How To Choose A Letting Agent or Property Manager
10th January 2018
Why do you choose who you choose to let and manage your property in Leicester? Is it their branding/advertising? Was it that they happened to be in the right place at the right time? Or were you convinced by their promises of quick-lets, advertising your properties on major property portals and ultra-low fees? In this article, we’re going to discuss how to choose your lettings agent.
Have you ever heard of a lettings agent offering extortionate rates for repairs whilst fully managing your property? It certainly isn’t uncommon. Another uncommon offer amongst many lettings agents is furnishing packages which cost upwards of thousands of pounds, violently eating into the potential returns on your investment. Harry Albert Lettings & Estates uses only reputable, carefully vetted tradespeople when undergoing repairs or maintenance and ensure any costs associated with the upkeep of your property are fair and reasonable, we only pay our contractors once the job has been inspected to our satisfaction. We also offer furnishing packages, but we realise that not one size fits all, because of this, we work with you to define your budget and furnishing needs, this also allows us to offer a bespoke service depending on the type of tenant you are looking for.
Your property should be held as an investment and treated like any other asset that is managed on your behalf. A good lettings agent will be able to accurately value your rental property, both the market value and the achievable rental value. They should also be able to calculate what sort of return you should expect from your rental property and what the return has been on your property over the last twelve months, if they’re unable to meet these expectations, it may be worth having a second thought before you allow them to take on your property.
If you’re purchasing a property and have been recommended an agent by the developer who sold you the property, it is worth bearing in mind that they may have a vested interest, likely in the way of a referral fee or commission. This doesn’t necessarily bear any weight whatsoever on the recommended agent’s ability or reputation, but it is worth noting that the recommendation may not have been given in your best interest.
Similarly, you mustn’t appoint an agent purely based on their location in relation to the property itself. This may be convenient for the agent but if the agent isn’t very reputable, that won’t matter in the slightest. Besides, you are our client; we, as agents, should go to the ends of the Earth to meet our obligations to you – our convenience isn’t a factor and certainly shouldn’t be a factor in your decision as to which agent you should instruct.
It is important, certainly, to weigh up your choices when it comes to choosing the right lettings agent. The fees alone shouldn’t be the driving factor behind your choice, however, it is important to bear the agent’s fees and commissions in mind as this will have an impact on your monthly returns. You can ask yourself four questions to help you decide which is the right lettings agent for you:
Is my agent’s achievable rent and market rent valuations accurate? It is easy to compare rental prices simply by looking on one of the larger property portals and reviewing rental prices for properties that share similar values to your own (the number of bedrooms, gardens, double glazing, etc) and you can estimate whether the achievable rent is higher or lower than these values based on various aspects and qualities of your property (including whether it’s furnished/unfurnished, energy performance rating, bills included/not included, etc). It is OK to disagree with your agent’s valuation, it is your property; the agent should, however, be able to justify their valuations.
Are their tenancy agreements up to date and compliant with legislation? Legislation changes in landlord and housing law occur frequently. Housing is certainly a hot topic in politics and it isn’t going to change any time soon. It’s important that your agent stays on top of what’s relevant, especially changes in the law. They should also be aware of all health & safety requirements landlords must adhere to when letting their property, including installation of carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors and of course, the process of eviction should they let your property to a less desirable tenant than they appeared on paper and during initial meetings.
What kind of fees will I be charged? Letting agents charge different fees for different services and the variation in fees can be drastically different for similar, if not the same, service. The important thing to make sure is that you’re happy with what you are paying for and how much is being charged. At Harry Albert Lettings & Estates, we are happy to tailor our services to suit you and in such instances, our fees may vary slightly but we will ensure you receive the best value for money regardless of the fees you are paying.
Will my agent offer rental guarantee insurance? The biggest headache you will encounter as a landlord or property investor is the non-payment of rent. We try our best to ensure our tenants are reliable in paying their rent and we do this through thorough referencing, credit checks and affordability checks. Our highest priority for our tenants is ensuring they find a suitable property that fits their needs, the foremost of which is their ability to afford the rent. Rent guarantee insurance is a product that takes some of the headaches out of renting out your property as it gives you the peace of mind that your income is safe should the tenant find themselves in financial hardship and unable to pay your rent or should your property become vacant.
How proactive are the lettings agent at inspecting your property? Any good letting agent will conduct a thorough, accurate inventory before checking the tenant into the property which will then be agreed to by the tenant before they sign the tenancy agreement. This is vital in case of deposit disputes resulting from damages beyond fair wear and tear. However, another role of your managing agent is to inspect your property on a periodical basis (at least every year or six months, sometimes more frequently if letting out to students, for example) and update the inventory with each inspection. If your letting agent isn’t doing this, you may find it difficult to prove the condition of items within the inventory should there be a dispute. Regular inspections also limits the risk of damages to your property caused by tenants.
All in all, there's several important considerations to bear in mind when choosing your letting agent or property manager, some will offer very different services or products for the fees that you pay and it is important to compare fees but it isn't wise opting for the cheapest agent just because they are the cheapest, you will often find that you get what you pay for. By following this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision on who is the best agent for you or whether you require an agent at all.