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Property websites may be giving a false impression of how active a particular housing market is by relisting the same homes over and over, according to property analysts Propcision.
When it noticed that the Nine Elms Area — a large development near Battersea Power Station in London — was particularly active against general market trends in the vicinity, Propcision examined the data more closely and found that many of the same properties were being removed and relisted.
This practice gives a distorted impression to online home buyers, as the properties appear to be new on the market and don't convey any price gains or drops from their original listings.
It can also mislead buyers into thinking an area is particularly active or "up and coming" if it seems a lot of new properties are suddenly on sale.
"From the snapshot of data we analysed," it said, "there was one marketing agency which listed 35 new-build properties for sale during a 6-8 month period."
"However, on closer inspection of this data, there seems to be a pattern of listing, removing, and relisting properties. The pattern occurs so frequently that it may have seemed as though there were 368 properties listed for sale instead of 35 during the same period," it added.
From just two snapshots of data, the report concluded that "one might think that there was £600 million ($863 million) of housing stock moving in the market in this area when, in reality, the data suggests a market value closer to £70 million ($100 million)."
Propcision stressed that the removal and readditions of old properties were down to estate agents rather than the property sites themselves, which are merely "portals."
As well as misleading buyers, such distortions make researching the state of the property market difficult, as each time a home is listed for sale it is counted by some analysts as a unique property.
Over a long period this could wrongly suggest an oversupply of homes, deflating prices.
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