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  • Property-a-holics

    Why do agents advertise properties that are not for sale/to let?

    Strange as it may seem, I've come across quite a few situations recently where agents are advertising properties that actually are not for sale/to let. This seems to occur most frequently on the main property portals. Explanations I have been given for this include:
    - we forgot to update the system
    - the property has just been sold/let
    - the owner/landlord has changed his mind
    - we are no longer instructed
    - Sorry, that one has gone but don't worry, I have 6 other similar properties in my drawer!
    I would have thought that it was not a very constructive use of time for an agent to handle enquiries for properties which are not for sale/to let. After all, its no success, no fee.
    Normally, on sites like RightMove there is a green flag in the corner of the photo saying 'under offer' etc but its not always the case
    However, are they trying to give the impression they have more properties on their books than is actually the case, are they trying to stay one step ahead of the competition, is it a genuine error or do they only update their systems twice a week?
    Can anyone enlighten me?
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    Hi Adrian
    I can tell you that there is never any excuse for a website to be more than 24 hours out of date as agents upload, and can upload daily - the portals upload overnight as the feeds come in.
    For an agent to be listed in an area, they need to have a property there, so an agent trying to get into another area may have only one instruction, but way after that is let may keep it there to attract Landlords / Buyers in the area.
    Additionally to attract tenants, an agent typically needs property in all price ranges, so keeping out of date stock on there may serve that purpose.
    These are explanations on my experience, I don't practise or endorse this!! I do however mark Let properties as such and leave them on the site, to demonstrate that I am letting and doing business in an area. A consumer using Find a property can choose to select a filter that does not show let properties. A prospective Landlord doing research may want to see what agents are clearly doing well in an area and want to see this.
    Once a property is "off the market" ie let / sold through someone else or withdrawn it should be taken off the sites as this is simply misleading.
    Often a property is let by another agent in the cases of multiple agency, but the LL will want it on the market until contracts are signed, hence under offer properties being left as available by other agents.
    In the current market, where there is a shortage of tenants, having a wider range of property an agent may hope to capture every tenant enquiry. Its my opinion that this is self defeating to the industry as the more stock on the market, the more tenants think they have a choice and the more it drives prices down.
    I do not knowingly go on multi agency where there are more than 3 agents as I think it defeats the object of trying to get a good rental - it makes the LL look desperate and just fills the portals.
    Hope that offers some enlightenment!
    Sally
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    I am wondering if it is a little bit of all the above. In my experience as a lettings agent, Rightmove backend updates are relatively simple to monitor and keep on top of. If a letting agent is using Rightmove and also their own property database on their own site, things can become unweildy and harder to keep updated, especially if the software is a bit fiddly. This would lead to the 'forgot to update the system' scenario. I have seen agents take the 'property search' function off of their own website and simply insert a page link to their property adverts on rightmove to cut down on time taken to update two websites.
    On the other hand I have recently come across a completely befuddling practice from a very large lettings organisation advertising the same property for staggeringly different rent pcm values on Rightmove. What this 'message' hopes to achieve is bizarre.
    Back to the original question, it would be simpler to operate just one advertising system but since so many agents use Rightmove, this opens up the question of being compelled to subscribe to a large organisation who sets the software parameters (e.g max number of pics and texts you can use).
    As for possible gains or not from deliberately misleading information about properties, I wonder if its an area where the agent should not stray too far into. I say this because it takes a lot of energy to perpetuate deliberately false information and in that cannot be an economic or constructive use of time.
    Would love to hear what other people think.
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    HI Adrian
    The general objective of an agent should be to save as much time as possible this means as you rightly pointed out if they did not update daily/weekly this would not be very constructive to them or to any landlord whom has the property on market with them as the time spent on the landlords property that is actually on the market would be less....
    but you know as well as i do properties to let at the right price and condition go fairly quickly so if it has just let there comments are understandable! (same really for sale)....
    some letting agents wait until all references are back or in a sales case exchanged - you could call this being cautious ....either way I do not agree with that process but I would say that most of the time what the agents are saying to you is most likely true.
    another reason:
    another point to bear in mind is that some agents leave property on market for another couple of weeks to bring in more tenants and then find the right property for them they use it in all walks of sales and friend of mine has a recruitment agency and they advertise ghost jobs then use it to bring in canidates and then they sell the canidates to job roles which caters for both clients (seeker of employment and employee).... some would call it being proactive! (Alexander Mann years ago did it and many companies do it now).

    As you know I have a small letting agency and my own portfolio and I have seen very big agency use this method above over the years I feel that my time is better spent looking after my clients that I have.....word of mouth is the biggest marketing tool we have and tenants as well as Landlords can work out very quickly the good from the bad these days.
    In my experience tenants will come if you have the right property at the right price and your fees are not way over the top and you treat them with the up most importance so there is no need to use the tactic we have discussed
    Like anything in this world nothing is one way some agents maybe being dishonest but their are some great agents out there that get the job done fast!
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    Thank you all for your replies. The fog has lifted a bit for me!
    I think the RightMove practice of using a let agreed triangle is a good one. As Sally says, landlords can see which agents are doing business in the area and it gives some idea of comparables for landlords, tenants and even valuers if its on or around the asking rent.
    If a tenant has parted with cash and paid the holding deposit, they will usually want to know it is off market while they go through referencing. I can understand some agents leaving it on until the tenancy is signed as that is the point at which the deal is struck from a legal perspective
    Perhaps the easiest answer is for agents to update their update their systems at the close of business every day
    What prompted me more than anything to write my post was a recent situation where a landlord advertised his property for let through a reputable agent. The prospective tenant offered the full rental, paid his holding deposit and reference fee and his references were cleared. The landlord then changed his mind and said he wasn't letting the property.
    A week later, the agent put the property back on the market for let!
    In this case, the landlord was advertising his property both for sale and to let and probably didn't want to let it anyway. This may be more prevalent with increasing numbers of reluctant landlords.
    I'm sure a good agent will quickly suss out who is serious and who isn't when they take an instruction
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    Lets not be candid. I have recently had the.......pleasure is not a word I can relate to, of being joint agent with Foxtons. The property appeared PCM and PW at one price and PCM and PW at 2 other prices!!
    Arrgh this company bring to ill repute the industry.
    Adrian - the case you mention in your follow up is interesting. I let a property today to a couple who had even paid the initial monies, but not "exhanaged TAs" and the "accidental" Landlord pulled out as an offer for sale had come through. I was gutted for the tenants and waived all fees to them (even though it was not my problem!!)
    I think there is a degree of truth in the replies - I know for sure that websites are updated on a 24hr turnaound if not sooner. The property I let today I had a 2 week rent free period attached and uploaded at 11am - it was let on this basis by 4pm as the phone did not stop from mid day. Some would say a proactive agent would liase with their clients and get these offers, get them live and work to LET oppose to leave properties and speculate.....
    Ho Hum!
    Sx
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    Hi
    I think i remember a "watchdog" type program that showed that agents would leave boards up as its FREE advertising. Also if there were a number of agents on a development other non site agents would put up their boards as well...once again FREE advertising.
    If my aging memory serves me well there was a Big agent in London who was one of the culprits. They would just put up a board for the hell of it...even if the prop was being marketed by someone else.
    Regards
    Wasim
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