30 Jan 2017
A property portal aimed at UK agents but run from Italy and which claimed to be powered by Zoopla has lost what looks like most of its advertising – advertising which many agents were probably unaware of.
Many pages on the portal https://www.housesinsale.co.uk/ can now no longer be found after Zoopla removed access to its listings.
It is thought that many agents will not have known that their properties were listed on the site, which listed many of them as having features such as wine cellars and ocean views – highly unlikely in many cases.
The site came to our attention only because of a number of attempts to promote it in posts to stories on EYE.
While these were quickly removed, we were mystified that the IP addresses all came from Italy.
A phone number given on the site, simply delivered a recorded message saying that the person we wanted was unavailable.
However, we have now made contact with Mihai Luci, who told us that the site has been built as an advertising service for estate agents, landlords, property owners, and others with properties they wanted to advertise for sale or rent.
He said that at the moment the site is free to list: “This site is a personal project, I want to see if I can rank high in Google for high competition keywords. Also I want to offer a free alternative (or low cost in the future) for property listing.”
He said he has already achieved pages 1 and 2 on Google for some keywords, including “Rightmove alternatives”, “Zoopla alternatives”, “Estate agents today”, and “Property portal UK”.
He said he had chosen the Houses in Sale domain name for SEO reasons and because “Houses for Sale” was already taken.
He was unaware that the name of his portal made it sound as though it were only listing properties in a town in Greater Manchester.
He added: “My site is not powered by Zoopla, but publishing some Zoopla properties [means] I must include the ‘powered by Zoopla’ logo.”
A spokesperson for Zoopla told us: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We immediately removed access to our listings API as they do not comply with our criteria.
“Our compliance team are dealing with this issue to ensure our logo and members’ listings are removed from this site.”
We also asked one agent – Andrews – if they were aware that their properties were listed on the site.
Nick Moir, head of marketing at Andrews Property Group, said: “Finding property details, which can sometimes be out of date, unknowingly listed on sites such as Houses in Sale, is something that all agents experience and it’s a frustrating situation for us all.
“Simply, there are websites out there which operate purely through the repurposing of content from elsewhere.
“Essentially it’s stealing this content, but given it’s already in the public domain there’s very little, aside from installing numerous technical fixes or employing legal warnings, that can be done to prevent it. The last thing any of us want is to spend all day every day trawling Google to find out if this is taking place and who is responsible.
“Nonetheless, it’s our belief that the majority of people searching for properties will continue to interact either with one of the major portals or direct with their local agent. As such, the potentially inaccurate information conveyed on other sites should have little overall impact.”
* As this has evoked memories of Houser, we thought we would revisit that site.
We looked for properties in our nearest village (Hartley Wintney, in Hampshire) – and Houser did not disappoint.
Up came a list of properties for sale in Englefield Green, Surrey, about 20 miles away.
Other listings were far more accurate, in that the properties were in the places searched for, but agents may like to check for their own properties – some of the listings we found looked well out of date.
The Houser site also shows a number of logos, including The Guardian and, surprisingly, Property Industry Eye, which links to a story we did two years ago when Houser was being touted (although not by us) as the next big thing.
Below, recent screengrabs from Houses in Sale show that some of the properties were also listed on Rightmove
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