Portal Juggling

August, 2022


Buying a new property can be a challenge, and you don't want to be tricked into believing a property is newly listed when it isn't.

Among the challenges facing buyers and tenants is portal juggling, which we explore here.

What is portal juggling?
Poor estate agents use portal juggling to delist properties and relist them a week or two later, making them appear as if they're brand new listings.

A property may be taken off the market for many legitimate reasons before being relisted, such as during the busy Christmas season. Taking properties off the market and then placing them back on quickly raises alarm bells and raises concerns about portal juggling.

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Why is portal juggling so ‘bad?’
The purpose of portal juggling is to mislead buyers and give the impression that a property is new to the market when in fact it has been listed for a very long time. In addition, it can limit the buyer's ability to negotiate a lower price when buying a home, since the property may seem to have only been on the market for a short period of time.

Agents are prohibited from misdescribing a property's condition or status to prospective buyers or tenants, as they are making important decisions when it comes to purchasing a new home. This includes the length of time the property has been listed for sale or rent, making it an offence under the Consumer Protection Regulations Act.

Portal juggling is an illegal act that could result in prosecution, according to the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team. Taking and re-listing a property can falsely inflate sales statistics, and some estate agents have been appearing to have 10 times as many listings as they actually do. Aside from falsely advertising the property, it can also lead to skewed asking prices in certain areas.

Due to the illegal and dishonest nature of the scam, such deceit constitutes an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

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How do you spot a ‘juggled’ property?
It can be quite difficult to spot a juggled property unless you're constantly watching property portals for similar listings. Estate agents are increasingly using dedicated software to identify properties that are being juggled by searching portals for similar or duplicate listings.

In order to combat portal juggling, Rightmove has implemented a new policy. After a property is removed from Rightmove, it cannot be re-listed as new within 14 weeks instead of the previous two weeks. Using improved technology to identify relisted properties, the change is intended to ensure that buyers see accurate property listings.

In addition to estate agents and platforms like Rightmove and Zoopla doing their utmost to reduce portal juggling, you can also follow these steps as a buyer or seller:

  • Check a portal's listing history
  • Watch property email alerts to see how often the same property appears
  • Ask estate agents about a property's marketing history

Portal juggling: what are the consequences?
A disciplinary panel of the Ombudsman may investigate portal juggling, and estate agents may also be prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2008 for making false representations about property listings.

According to NTSEAT team leader James Munro, "estate agents who are involved in portal juggling may be breaking the law, which could lead to enforcement action from local Trading Standards authorities."
If you spot a property which you believe to have been ‘juggled’ you can report it to the property portal in which it is listed, most portals will have guides in their ‘Help’ section.

Our ethos is client first. Since our inception our goal has been to look after clients rather than just their properties and to tailor our service to meet our clients needs. We want to change the public perception of Estate Agents by highlighting poor practices and demonstrating a higher level of customer service which has been lacking within the industry. 

Contact us today for an honest approach to estate agency 01603 577255

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