Meet the agent who says being a landlord gives him an edge
What’s the best way for an agent to understand the concerns of a landlord? This agent has inside knowledge of the obstacles and opportunities that landlords face in the lettings industry, having first built his own property portfolio.
“Being landlords ourselves gives us an edge over some other agents who don’t have experience with their own property stock,” says Neil Bharakhda, Regional Manager at Leicester-based property management company, Set To Let. “We were landlords before we became letting agents. That helps us understand the service that landlords expect.”
Moving to London when he was 19, Bharakhda worked for a landlord with a huge portfolio, to build experience in managing properties. “I was handling new tenants moving in, advertising, referencing, maintenance, rent collection... It was full-on property management from a very young age.”
Bharakhda earned an insider’s appreciation of how much change landlords have to keep on top of. “I’ve seen new regulations being introduced, changes in the industry, planning changes. New websites and portals were introduced and Gumtree exploded. We were advertising properties in London in the Loot newspaper but we moved to Gumtree and got more web-based exposure. We were collecting rents back then, and that evolved into bank transfers,” he says.
“It was a good insight into the industry from a very manual based system and limited resources to all the huge and many resources that are around us now and the changes in legislation that have been introduced since.”
Building on this experience, Bharakhda started to grow his own portfolio in London, before moving back to Leicester to apply what he’d learned. “The next challenge was to go independent as an agent. I've not looked back since. It's been a pretty interesting journey.”
Sharing the knowledge
As landlords themselves, Set to Let doesn't just help with property management, but also with investment projects. “We source properties for other investors. We refurbish properties,” says Bharakhda. “We'll buy a property for ourselves or for a landlord, and then take on the whole project management, rent it out and manage it for them as well. So these are sourced properties with healthy yields that we struggled to get in London, but we do get in other places.”
With such insights into building property portfolios, Bharakhda sees the stamp duty holiday as a big legislative catalyst for change, as long as lenders play along too. “Lenders are tightening up their regulations and not releasing mortgages as the government had intended,” he says.
If landlords can take advantage to grow their portfolios, Bharakhda predicts a secondary consequence: “A lot of landlords are now moving away from purchasing properties in their own personal names and moving them across to limited companies. Those who have portfolios have built them up in their names but are now putting them into limited companies to make it future proof.”