New software has been devised which can allow users to identify individual properties that have been ‘portal juggled’ - de-listed and re-listed in a bid to appear ‘new to the market’ in the eyes of prospective purchasers.
The software is being offered free of charge to the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and to the three official industry redress system - The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services, and the Property Redress Scheme.
Campaigning estate agent Chris Wood, who runs PDQ Property in Cornwall and who has been a leading opponent of portal juggling for over 18 months - and who as been one of a number of agents working on the software since mid-2015 - has given a demonstration of it to Estate Agent Today.
The demonstration allowed EAT to select its own agencies, properties and areas on which to test the software's potential.
Amongst its other functions the software can identify the total number of de-listed and re-listed properties by any one particular estate agency, including the dates and times when the de-listing and re-listing takes place.
It can also identify the individual properties, their portal ID numbers and the property address and postcode - and the agent’s reference.
Variables can be set to create thresholds when de-listing and re-listing have occurred and to create management information based on these thresholds.
So, for example, if an agency de-listed and re-listed, say, only two properties in three months these would not trigger an alert; however, if an agency de-listed and re-listed scores of properties overnight, suggesting an automated process, then this pattern of behaviour could be identified and would trigger an alert.
“This could provide detailed information to NTSEAT or the redress schemes, and/or it could provide a management report to the MD of an agency” says Wood.
The three major portals - Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket - have condemned portal juggling and say they have their own reload detection systems and compliance teams to identify such gaming of their content.
Last week Rightmove announced it was extending from two weeks to 14 weeks the period in which previously-listed homes for sale cannot be re-listed as ‘new’ to the market.
Wood says the software cost “several thousands of pounds and 18 months” to reach this stage.