Trading Standards has advised agents to update listings once they reach the "sold subject to contract" (SSTC) stage.
It comes after legal property expert David Smith suggested yesterday that keeping SSTC properties listed on portals could breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) as it risks misleading consumers.
James Munro, senior manager of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Teams, has waded into the debate.
He told Estate Agent Today: “A property remains for sale and open to offers until exchange of contracts - unless the seller agrees, or has previously agreed, that the marketing should cease and the property be withdrawn from sale.
"Agents are under a duty to continue passing on offers until they have instructions in writing from the seller to the contrary.
"In an ideal world the agent should update the listing when a property goes to SSTC and instructions are received from their client to state that no further offers are being accepted on the property.
“Being open and transparent about the process is essential for agents to maintain the trust of their clients and customers.
"A failure to update property listings can lead to frustration on both sides, wastes time through unnecessary enquiries, and can put agents at risk of ombudsman complaints or enforcement action.”
National Trading Standards has published guidance on the use of terms in property listings that you can download from its website.
Smith warned yesterday that the practice of leaving SSTC properties on portals could go against regulations that warn against misleading actions and those that distort consumer behaviour.
He says: “Advertising a property as being available but then telling callers that they cannot view it because it is SSTC is a classic example of bait and switch.
“I hope that this is not something that is happening. The CPRs are created for a reason and are abused by some of the very worst traders in the property sector and the marketplace generally.
"This is the nicer end of the some of the appalling scams perpetrated during lockdown where tenants were told they had to pay holding deposits before viewing properties which turned out to be total fakes. They are legally-speaking on the same continuum and, morally-speaking, not so very far removed either.”