The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team has followed up the recent announcement by The Property Ombudsman to counteract portal juggling by calling upon the public and the industry to report any future cases of the practice.
“We welcome The Property Ombudsman’s update to its Code of Practice, which will require members to comply with new guidance around how agents use online property search websites. The change in guidelines means its members – which includes the vast majority of practicing estate agents – will be obliged to comply with the new rules” said James Munro, team leader of the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team in a statement yesterday evening.
“The practice of ‘portal juggling’ has seen some agents deliberately mislead potential homebuyers by removing and relisting properties to make them appear new on the market or using the practice to manipulate sales figures.
“Breaches of the new guidance could lead to a ruling by the Ombudsman and also referrals to enforcement agencies – including the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and local trading standards authorities. Such referrals could lead to prohibition orders or prosecution” he continued.
He said NTSEAT would work closely with The Property Ombudsman and other redress schemes “to stop this unfair and misleading practice” which he said “misleads prospective homebuyers and harms honest estate agents who conduct their business in a fair and professional manner.”
Munro concluded his statement by appealling to the public and other agents: “If you suspect an estate agent of portal juggling or spot anything suspicious on a major online portal, we urge you to report it to Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.”