Online Letting Agents vs High Street Agents

With around 90% of home hunters beginning their search online, advertising your property to let on the internet is crucial to secure quality tenants quickly, and with minimal voids.

Traditionally, the only way to access sites such as Rightmove and zoopla has been to place your property with a high street letting agent.  Now there is a new kid on the block; the online letting agent.  But are online letting agents really a credible alternative to the high street agent?

Online letting agents offer a cost effective solution to hands-on landlords.  The model is simple; the online letting agent will advertise your property on all of the major property websites and put landlords in touch with prospective tenants.  They also handle referencing, drafting of the tenancy agreement, and offer advice on all things relating to letting a property.  Viewings are normally conducted by the landlord.  This self service approach reduces costs significantly, with fees around 90% less than high street agents.  But is it for everyone?

Traditional high street agents are a well-known entity for landlords, offering the comfort of an office that can be visited, accompanied viewings and a local brand.  Of course the costs associated with high street agents reflect their higher overheads, with a typical fee of around 4 weeks rent for a basic tenant find service.

With the significant savings associated with online letting agents, it is no surprise that landlords are using them more and more.  The increasing popularity of online letting agents has lead to speculation that the days of the traditional high street agents are numbered; not so.  Online letting agents are the perfect solution for landlords who are willing and able to devote some time and effort to finding their perfect tenants.  However, this will clearly not suit all landlords.  Online letting agents may not be the ideal choice of those landlords who prefer a totally hands-off approach, or who simply can not dedicate time to meet their prospective tenants.

Both landlords and tenants are still distrustful of letting agents.  Even the most respected high street agents suffer with this reputation.  When looking for an agent, whether on line or on the high street, it is important to check out their customer service, read their testimonials, see what other people are saying about them, and most of all make sure they are offering the service you need at a price that is right for you.  After all, having a fancy coffee machine, plush sofas and smart new Minis is all well and good, but let’s not forget, it is you that are paying for this luxury not them.

The result of the competition between online letting agents and their high street counterparts will ultimately benefit landlords.  Both need to constantly evolve and improve in order to win properties now that a landlord’s choice is far wider than just their local high street.

So which is best?  Well if you don’t live near your property, are unable to conduct viewings or simply prefer to take an arms-length approach, then a traditional high street agent may be for you. However, if you want to take an active role in your rental portfolio, and make significant savings in advertising and renting your property, then online letting agents offer the perfect solution.

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