Apart from coffee shops and big-name chain stores on our High Streets, there is now a Letting Agent on every corner. With thousands of letting agents keen for your business, how do you know which is the right one for you?
Finding the perfect partner has never been easier. Or so we are told…
Looking for love? you can download an app and find your dream date with the swipe of a finger. Looking for the best home insurance deal to suit you? Comparison sites have got you covered.
But choosing the right letting agent? There’s no app for that (yet).
Residential Agency, as a business, suffers from what I call over-capacity. There are just too many of us. In fact, a recent survey carried out by Propdex.co.uk revealed there are 21, 641 estate agents in the UK, most having a Letting and Property Management Department. So how on earth do you choose the right Letting Agent?
Finding the right letting agent is a lot like meeting ‘the one’. They always pick up the phone when you call. They’re there to help you out of a pickle. And, they always have your best interests at heart.
But for the relationship to work, it’s best to make sure your values align. After all, the perfect partner gets on with your friends. Just as your agent needs to have a good relationship with potential tenants in the area. They need to be consistent in the level of service they provide. In an age of fingertip-information internet searches, check out their history online like you would with a potential partner.
Don’t let the pizzaz of Corporate firms dazzle you, with their network of shiny High Street offices and heavy branding. Its what’s on the inside that counts- not all that glitters is gold. It’s important to get to know an agent before you get carried away and sign up to a deal.
The range of services Agents offer is the same, though the way a Corporate firm compared to an Independent delivers them can be worlds apart.
Multi-branch Corporate firms have thousands of Clients and property instructions to handle. To manage high volume, they have a highly structured, process driven business- a one-size-fits-all model. The question is , are they flexible to occasionally break their rigid business model to meet your individual needs?
Independent letting agents tend to be highly customer focused. You can recognise them by their cosy offices, local dial codes, just-boiled kettles, and friendly smiles. Client-focused, they are happy to adapt to best serve your individual needs. Here are the 6 things to look out for….
1: Local Knowledge and Expertise
A good letting agent should know your town like the back of their hand. We’re not saying they must be ‘born and bred local, but to serve you well, they need to know their way around.
Can this agent pass the lightening round test? Potential tenants want to know everything. Transport links, amenities, good schools, and Council Tax rates.
With attention to detail about your property and good local knowledge, letting agents will be able to show off your home’s best attributes and all that the area has to offer, matching the right tenant to your home.
2: Consistency of service
There’s no denying the wow factor of the corporate brand estate agents with their shiny multi-branch network of offices and catchy logos. Having worked in the business for over 22 years, I’ve learnt that what matters most to Clients is consistency of service.
Clients want solutions to problems and don’t like being passed around different departments, spending most of the call on hold and repeating themselves to each person they are passed on to.
When the chips are down and you need your letting agent’s help, it’s nice to know their name. It’s helpful to deal with the same person each time you call. It’s reassuring to be able to put a face to the name.
Busy corporate letting agents can lack that sprinkling of personal service. Larger corporate companies often direct different queries to independent departments. These can even be in different offices across the country. Remember, independent letting agents often have only two or three members of staff per office. They remember your name and how many sugars you take in your tea. Why speak to several contacts when you can deal with one?
3: Quality of service
Money matters. But the fee isn’t always the best driving force when searching for the best letting agent.
Price, whilst important, is no guarantee of quality of service. Instead, consider what your letting agent is offering for that fee.
Quality of service also includes their turnaround time. Ask letting agents the time taken on average from putting a property on the market to successfully letting it out.
Watch out for false promises. Some larger agents may guarantee you a timescale of two weeks. However, sometimes it’s worth taking a little longer to search out the ideal tenant.
Balance out cost and time, after all – your time is money.
4: Rave reviews
Here comes the fun part…review time!
A letting agent’s website will give you a great idea of who they are and their achievements. But for the truth, it’s best to do your own independent research.
Trawl Google Reviews and Facebook to find out what others are saying about letting agents in your area.
Watch out for ‘fake reviews’ – volume doesn’t always reflect success and service. Impersonal avatars are a giveaway. Vague reviews lacking in detail can also be the work of paid professionals.
How knowledgeable is this agent? What is their customer service like?
When you’ve narrowed your list down to the top three, it’s time for a mystery shop.
Call up your prospective letting agent and put them to the test. Ask them some basic questions, such as “how much would you expect my property to fetch in monthly rent”, “how will you go about attracting a tenant for my property” or “what checks do you put in place to ensure you are recruiting quality tenants for my home”?
5: Endorsements and accolades
By now you may have a potential agent in your sights. Before finalising your choice, check out their qualifications. Just as you would hire a qualified electrician to rewire your home or go to a qualified dentist for root canal surgery, your property rental should also be in the hands of an expert.
Is your letting agent registered with a trade body or ombudsman? Look out for key logos such as the Propertymark Logo, Property Ombudsman and membership of a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Such agencies’ mission statements are to reassure and safeguard the public by encouraging their members to sign up to membership rules that include clear codes of conduct and who enforce disciplinary measures for those who fall short of expectations.
A good letting agent is open, transparent, and moving forward with the times.
One final point to consider is a letting agent’s philosophy.
Values-led letting agents focus on care and customer service, rather than smashing targets. After all, you are a person, not a number, right?
Whether the property you are letting is yours or a loved one’s, once a deal is finalised, it will be your letting agent’s responsibility. Integrity is a priceless quality in an agent. Be sure to seek out a letting agent with a reputation for integrity and unrivalled customer service.
Some agents may tell you everything you want to hear. Follow your gut. Take the time to do your research to investigate whether they have your best interests at heart. Don’t forget, in some cases the agent with the longer turnaround time is the one making sure you have the right tenant for your property.
Remember, with thousands of letting agents out there, finding the best fit for you is the most important factor.
A top-quality letting agent can help you maximise the income potential of your Investment, with careful tenant selection and keeping it let for the long term.
Contact us today for more information on how Ashmore Residential could help you better run your Investment, be it a single property or portfolio. Why not call us on 020 8366 9777 Or drop me a line [email protected] Let us handle the now so you can look to the future.