A petition to Rightmove is calling on the portal to implement wide-ranging changes, including a ban on rogue agents and a filter to curb ‘fake’ listings.
The Home Buyers&Sellers petition has been placed on Change.org, which describes itself as the world’s largest petitions platform.
The petition claims: “We have found that for every genuine property sale advert on Rightmove there are five to eight speculative adverts. In other words, a genuine home seller will bear the advertising cost for another five to eight adverts which never materialise in a sale.
“We are using as example E12, one of the very few postcodes in London where houses sell for around £400,000.
“There is little sign of gentrification and in theory it should offer more affordable housing, at least by London standards.
“On 23 Sept there were 113 property listings with 41 estate agents, a combination of freehold houses and leasehold flats. In the first half of 2017, there were 16 properties sold each month, down from 26 sold last year. Only one in seven advertised properties will sell.
“Why are not the remaining six properties selling?
“Well, some properties are not for sale at all and others are speculatively put on the market at unjustifiable high prices. Estate agents commonly use these tricks – it makes them look busy, they collect buyers’ data and keep property prices inflated.
“In this particular area, freehold houses have sold at around £420,000. Out of 70 property listings, 45 had asking prices of £480,000-500,000.
“When we made inquiries, estate agents warned us that the vendors are looking to achieve close to the asking price but encouraged us to try our luck and view the properties anyway. We did just that and made several offers which were bluntly declined.
“Out of 21 properties listed with asking prices below £420,000, only six were available for viewing. According to the estate agents responsible for the listings, the properties either ‘just’ sold or had been taken off the market.”
The petition says that finding a home has become more of a ‘pain’ than a ‘happy’ – “and Rightmove are riding it”.
It demands that Rightmove should allow only properties which have a legal pack; should limit the advertising period to 30 days, and then automatically remove properties and block them for three months; and introduce a feedback tool where buyers and sellers can report on rogue agents and then block these firms from using the site. It is not known who has placed the petition.
A Rightmove spokesperson said: “We review all feedback that we receive from our customers and users, and we have a dedicated team looking after the listings on Rightmove to help provide users with the most relevant and up-to-date properties. A call for changes to legislation such as legal packs for buyers and time limits on marketing properties would be something to get in touch with the Government about.”
By yesterday afternoon, the petition had drawn just 11 supporters.