By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.


A third of property listings are 'fake' - claim

Around one-third of properties on the portals are ‘fake listings,’ it has been claimed.

Industry analyst Charlie Lamdin, founder of estate agency finder website BestAgent, has hit out at what he describes as fake listings on portals that then call into question the use of property price data.

It comes as BestAgent has been constantly scanning all available properties for sale and let across England and Wales to make sense of the market and provide guidance for buyers, sellers and agents.


Lamdin said: “It is so full of fake, duplicated, out-of-date property listings, not to mention the listings that aren’t even homes - garages, land, shops, mobile holiday homes. 

“We estimate that around one-third of all property being advertised has no right being there at all.

“This is no surprise. Agents have been ‘gaming’ the system to look bigger and busier than they are, and to attract mover leads on fake properties, to then try and show them their other properties.

“But the problem is, it makes the property price data releases from the big well known property websites, almost useless.”

He said he has tried to strip out all the property listings that aren’t homes, available to view now, for qualified movers, but said the data quality is bad, adding: “Every single property listing, real or fake, is unique. Each one is some sort of exception.

"They are all an exception, in some way shape or form. Everyone is trying to get one over, be one step ahead, pull a fast one, to get the deal they want. Buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants and agents alike.

“Homes aren’t in fact a commodity. They’re all unique, even in a street of identical terraced houses.

“This is one of the factors that makes interpreting property market price data so difficult, such an art form, so frustrating, so unreliable.”

Writing in a blog on his BestAgent website, he said this is one of the reasons why he believes automated instant valuation tools are “completely useless. Totally, completely useless.”

He said: “Even a seller’s reasons for moving are a factor in a property’s likely sale price – how can the algorithms price that in?
“They can’t.”

Lamdin also revealed that his data shows properties coming back on to the market in unusually large numbers but in some cases they are being re-listed with their asking prices now 5-10% higher.

He said agents have told him this is to offset the effects of downvaluations or below asking price offers, adding: “In 24 years working in this industry, this is a new one to me.

“It’s not because they don’t think prices are falling. They know prices are falling. They think that just by raising the asking price, they’re still going to get the price they actually want.”

He suggested a million anecdotes is the best summary of property market price data rather than any firm figures.

  • Paul Singleton

    Absolute tosh! Whilst I agree there will be some fake ads its certainly nowhere near a third. I would suspect its 1%-2% at best.

    Charlie Lamdin

    1-2% Paul? Now that really is absolute tosh! I actually study this national dataset every day, why would I make it up?
    I'm also aware of it from discussions with multiple different companies who deal in national house data. It's a nightmare for everyone!
    There isn't even any upside for me to do so. And I didn't seek this article, no press release was sent out.

  • Michael Day

    Industry analyst!

    I’m sorry Charlie but those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and with your contentious press release above I’m going to call you out.

    A quick search of your own BestAgent website using Uxbridge as a search location shows commercial property, park homes, properties listed as Westminster, Leicestershire, Berkshire, City of London. I could go on.

    I assume you are scraping the content from other sources as none of the listings meet legal and regulatory advertising requirements by displaying EPCs, showing material information etc.

    No agent names are displayed which is a good thing as any decent agent would be horrified by the way their listings (if genuine) are being displayed.

    Charlie Lamdin

    Always happy to be called out Mike, especially constructively, which you always do.

    1. No press release was sent out. Marc picked this up from a blog post I did on Wednesday evening (which he links to). I merely published the blog and tweeted it. I didn't expect any press from it (it's actually also been partially referred to in The Times 2)

    2. Yes, exactly! I don't know if you read my blog in full or not (if not please do as it provides context to this article) this is my whole point. We do use automation to gather all listings (this saves the insane software and data feed costs currently borne by agents feeding to other sites) hence the problem you outline is encountered, which we are a long way from solving. We are planning to solve it by allowing agents and registered movers to take 'bad' properties down, pending the listing agent's review. They will be able to repost them if they wish, if they confirm it is a genuine, available, home on which they are accepting viewings. A community-managed dataset if you like, with obvious safety measures in place.

    It will solve the time-wasting problem movers face on all other sites, of enquiring on misleading listings and either receiving no reply (40% by RMs own admission) or being registered despite that property not being available, then being spammed to death.

    So far we have not had any complaints about the way properties are being listed. This is a new approach to helping movers find homes and better agents, where for the first time, the site is designed around movers' priorities first, (and we are doing as much to eliminate time wasting movers as we are properties) and good agents second.

