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How to choose a lettings agent

According to a recent small survey, only around 65% of landlords use a lettings agent - the main ...

According to a recent small survey, only around 65% of landlords use a lettings agent – the main reason being cost, but other reasons include lack of trust and lack of added value! Are all agents the same?

 - We don’t think so!

 Our clients tell us that the most important thing in a letting agent to them is; staff expertise, high quality professional service, and value for money. At the heart of all of this there needs to be a high level of Honesty, Integrity and Trust.

 Here is our quick checklist for what you should be looking for in your letting agent.

 Local area knowledge;

 As with any investment you make, you are going to want to ensure you complete your research and due diligence to gain all of the expertise and knowledge you need in order to make an informed investment decision. Property investing is very complex as it varies greatly area by area, road by road. Having your investment property in the best location will ensure you maximise your return on investment, and minimize any potential risks. This is where your lettings agent can add huge amounts of value to you – that’s if they are the local expert. A good lettings agent will know where the best returns are in the specified area, but an expert will be able to drill down into the details and provide you with different options depending on your investment strategy.

 Integrity and Trust;

 As a landlord, you are handing over a substantial asset that you have worked hard to attain. You need to have confidence and trust in your lettings agent that they will work with integrity and in your best interests at all times. This can sometimes be difficult to work out in a short period of time. A quick way to filter this is to look at their accreditation schemes. As a minimum, ensure the lettings agent are members of the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS), Safe Agent and The Property Ombudsman (TPO). NALS is an independent licensing scheme which ensures they adhere to a code of practice, all client money is protected and that they are fully insured. The TPO is an independent dispute resolution service which means any issues you have with your lettings agent can be resolved swiftly. Safe Agent is recognized by the government, consumer and industry as a symbol of trust and any agent displaying it will be part of a client protection scheme.

 A tailored and flexible service;

 Every property investor is different; different aspirations, goals, preferences. Chose an agent that takes time to understand you and what you want to achieve. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in property. How can an agent give you the best service if they don’t take time to understand what exactly you want, and go through a number of options with you? How easy is it to contact your agent? A good lettings agent should have processes in place to capture out of hours calls or be able to make arrangements to attend that viewing which can only be done 9:00am on a Sunday. This approach adds value because you know that they will do everything possible to get you the best tenant in a timely manner, and then be there to deal with any issues whenever they arise. All of this gives you peace of mind – which after all is the biggest reason landlords chose to use a lettings agent.

 Legal and compliance;

 There are a vast number of legal obligations a landlord needs to consider, and with the constant changes in legislation, this can often be very difficult to do. Your lettings agent needs to be fully aware of all of the legislation, and operate their property management to full compliance. At Belvoir Bournemouth, not do we train our team to a high standard, we also have a specialist legal team in head office to provide us with support and all of the latest legislation changes to ensure your properties meet the latest requirements.

 Marketing;

 You can tell a lot from an agent by the way they market other people’s property. As a landlord, one of your main considerations needs to be finding a quality tenant as quickly as possible. The letting agent at a minimum needs to be advertising on Rightmove. Check how the agent uses the site to market the property. Do they produce professional photographs, a clear floor plan, and an enticing description? Give your property the best chance of getting let by choosing an agent that makes an effort to market your property to the highest standard.

 Fee’s;

 It’s the one subject no lettings agent wants to talk about, their fee’s. But why is your lettings agent scared to talk about them? A great first tip for landlords is to check out the agent’s website and look at the fee’s. It is now a legal requirement that agents display their fee’s both on their website and in their premises, but yet a number of agents still don’t. If they can’t keep up with this legal requirement, what might they be missing on your property? It is also very important you check out the tenant fees. Are the fees fair and in line with other agents? If they are too high this is going to put off a lot of tenants who already have to save for a large deposit. Also look at all the additional fees being charged. Are they clear and fair, or will you get stung later down the line with a great list of additional charges?

 Can you work with them?

 Unlike selling a property, lettings is an on-going relationship – and ultimately you need to feel comfortable that they are the right person to manage your property and provide a service that meets your needs. Every landlord has different requirements; maybe you live overseas and need an agent who you trust to make decisions for you, or maybe you are building a portfolio and want regular communication and advice on expanding.

 At Belvoir Bournemouth, we listen to our clients, that’s how at the start of the article I am able to explain the common things our clients tell us that are important. If you are looking for an agent that can deliver the above, give us a call today or drop me an email. If you are with an agent currently who is not delivering the service to your expectations, then let us know and we can help!

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