Agent Chris Wood has taken his campaign about alleged ‘portal juggling’ to the industry regulator.
Wood, of Cornish agents PDQ Estates, has now been in both telephone and email communication with the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
This followed the initial receipt by Wood of an automated email (see above story).
An investigator from NTSEAT has now asked Wood for a summary of the allegations.
Wood has told the investigator that there is a “substantial and significant body of evidence” indicating that some agents are “deliberately falsifying listings on the two main property portals”.
Wood also claimed: “The lack of enforcement . . . is allowing consumers to be misled, law-abiding businesses to be disadvantaged to lose business and [is] making a mockery of the laws of this land into the process.”
Rightmove has announced that it is conducting an inquiry into so-called ‘portal juggling’.
A group of agents has united via Twitter to exchange their concerns.
Wood told EYE at the weekend that he is expressly concerned that agents who falsify their listings are distorting their market share at the expense of those agents who play by the rules.
Meanwhile, Wood has withdrawn his threat to stop paying Rightmove his monthly subscriptions after being warned that withholding payment would breach the terms and conditions of membership.
Wood had earlier alleged that Rightmove itself was breaching its own terms and conditions in relation to data quality.
Wood has told Rightmove that failure to pay this month’s subscription could have meant his own customers perceiving a loss of service, and hence “I would be in breach of contract with them”.
Wood has also told the portal: “I am sure that Rightmove would wish to distance itself from any of its customers breaking the law so flagrantly and would also wish to be seen to be taking a firm stand.”
In answer, Rightmove’s commercial director of agency Jason Bushby told Wood in an email: “We do take direct action with agents but we do not disclose this as discussed and we apply filters to catch various listing issues that result in us stopping them appearing on Rightmove as in the example of the 88,000 sold properties I mentioned.
“This only removes them from Rightmove so they continue to be advertised in all the other places they are uploaded to, be it other portals and the agent’s own sites as examples.
“We do not control this, so as an industry issue that is like papering over the cracks and avoiding the wider problem.
“We need to do our part though and review our data quality processes to keep on top of it.”