There are a number of letting agents available online now, such as The Online Letting Agents, each offering a similar service for a similar price, so which one do you choose?
Customer service – Clearly this is a very important factor when appointing an agent. The best way to gauge the level of customer service that both you and potential tenants can expect to receive is to speak to the online agent directly. It is important to gain an impression that the online agent will have your best interests at heart and be able to find you the kind of tenants that you are looking for.
A good online agent should have a selection of reviews available on their website, which are regularly being posted. It is encouraging if these reviews are provided by both landlords and tenants, as this shows that their customer service extends to both parties. Good reviews dating back some time show that the online agent has a consistently high quality service.
It can be the case that your property does not perform as well as you would like. A good online agent should be able to offer you a review of the performance so far, and make recommendations as to how to improve the number or quality of leads being received.
Advertising – One of the main points of interest to landlords is the price of advertising, the length of time this advertising lasts, and the websites that their property will appear on. Most online agents advertise across all of the UK’s leading property websites, with rightmove, the zoopla property group and gumtree providing the highest number of leads. The price can vary across online agents, and the length of advertising can vary from one month to until let. It is worth remembering that if the cost to the landlord is extremely low, then either someone else will be picking up the tab, or the service delivered will be considerably below par.
Lead Handling – The way that online letting agent’s handle enquiries vary. Be aware that some online agents will provide the tenant enquirer with the landlord’s contact details. This can lead to landlords being contacted an inconvenient times, and also being contacted directly by tenants that they have declined due to their suitability. Whilst some landlords are comfortable with this arrangement, others will prefer their details to be kept private, and will only choose to give these out when they are ready to do so.
Some agents go the extra step of contacting enquirers to ensure that they meet your criteria, and will provide you with these and any other details that may be relevant to you. This not only ensures that all tenant leads you receive meet your basic requirements, but gives you an insight in to their background, helping you to decide whether or not they are suitable for you.
It is important that the agent informs tenants of all the costs relating to the rental property when they make an initial enquiry. Clearly it is a waste of everyone’s time if a tenant cannot afford the deposit, or if they later discover that there is an agency fee which they are not prepared to pay (typically the fee charged by online agents to tenants is significantly lower than that charged by their high street counterparts).
Customer Support – The path of a landlord is not always smooth, and it is good to know that the agent you appoint will be able to support you beyond the initial tenant find, should you require advice or assistance at any point.
The benefits of using an online agent are clear; from the massive cost savings they offer to the level of control they enable you keep over your property. Once you have found an agent who understands your requirements, and offers you the level of service and support you want, you are all set for a long and happy future together!