A Guide to choosing the right letting agent

When the time comes to let your property, how do you choose which letting agent to appoint? You have a tremendous choice of agencies and, on the surface, most appear to do more or less the same thing. But there is far more to moving than simply finding a tenant, and it is critical that when the time comes, you choose the right agent for you, your property and your situation.

A good starting point is to find an agent who clearly understands the stresses involved in letting and managing a property and who accepts that you are likely to want to let your home with minimal stress and for the most attractive figure the current market will pay within a convenient timescale.

Local Expertise

Landlords overwhelmingly prefer to work with local experts, whom they regard as "in the know". Location Location has operated in the area for almost 10 years. So choose a well-established local agent.

Valuation

Beware! It is well known that some agents deliberately over-value in order to impress you to secure your instruction, so don’t fall into the trap of simply choosing the agent with the highest valuation. An inflated price attracts the wrong tenants to your property, and the right tenants never see it, resulting in the property going stale on the market this often leads to the properly falling below its true market value.

The issue of correct valuation is paramount It is critical that you appoint an agent who not only has a track record of successful letting in the area (not just properties on the market) but also has a thorough working knowledge of current rental market activity, and who can interpret prevailing market trends to your advantage.

Commission

Many landlords are unaware of the considerable differences between agencies and have no alternative than to decide whom to appoint on the level of commission charged. This is often a huge mistake and is a bit like buying a car purely on price considerations. All cars go from A to B, but the vast price differential is related to issues of quality, reliability, security, performance and the whole driving experience.

The same is true of estate agents. Some agents simply cannot afford to provide a level of service that is either effective, or makes the selling experience hassle-free. For example, they are often the last firms to provide adequate staff training or a dedicated property management team resulting in a poor quality service for you and your tenants.

Communication

Too many agencies only communicate good news! That’s easy! Good agents are in frequent contact with their clients and have the guts to advise you if anything needs to be done to improve your chances of letting your property. At Location Location we take communication and customer service seriously, that’s why we have been voted best estate agent in North London and Stoke Newington in 2012 and 2013 by the leading independent review site allagents.co.uk.

Enthusiasm

If an agent is not enthusiastic about your property - don’t instruct them. A positive approach to letting your home is essential if tenants are to be inspired into renting your property.

Viewings

Does the agent accompany all viewings? What about evenings and weekends? It is incredible that so few estate agents provide accompanied viewings. Apart from the obvious security issues, only when agents accompany potential tenants around a property can they probe, listen and understand what the tenant really wants. Agents who develop a picture of the tenants’ preferences, in addition to those few key ones that were registered, tend to have a much higher viewing/let ratio and do not frustrate their clients with unsuitable viewers. (Our policy is to accompany all potential tenants around a property, and provide prompt and constructive feedback).

Dedicated Property Management

Some estate agents rely on their lettings staff to manage landlord’s property, this can result in poor service as a lot of the time the staff do not have the time to look after your property properly. Location Location have a dedicated property management department, their sole focus is to manage your property, so they make sure rent is collected on time and any maintenance issues are resolved quickly and hassle free. We can effectively manage anything from a single property to large portfolios.

Internet

The Internet is a valuable tool in estate agency. But don’t be impressed by any “hit” claims. All web- enabled agents are exposed to many potential tenants, but how well do they qualify those tenants when it comes to discussing your home. It is very easy for a “tenant” to register a passing interest, it takes a well-trained agent to identify those who have a serious and pressing need to move. Find out how easy it is for tenants to use the agent’s property search facility by visiting their website yourself. Is it impressive, state-of-the- art and does it provide useful buying and selling advice?

Property Portals

Over 80% of people looking to rent use the Internet when looking for a property. So you need to be sure that your property is found and promoted - quickly and easily. An agent might have a great website, and that’s fine, but do they subscribe to the most effective property portals, because this is how tenants are directed to your property when they search using the search engines such as Google, Ask Jeeves, Excite or Yahoo. Three of the UK’s market-leading sites are Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Good agents list their clients’ property on one of these, but very few list on all. But if you want maximum coverage leading to more tenants and therefore the chance to achieve the very highest price for your home, then you really should use an agent who subscribes to these major portals.

Choosing your Agent

Ultimately, you are best served by choosing a locally based agent who holds values similar to your own.

One who has time to listen; one who understands your needs and concerns; one who can offer real, straight-talking advice; one who takes pride in his/her integrity, combined with a passion for results.

Needless to say, Location Location not only fulfills, but also goes beyond many of the recommendations outlined here.

You owe it to yourself to make the right choice. So when the time comes to let your property, choose wisely.

Choose: Location Location