On the one hand “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, seems like common-sense advice, especially when making a change and any change invariably involves some degree of effort, inconvenience or hassle.
On the other hand, sometimes the benefits of getting a better deal really do outweigh the inconvenience of making a move and this is very likely to be the case for landlords thinking of making the move from a “traditional” style of letting agent to a letting agent with a more forward-thinking approach.
Here are some of the reasons why.
“New-school” letting agents understand how to use technology
There’s a whole lot more to technology than knowing how to put digital photos onto a property portal. When you really know how to deploy modern technology effectively, you can take care of everyday tasks with minimum intervention from human staff, saving time and money. Leaving them free to deal with issues where “the human touch” really does make a difference, such as managing property viewings and tenant management.
For example, you can put “paperwork” online, use online forms to gather the necessary information to deal with any issues (e.g. repairs) and send out automatic reminders about important information/dates.
This tends to suit modern tenants very well (these days, even older tenants tend to be comfortable with technology) so it’s good customer service as well as very cost-effective.
There’s less emphasis on offices and more emphasis on services
Traditional lettings agents tend to run to traditional business models, which can be roughly summarized as offices in key locations where there is (or was) a high level of natural footfall, well-presented business premises and a mainly “office-hours” schedule.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with this, but in practice, it is becoming increasingly out-of-synch with the expectations of today’s tenants and their landlords.
To be quite blunt about the matter, tenants may, grudgingly, put up with this system when they have no feasible alternative, but when they do they are, entirely understandably, going to head to the lettings agent which has been set up with their needs in mind.
Such as the one which doesn’t force them to visit their office without a very good reason (but will always welcome them if they do) and who is quite happy to work to the tenant’s schedule rather than expecting the tenant to adapt to theirs.
As a result, landlords who are with such lettings agents will see their properties put in front of carefully-vetted tenants before their competitors do.
Pricing structures can be more transparent (and convenient)
Now that it is illegal to charge fees directly to tenants (with a few exceptions), it is more important than ever that landlords budget accurately for the cost of using a lettings agent.
If they under-budget they may set rents too low and fail to make the profit they need, but if they over-budget, they may set them too high and lose out on tenants. It is therefore increasingly important for landlords to use lettings agents with transparent fee structures so that they budget appropriately.
Mark Burns is the managing director at Manchester-based estate agents, Indlu.