Online Letting Agents
What is an online letting agent?
An online letting agent is the new breed of letting agents that often don’t have a physical office and don’t just cover a specific locality. This type of new style letting agent are purely internet based and are geared up to do the internet marketing that traditional letting agents do by getting the rental property onto the major property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. They often also offer other ancillary services such as carrying out the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or producing an inventory for a landlord. Of course they will charge extra for these services but still the fundamental service is to get your rental property uploaded and visible across the inernet and to all those prospective tenants.
Should I use an online letting agent?
Is it possible to find a tenant without a traditional letting agent? Well in this world of disruptive technology and routes to market we know its all about the Internet. This means for landlords getting your property on one of a number of the major internet property portals like Zoopla or Rightmove is where it’s at! I have looked at the best free letting sites but to be frank my experience with advertising my rental property on Gumtree was to be frank less than impressive. I did get responses but the quality of tenants was not what I was looking forward. One of the issues with free advertising sites is that because the tenant does not have to pay to access them it does attract less financially secure prospective tenants. Personally, not what I’m looking for. I want a dependable long-term tenant with a good job or even a good tenant guarantor.
A couple of years ago the Internet was not that dependable, websites were unstable, functionality was limited, user experience was often poor. No longer. To be frank my experience with some traditional letting agents has been less than impressive and for me as an experienced landlord I don’t want some wet behind the ears trainee letting agent making decisions on my prospective tenant (who is going to make or break the tenancy) and potentially make my life hell. A letting agent for me just needs to get my rental property on the online portals. I want to have control over the vetting of the tenant.
My only experience of a nightmare tenant was brought about by having them hoisted on my by an undesurning letting agent. I know that if I’d had the opportunity to meet the prospective tenant I would have NEVER EVER taken them on. This is again why the new breed of online letting agents are good. They do in my opinion force a landlord to take control of the important aspect of letting a property
the viewing of a rental property. So I turn to my recent experience of using an online letting agent and it’s been pretty good.
Online letting agents – how much?
How much will it cost to advertise my rental property with an online letting agent? The critical thing to know about using an online letting agent is that they going to be a lot cheaper than a conventional letting agent. This is basically because they don’t have the costs of a large network of physical letting agents with all the associated rental costs and business rates which have to be paid for somehow. These are ultimately reflected in your letting agent charges. So having ascertained that one of the big advantages of an online letting agent is the costs then how much will you have to pay? The simple answer is that providing you just require the basic service of getting your property advertised the cost is going to be south of a £100. Just doing a brief trawl around the internet will throw up various online letting agents that have promised to do it for less. I’m guessing that a lot of these start ups are offering their services on a no profit basis to lure in business and build volume so don’t necessarily expect the rates to stay this low for ever.
My experience of using an online letting agent
My journey started as most landlords do being under pressure and trying to balance, business, rental properties and just a little time away from it all. I start by looking at my alternative to get my rental property online. There are an increasing number of online letting agents able to get your rental property on the big property portals. This list is not exhaustive but lets start with:
They all pretty much do the same thing. They get your property on the big internet portals. The cost of the service ranges between £50 – £100. I used Letting A Property partly because I’ve used them before (not necessarily a great reason) but also because we work with them so I was curious as a consumer to see if they delivered.
How easy was it it to get my rental property online?
My experience of using Letting A Property was pretty good. I had a few rudimentary photos of my rental property that I could upload through the Internet. The website worked well so I could upload a description and write a letting advert, specify the rent and deposit. It kept me legal by insisting that I had a Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Just to make landlords aware once done the last for 10 years and if you like me cannot remember whether it has been done you can check online using the EPC registry.
I’m guessing the whole process of getting my ad ready to go live took probably no more than 45 minutes. There was a short pause whilst the details were checked by Letting A Property before the advert was then posted to Rightmove and Zoopla.
Once uploaded I was amazed at the response. I literally had 6 requests to view the property within the first 24 hours and then another 4 roll in over the week. The system worked well with me receiving notifications through via my nominated email. I was also impressed with the quality of the enquiries. I was happy that out of the enquiries there were a good half that I would have given the opportunity of a face to face meet with the tenant.
Having received the notification email from Letting A Property I then send off a number of emails or gave them a call. Pretty quickly I had vetted the prospective tenants down to a short list of 3 prospective tenants. In some way they self selected. There were several tenants that were pushing me to show them around having missed out on properties in this area.
I duly arranged to meet the tenants, conducted the viewings. Made my decision to go with a charming young brother and sister from Poland. They have moved in and have been so far excellent tenants. All I can say to other landlords is that you need to wrestle control back from amateur letting agents and DIY. From now on I wouldn’t do it any other way.