    We want agents who deserve more business to get it. We want to stop everyone's time being wasted.

    Solving this bad data problem, which is a deliberate policy by many agents, is a priority.

    One final point, by not showing agent brands, we remove the motive of appearing to have lots of listings, which causes so many agents to post and leave misleading properties. This will result in genuine listings getting more, better quality enquiries.

    There will be an option in future for agents to display their brands on the full property pages if they wish.

    I fully expected some jumping up and down and arm waving from some agents, but BestAgent is taking a whole new approach to this sector, with a determination to solve decades-old problems that disadvantage movers and honest agents alike.

  • icon

    why is this article even published?

    how come this publication has not sought evidence and published that too? if they had I am presuming the above comments would not be valid - but somehow, I believe the above comments.

  • icon

    I see some agents list the same instruction form multiple offices-so duplication is a very real issue but we forget its about selling houses and it may help more leads so -whats the issue really apart from if you manage success by market share or profit ??

  • icon

    Yeah just been on to bestagent to search for properties. It's basically theft!? You're scraping listings, displaying them poorly (low res images), displaying the door number, the call agent button doesn't work. Non compliant on EPCs, Non compliant with National Trading Standards. If you want to book a viewing you have to sign up to bestagent.

    In every dimension I can see you've made the experience for the mover worse, whilst you're claiming to be their saviour.

    All I see is a company trying to insert itself with the ultimate aim of extracting money from the process without bringing any value to the table. That's why you're making ridiculous claims about the proportion of fake listings because if it were true BestAgent would serve a purpose, but it isn't true and BestAgent doesn't.

  • icon

    Where I live, several properties are listed on Best Agent 2,3 & even 4 times - so in terms of Charlie's website, he is spot on. ;)

  • Michael Day

    For some reason can’t reply directly to Charlie’s detailed response.

    I obviously accept that EAT picked up on your blog and it was not as a result of a PR. That doesn’t alter the legitimacy of what is being shown, how it is being shown and the fairness of the commercial gain being sought by doing so.

    If agents or their photographic providers hold copyright over the images then that may open up other issues.

    In regards a lack of complaints, I doubt if many agents are actually aware that “their” listings are on the site.

    NTS would, I am sure, see the lack of material information being provided (including the lack of the agents name and contact details) as breaking consumer protection regulations where misleading omissions are one of the five firms of unfairness under the Act.

    Charlie, I have no issues with your vision and overriding values or seeking to commercialise or monetise these - I do however take issue with the methodology here that is being used to support them.

  • Stephen Lane

    There is a certain irony to this blog post, considering it’s source.

    Following this article, I headed over to BestAgent to see if my own listings were being used, and lo and behold they were, but more importantly, with out of date information, including withdrawn properties still showing.

    Oddly, every one of my listings has the wrong door number in it too.

    If you are going to criticise the industry as a whole about their accurate data, it would be an idea to get your own house in order.

  • Samantha Sullivan

    A few agents in our area SA1 to SA12 have withdrawn old listings and relisted as new on market. Very misleading stats indeed. I've also seen sstc properties withdrawn from the market so not even appearing as sstc, this is so when they fall through they are relisted as new on the market.

  • Nat Daniels

    Thanks Charlie.

    Love and respect you always.

    Just to pick up on your point of valuations tools being absolutely useless.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I own ValPal, MovePal (nurture) and EAT, this publication.

    The purpose of a valuation tool: It’s simply that it is a ‘lead magnet’.

    Yes, we have a complex algorithm sitting behind it, but of course we are playing to the home owners curiosity. Property prices are a national pastime and taking point.

    At the end of the process, we display a mid price and a lower price and a maximum price. It’s simply a guide for the seller.

    Lead magnet: in Marketing terms, as I’m sure you know, it’s simply to capture seller details, and pass them onto the estate agent, to offer a face-to-face, accurate and detailed valuation.

    125,000 sellers per MONTH (which is what we generate for our agents) can’t be wrong.

    As an ex-agent I would much rather have the opportunity to say to a potential vendor, that was a robot that did that valuation, now I need to come and see you and your property to give you a detailed valuation. I would much rather have that opportunity over my competitors.

    Our system continues to automatically nurture all leads till appraisal enabling agents to focus on the hot prospects.

    We will continue to create millions of valuations for our 4000 offices.

  • icon

    Heard of that. Absolutely agree


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up