Feb 20, 2018

In short, it’s a method used by estate agents to take a property off the market and then relist it on the market a few weeks or months later, to make it look like a brand new property listing.

Now you may be wondering why do that, well besides the fact that it’s labeled a scam – there are many genuine reasons for taking a property off the market before re-listing it again, such as quiet periods over Christmas. However, it is when properties are taken off the market and then put back on again over such short periods or during normal periods that alarm bells start ringing and portal juggling becomes evident.

Why is portal juggling so bad?

It’s been labeled a scam because it misinforms the buyers and gives them the impression that the property has only recently come onto the market when in fact it could have been on and off for the past year. It can limit the buyers potential to negotiate a lower price because it seems so new to the market. Under the Consumer Protection Regulations Act it has become an offence for agents to misdescribe the condition or status of a property, this also stretches to the amount of time it has been on the market, and as it’s the biggest purchase a buyer will make in their lifetime it is very important they are fed the correct and accurate knowledge and facts.

Portal Juggling has now been confirmed as an illegal act by The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and could lead to prosecution if found guilty. It has been a method that has been long adopted by many estate agents to give the impression that they have 10 times more property listings than they actually have on the market. This shrewd method can also falsely inflate sales statistics.

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team confirmed that portal juggling is an illegal act and one that could lead to prosecution. Removing and re-listing a property can falsely inflate sales statistics, and some estate agents have been giving the impression that they have 10 times more property listings than they actually have on the market. This is not only falsely advertising the property, but it can also mean that in certain areas, asking prices for property can become skewed.

As a result, this type of deceit constitutes as an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

How do you spot a juggled property?

It can be quite difficult to spot a property subject to portal juggling unless you’re constantly watching property listings.

Rightmove has come up with a new policy to help combat the issue of portal juggling. Now, instead of the previous two-week period, a sales property that has previously been listed on Rightmove cannot be re-listed as new within 14 weeks of it being removed. The change is to ensure that buyers are seeing accurate property listings, with improved technology that can identify relisted properties more accurately.

Whilst estate agents and platforms such as Rightmove and Zoopla are doing all that they can to reduce portal juggling, there are a few things you can do as a buyer or seller:

•    Review the listing history on a portal
•    Keep an eye on property email alerts to see how often the same property is popping up
•    Ask estate agents about the marketing history of a property

What are the consequences of portal juggling?

Those who disregard the severity of portal juggling may be subject to review by the Ombudsman’s disciplinary panels, and false representations of property listings that have been made by estate agents, could also fall under the Fraud Act 2008.