Property portals are the house hunter’s go-to tool and the fact that listed properties are date-stamped as soon as they go ‘live’ online can suggest that there could be a minus or negative linked to the property.

Once a property is uploaded on a property portal it is date-stamped immediately and the clock starts ticking. For example, Rightmove lists a property as ‘added’ from day one, although in reality the property may not be ready to be actively marketed, or perhaps a low key start has been agreed between agent and vendor.

Online date-stamping a seller’s blight

The reality is that the more time that passes, the more questions the prospective purchasers will have about why a property is still on the market.  This has a negative impact on the seller’s position because the more aware potential buyers are of the length of time the property has been for sale, the greater chance there is that they will seek to do ‘a deal’ and expect a significant reduction on the listed price.

Hidden stock means missed buying opportunities

Agents and sellers are reacting to this by choosing to delay bringing properties to the market, which is creating a problem of reduced stock in a market where there is already a supply and demand issue.

In reality, property hunters are more likely to be seeing only 60-70% of properties available to buy in real terms. It’s a direct result of the negative impression ‘date stamping’ has on online properties.

Rightmove has created a policy, where in order to ‘relaunch’ a property, it can remove it from their website after 14 weeks, then relist it with an updated new date stamp.

Richard Trimbee, Director at Coast & Counties said: “These days the savvy buyer can access a vast amount of financial information online, date-stamping potentially gives buyers an advantage.”

“As a scenario, if a property goes under offer and then the sale breaks down for whatever reason and is reintroduced to the market, the property portal quotes the original listing date; so the date stamp will continue from the original date launch.”

Mr Trimbee comments: “We have seen an increasing number of vendors instructing their agents to hold off online marketing in preference to a quiet campaign and increased use of in house databases, precisely to ward against a stigma of a date stamped property.  This inevitably makes market data on the volume of current properties for sale less reliable.

“If this trend in reducing the online visibility of properties for sale continues, in reality it means buyers are only viewing a reduced number of available properties.”

Estate agents may consider that 2019 is the year when they go back to basics, reclaim the High Street and try to entice prospective buyers and sellers to walk in rather than click away.