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Estate agents accused of ‘juggling’ properties on online portals

Some UK property agencies are under fire for repeatedly relisting unsold homes on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, in an effort to improve their reputation and hide information from potential buyers.

The rise of property portals on the internet has been a blessing and a curse for many estate agents. Smaller agencies have been able to reach a larger number of potential UK homebuyers, but are often lost in the crowd compared with their larger counterparts, who process many more properties a month.

In times past, it wasn’t always clear how long a house had been on the market without checking with the agent, reducing the chance of a buyer factoring that information into their final decision. With property portals such as Rightmove, however, it has always been clear to those browsing how long a property had been listed – with those listed for an unusually long time raising a red flag in the minds of the buyer.

But recent findings by Propcision, a property data firm, have revealed that many estate agents are exploiting a loophole that allows them to relist a house multiple times in order to hide how long it has been for sale.

This underhanded practice is known by UK property experts as ‘juggling’. It prevents transparency during a sale and also allows estate agents to appear more successful in processing and selling homes that they actually are – helping them to woo potential clients looking for a fast house sale.

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Examples cited by Propcision include a £3.65m penthouse in North London, which has been relisted two to three times a month for over nine months. Another estate agent allegedly relisted 35 properties a total of 368 times to encourage sales over an eight month period.

The practice also has further reaching consequences including the overstating of activity levels within the property market, affecting statistics collected for government analysis as well as the regulating bodies within the industry. As a result, an investigation has been launched by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team in an effort to curb the behaviour, with the possibility of fines and even incarceration for those found to be offending repeatedly. Safeguards have also been set in place by the portals themselves.

“Rightmove has a dedicated data quality team supported by automated reload detection technology, and does not tolerate customers found to be deliberately trying to upload inaccurate listings,” said a spokesman for the portal. “We work hard ensure all our users are viewing accurate information about properties for sale or rent.”

Of course, there are alternatives to estate agents, such property buying companies, who deal directly with the seller and offer cash for any home. For some people this is a much simpler route.

Looking to speed up the sale of your house? Why not ask National Homebuyers for advice, as we buy any house. Call 08000 443 911 or request a call back to find out how much you could get for your property

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