Since we started doing content moderation for classified sites, we have handled real estate listings. In that time, we have encountered almost every issue the category faces. We keep a close eye on how the challenges develop and are ready to provide solutions when new issues surface.
Below we have collected a list of the 5 biggest issues we see in real estate listings.
Current problems within real estate listing
1. Scams and frauds
People looking for a place to live can be desperate and are easy targets for scammers.
One of the most common scams on real estate sites is asking for a deposit without viewing the apartment. Often the scammer will apply urgency by explaining that others have viewed the apartment and that the only way to secure it now will be to hand out the deposit.
Since getting a good apartment is often very hard, especially in the bigger cities, some people may fall for this and send the money. The scammer collects the fee, and the would-be tenant never hears another word from them. Most likely, the apartment never existed or didn’t belong to the scammer.
2. Circumventing paid features by posting in the wrong categories
Since real estate is a lucrative business, many websites earn a good part of their revenue from these listings. They charge for ads posted in the category or charging for buyer/seller communication.
A rule of thumb here at Besedo is that someone will attempt to circumvent the cost if a website charges for a feature. That holds in this case as well. We see many people posting their ads in the wrong category to avoid the fee, and we see people adding their contact details to the ad allowing readers to contact them for free outside of the site.
3. Incorrect data
Some advertisers may not be completely honest with the data they enter in their adverts. Often, the price has been presented as unclear, or the location has been exaggerated.
Advertisers may write a weekly price rather than a monthly one to make the deal seem more attractive. And despite an apartment being 30 minutes outside London, it might still be listed under “London apartments” for better visibility and to attract tenants.
4. Duplicate pictures or ads
Users may post their ads multiple times to stay on top of the lists, resulting in duplicates. This is not good for the user experience and could harm SEO.
A duplicate picture could also be a sign that the apartment in the ad is not genuine. Suppose someone has used a stock photo or stolen the picture from another listing. In that case, it is a good idea to be on high alert when reviewing the ad, as it is highly suspicious that the advertiser cannot provide a picture of the place they are selling or renting out.
5. Referral or contact detail schemes
Some advertisers will, on purpose, list houses already listed by real brokers to get a referral fee. Other times you will see people posting properties that aren’t even real to collect contact details of potential tenants/buyers that they can then sell off either to real estate agencies as leads or to scammers that abuse the information.
The more grey zone version of this practice is when agencies post first-class properties at a great price that always ends up sold just before the potential tenant/buyer gets in touch. This way, the agency collects details of interested parties, and they can present similar properties at a slightly higher cost.
Some issues faced by the real estate category are more severe than others, but they have one thing in common. They all impact the user experience negatively. The first step to combat these challenges is understanding which is present on your site and how they manifest themselves. The next step, of course, is to decide how to deal with them.
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