An agent has said he was on the brink of losing a valuable instruction because of Rightmove’s new 14-week rule.
The vendor of a fallen-through property saw the rule as disadvantaging her chances of a successful sale, and she came close to disinstructing the agent.
The anti-portal juggling rule is designed to stop the de-listing and re-listing of properties to make them look like new instructions.
However, Winkworth franchisee Sean Amner was critical when Rightmove refused to reset the listing date, despite his pleas, after a sale fell through nearly three months after going under offer.
With the vendor anxious for the property to look new to the market, she was about to disinstruct Winkworth in order go with a different agent – for no other reason than that they could list it with a fresh date and have the property sent through as a new alert.
The property in question was originally listed with one of Amner’s Winkworth offices in Surrey on November 3.
It went under offer on November 16. But on January 27 the sale collapsed, changing the property’s status back to For Sale.
However, the initial date of listing, November 3, continued to be shown.
Amner immediately objected, telling Rightmove that the property “now represents a new prospective purchase for any would-be buyers, and as such, it should be reflected in its listing date.
“The fact that it’s showing as being listed since November 3 suggests it’s an undesirable property that isn’t receiving any interest.
“This is simply not the case and will no doubt have a negative effect on the property’s perception and, theoretically, the price it is likely to achieve – why pay the asking price for something that nobody else wants?
“This particular vendor has called us to insist that the date is changed as she’s concerned about the adverse effect the original listing date will create.
“We’ve explained this can’t be done so she is now looking to disinstruct us and list with a new agent, as she realises that by doing so it will appear on Rightmove as a new instruction.”
Amner said: “This new rule is adversely affecting Rightmove’s ability to help sellers achieve their maximum selling price whilst simultaneously resulting in agents potentially losing instructions they would have otherwise kept.
“No doubt in time, once agents cotton on to this, they will be touting fallen-through properties to highlight the need for a vendor to change agent if they want their listing date reset.
“This will obviously put their original preferred agent at a huge disadvantage.
“It also begs the question that why should a property that has fallen through be regarded as a new listing simply because it has changed agent? Why is this any different to it being re-available via the original agent?”
Amner said it should be possible to list fall-throughs as ‘new’ within a week of a failed sale – not 14 weeks.
However, yesterday Amner was told that fall-throughs will not be re-listed as new on Rightmove. He called for the portal to reconsider.
He told EYE: “Rightmove feel that a property is only ever new to the market once, at the time of listing.
“In my view, a property should be classed as newly available when it is newly available to buy. As such, when a sale has fallen through it comes back to the market as ‘For Sale’ and presents buyers with a new opportunity to purchase the property from that point.
“Surely this is when it should be classed as ‘new’?
“They have also confirmed that the listing date will be reset if the property changes agent, which is completely contradictory. Either the property is newly available to the market or it isn’t, regardless of which agent is marketing the property.
“It seems that the changes are here to stay and we have to just accept it. My account manager has said that, to date, she has had a few agents raise this point, but seeing as it only came into force in December, the issue wouldn’t really haven’t surfaced much at this point in time.
“As more agents become aware of it and take it up with Rightmove, I would hope they will agree to reconsider.
“Another point to note is that Zoopla aren’t doing this. So, if this becomes the major problem I predict it will, a number of OTM agents may actually decide to swap their one other portal to Zoopla.”
The property in question is still with Amner’s agency as it is the subject of another offer currently being negotiated.
“However, this does not alter the fact that the vendor was about to disinstruct us and use another firm, purely as a work-around to the listing date issue,” said Amner.
Yesterday, Amner was told by his Rightmove account manager that he was still in a “in a much better position of selling the vendors property as it stands as you have already got the photographs and marketing finalised and approved.
“Because this property has also benefited from going out on the alerts when it was first listed you can use your database to go back to the original buyers who enquired on the property putting you one step ahead of another agent. Consumers will still recognise the property from when it was first listed if it does go on with another agent so due to you already having potential buyers puts you in a much better place to sell this property than an entirely new agent.”
To this, Amner replied that “with respect”, he did not need a lesson in how to keep instructions following a fall-through.
Yesterday evening, Rightmove told EYE: “Currently any property that changes status within 14 weeks will not go out in email alerts and will retain the original listed date. This update was made after extensive discussions with the industry.
“We will be listening to feedback from Rightmove agents and regularly reviewing how listings are displayed on Rightmove to ensure we are providing the most accurate data for agents, buyers and sellers.”