice.

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  7. Robert May

    The tally of properties juggled by 1 firm in a 9 day period is over 5% of their register.

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