05 Apr Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated…
‘No hidden fees’ ‘discover the cheapest way to let your property’ ‘just one fair fee’
These are just some of the claims of the online agents. Do you see the recurring theme? It seems that the online agent believes that price is the only way to compete. In fact, if you believe the press you might think that us ‘traditional’ letting agents are on our way to extinction.
Before I go any further, let me explain the difference between a ‘traditional’ letting agent and an online company.
As a traditional letting agent, we sit in an office that you can visit, we meet all of the landlords and tenants who we work with and we are based right in the middle of the area that we serve.
Online agents will often be based in an office that could be miles away from the area they are dealing with. Much of the work is done online – keeping costs down yes – but this remote way of working is not good for understanding the local market and getting to know clients.
There are many reasons why good letting agents are still thriving in these digital days. I emphasise the word good, as not all agents are (see my blogs about what makes a good agent here: http://www.robinsonreade.co.uk/hey-bob-wanna-set-up-a-letting-agency/ and http://www.robinsonreade.co.uk/eenie-meeni-miny-mo/ )
Here are just a few of the reasons why, in my opinion, good ‘traditional’ agents are better than their online equivalent.
- An experienced local letting agent is more likely to find a more suitable tenant in a shorter period of time and, quite possibly, at a better rental. This is because the lettings industry is and always has been a ‘people’ business. Does a landlord really want to rent his property to somebody he (or his agent) has never met before? Somebody that’s just filled in a form online and then been processed via some automated procedure? And is a good quality tenant really going to trust an online website where they may have to send money over before they even meet anyone from the agency?
Personally vetting tenants (and landlords) is one of the most important and valuable things we do as an agency. By meeting potential tenants you can learn a lot about them. A face to face meeting can give an insight into their personality in a way which digital correspondence can’t.
- Every tenancy is different and every tenant is an individual. An automated process can never deal with such individuality as, by design, it’s set up to be process rather than people driven. So, an online agent who produces an automated tenancy agreement will surely run into problems with those more complex agreements.
- If using an agent to manage your property you’ll want to be sure that the agent is available 24/7 and that they really know your property. Many online agents will run their operations from a call centre by people who have never been to your property. We ensure that all of our lettings team are knowledgeable about all of our managed properties.
- You get to meet the team of people dealing with your property from the outset. We are real people not online avatars and, because we aren’t chasing to achieve high volumes of properties (as do the onliners to make their profit margins work) we can give you the personal service you need.
- Finally, lets talk about money. I firmly believe that you don’t get something for nothing. Online agents will have amazing headline fees… one quotes £35.00 + VAT per month. You have to wonder how hard they will work to get that fee and you should certainly check what’s included (and more importantly) what isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong – a good online presence and some automation is absolutely crucial but I would argue that the ‘traditional’ high street agent is here to stay. A good local agent is going to take care of EVERYTHING for you – the landlord. This will free up your time and provide you with reassurance that everything is being handled with maximum efficiency by someone who is qualified and who does this day in, day out.
We ain’t dead yet….
If you have anything lettings related that you’d like to discuss please get in touch by telephone 01489 579009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to get to know you.
Emma Macgregor MARLA
PS: If you are looking for a ‘smart let’ (http://www.robinsonreade.co.uk/quick-let-or-smart-let/) call us today on 01489 579009 or email us at email@example.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.