Dozens of new flats on sale in Nine Elms have been listed, taken down and relisted by developers and agents in the area, sometimes as many as 15 times in six months.
This practice, known as “portal juggling”, potentially creates the illusion that there are more properties on the market than there actually are and can mislead consumers into thinking a property is freshly launched.
Property data firm Propcision has discovered evidence of this practice at schemes, including Battersea Reach, Vista and Riverlight – Berkeley Group developments – as well as Mount Anvil and A2 Dominion’s KeyBridge House and Ballymore’s Embassy Gardens.
In one instance, a £3.6m property in Cascade House, part of Berkeley’s Vista scheme, was listed 15 times between October and the end of March.
“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 in the area,” Propcision’s co-founder Michelle Ricci said.
The data, which was shared with City A.M. ahead of being released on Propcision’s blog today, also showed 35 properties marketed by estate agency Residential London were removed and relisted so frequently that it may have seemed as though there were 368 properties listed for sale instead of 35 in the same period.
“At first glance, repeatedly listing, removing, and re-listing a property seems innocuous. However… the statistical effect on housing market data, research, and marketing publications can be far-reaching. More importantly, it could have an effect on consumer perception of a healthy housing market in a given area and impact on their decision to buy in a particular area,” Ricci said.
She added that the pattern had not only been tracked in the Battersea area but also at Berkeley Group's 250 City Road in Islington.
Residential London and Mount Anvil were not available for comment. Berkeley Group declined to comment.
Chris Wood, a property consultant and former president elect of the National Association of Estate Agents, has been speaking out against portal juggling.
“It has reached the point now where it has become endemic and with some firms it has become a predictable pattern. It is quite clearly now at an industrial scale that it is misleading both the public and the consumer,” he said.
According to consumer protection regulations, which are monitored by industry watchdog, The Estate Agency Standards, agents must not engage in unfair commercial practices such as giving misleading information which may influence a transaction.
Rightmove’s head of marketing, Iain Kennedy, told City A.M it was aware of such issues and "enforces a strict policy for customers found to have inaccurate properties on the site.”
“Rightmove has a dedicated data quality team supported by automated reload detection technology, and does not tolerate customers found to be deliberately trying to upload inaccurate listings. We work hard ensure all our users are viewing accurate information about properties for sale or rent,” adding that its team handled over 8,000 complaints a year.