At Besedo we have handled real estate listings since we started out doing moderation for classifieds sites. In that time we have encountered almost every issue the category faces. We keep a close eye on how the challenges develop as the market and technology evolves. That way we are ready to quickly provide solutions when new issues surface.
Below we have collected a list of the 5 biggest issues we see within real estate listings right now. If you are also facing these or would like advice on how to deal with a challenge you are seeing on your site, get in contact with us now for a free consultancy on a solution.
Current Problems within Real Estate Listings
Scams and Fraud
People looking for a place to live can be in a pretty desperate situation and are easy targets for scammers.
One of the most common scams on real estate sites is being asked for a deposit without getting to view the apartment. Often the scammer will apply a sense of 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 it is often very hard to get a good apartment 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 of course never hears another word from them. Most likely the apartment never existed or didn’t belong to the scammer.
Circumventing Paid Features by Posting in the Wrong Categories
Since real estate is a lucrative business, many sites earn a good part of their revenue from these listings, charging for ads posted in the category or from charging for the buyer/seller communication.
A rule of thumb here at Besedo, is that if a site charges for a feature, someone will attempt to circumvent the cost. And that holds true 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.
Some advertisers may not be completely honest with the data they enter in their advert. Often either the price has been presented in an unclear manner or the location has been exaggerated.
Advertisers may write a weekly price rather than a monthly one in order to make the deal seem more attractive and despite an apartment being 30 minutes outside London it might still be listed under London apartments to give it more visibility and attract tenants.
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Duplicate Pictures Or Ads
In order to stay on top of the lists users may post their ads multiple times resulting in duplicates. This is not good for the user experience and could be harmful in terms of SEO.
A duplicate picture could also be a sign that the apartment in the ad is not actually genuine. If someone has used a stock photo or stolen the picture from another listing, it a good idea to be on high alert when reviewing the ad as it is highly suspicious that the advertiser cannot provide their own picture of the place they are selling or renting out.
Referral or Contact Detail Schemes
Some advertisers will on purpose list houses, which are already listed by real brokers in order to get a referral fee. Other times you will see people posting properties which aren’t real in order 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 will 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 being sold just before the potential tenant/buyer gets in touch. This way the agency collects details of interested parties, they can then present with similar properties, but at 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 to understand which are 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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