Research by data company Propcision claims that portal juggling - the listing and re-listing of the same properties - risks inflating prices and giving consumers a false impression of market activity when in fact transactions are slow.
“When Battersea Power Station and the Nine Elms area in London were seemingly very active, in general terms, against observed market trends for the area, we decided to look more closely at the data surrounding this activity” says Propcision founder Michelle Ricci.
“By carefully marrying-up data for the exact apartment number within each development in the Battersea regeneration area over time, we found data which suggests that there is an active estate agent and a home builder who have been listing, removing and then ‘immediately’ re-listing properties” she says.
“The data suggests that this listing and immediate relisting of properties has been done with such frequency across a range of different properties that it might have distorted the market activity in this area.”
She says that one agency listed 35 new-build properties for sale during a six to eight month period - although on closer inspection this was in fact so-called portal juggling.
“The pattern occurs so frequently that it may have seemed as though there were 368 properties listed for sale instead of 35 during the same period. Instead of there being roughly £50m in market value of apartments advertised, it may have appeared in some statistics as over £500m in market value” claims Ricci.
In one example, she alleges a £3.6m property was re-listed 15 times over a six month period. “This may have led to the belief that there were 15 properties each with an asking price of £3.6m, thereby potentially inflating the average asking price of the area and potentially giving a false impression of market activity.”
Ricci says this pattern was not limited to just the Battersea Regeneration Area but also occured in a new development in Islington.
She says she did try to contact the developers and agent involved but had not received a reply.
Propcision handles only London property data, so it is not known if this problem exists elsewhere.
Rightmove and Zoopla both say they are aware of the practice and take measures to try to prevent it.
It’s a fascinating piece of research and you can see it in full here.