The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team has over the weekend repeated its intention to investigate allegations of so-called portal juggling - the deliberate de-listing and re-listing of properties on major portals.
In a letter to a group of agents monitoring the problem, passed to Estate Agent Today by one of the agents, NTSEAT team leader James Munro confirmed earlier reports that “we are investigating the claims that are being made around portal juggling.” Last week we reported that a Conservative MP is going to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
The allegations are well-documented through past research by Cornish estate agent Chris Wood who runs PDQ Estates in Helston, and other agents he has been working with on this issue, and more recently by data company Propcision which made specific allegations on its blog about portal-juggling in areas of London.
The portal themselves continue to suggest that the issue is relatively low-level.
Rightmove has repeatedly said it has processes in place to identify ‘gaming’ of this kind and has a policy of contacting agents believed to have re-listed properties in a bid to see if there is justification for the action.
"We have encountered a very small number of situations where agents attempted to re-list their properties on the site. Our internal procedures enabled us quickly to identify those issues and to rectify them. Any apparent examples of gaming identified by our internal procedures or flagged externally by other agents will always be thoroughly investigated” says Ian Springett, chief executive of OnTheMarket.
Zoopla spokesperson Lawrence Hall insists “this is not a widespread issue and the overwhelming majority of agents do not engage in these practices” but says that “where any agent deliberately attempts to circumvent these processes and manipulate their listings to mislead consumers, we have a dedicated compliance team whose job it is to identify these rogue agents and remove them permanently from our platform.”