Our Top Tips for Choosing a Letting Agent
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
We know choosing a letting can be a big decision and for us it's always about finding the right match to have the best working relationship. There are so many different types of landlords, properties and agents that there's no one size fits all approach. When you're looking for a letting agent here's some questions you might want to ask yourself:-
Do they meet the legal requirements for a letting agent?
This should always be point number one. If a letting agent isn't registered with a redress scheme, client money protection and a deposit scheme then using them should be an absolute non-starter! Any reputable agent will have no problem if you ask for proof of their membership to these schemes and may well display their certification on their website like we do!
Will they do viewings on evenings and weekends?
When I bought my first house I found it incredibly frustrating that nearly all estate agents only do viewings between 9 and 5 and until lunchtime on Saturdays (which usually are booked up a weeks before!). I remember one making a huge deal out of how late she was working to accommodate a 5:30 viewing in the middle of the summer!
If you want your property to be shown to prospective tenants who
might work full time then this is not the way to go. We are flexible with our viewings, we prefer to show off our properties in daylight but if a prospective tenant can only make it at 8:30pm on a Sunday in February then we will show the property then and will be happy to do so. We also offer virtual viewings where we will video call a prospective tenant and show them round the property on a one to one basis.
Do they advertise on Rightmove?
There are, of course, other property portals out there - but Rightmove has 83% of the traffic, of the 90% of people who start their property search online. If a letting agent isn't advertising properties on Rightmove they may well still find you a great tenant but you'll be missing out on a huge chunk of the market. We also have good success advertising in local print media and on Facebook. The longer your property is empty the more it will cost you!
Will they make sure you only have one point of contact?
Is it important to you to have one dedicated lettings manager who will answer the phone every time you call? So many landlords tell us they get sick of speaking to a different person every time who always needs to "check on that" or "I'll get someone else to get back to you". We make sure you have one main contact who knows your property and your tenants inside and out (unless they are on holiday, because everybody needs a break sometimes!)
Do they answer the phone when you call, or call you back within 30 minutes if they don't? Do they say they'll email you, and then you find yourself chasing it up two days later? These are huge red flags! If they don't communicate well with you now when they're trying to get your business, then they're very unlikely to when they already have it! This is also really important when you think about your tenants, they are much more likely to stay living in your property for longer if your letting agent answers the phone and does what they say they are going to do
Most letting agents will ask you to sign up to a contract that ties you in for a certain number of months in order to recoup some of their costs. In a lot of cases this is as much as 12 months, which is an awfully long time if you aren't a good match for each other! We do ask you to sign up for 3 months. This gives us enough time to find a tenant, have them moved in and through any teething problems. We don't ask you to sign up for longer because we believe if we offer a good service then hopefully you'll have no reason to leave.
Are they experienced in renovation if needed?
This may or may not matter to you. But if your property needs renovating in between tenants or you have just purchased it you may need somebody who knows what they are doing when it comes to property renovation. We are experienced in property renovations both residential and commercial and can offer this as an additional service if you need it. We never settle for the quickest or easiest route and commit to getting you more than one quote for all work. We can manage a project from start to finish, visit regularly to keep an eye on things and provide contractors with access.
If you are a bit worried about taking on a buy to let project we will even come to view a property with you before you make an offer - we'll give you an honest, unbiased opinion and give you an idea of the rental free of charge
We have put this last because certainly isn't the most important factor but at the end of the day it does matter. Make sure your letting agent is transparent about their fees from the beginning and read the terms of business carefully. There are a few things to consider:-
- What are the fees going to be over a year? Most letting agent charges separately for finding a tenant and the tenant set up, and then a percentage of the rent if you want a fully managed service. Make sure you take all costs into account.
- Is the letting agent VAT registered? If they aren't you will receive the same level of service but it may cost you 20% less
- Does your letting agent have a physical presence? This may be really important to you but we believe that the days of walking down the high street to pick a property out of estate agent windows are gone. We don't run expensive offices on high streets which means our fees are lower without compromising on service. But don't forget that if you need us we are never more than 30 minutes away!
If you are looking for a letting agent please get in touch with us for a no obligation chat!
Chester & Cheshire: 01244 631 521
Wirral & North Wales: 0151 314 5225