What landlords look for in a letting agent [+ podcast]
When considering a new letting agency, landlords keep certain attributes front of mind. Gerry Heggie, Hirsch Estates, explains some of the top things they look for.
If I were a landlord looking for a letting agent, I'd want to make sure that my investment was being managed in line with my best interests - and there are certain characteristics that I'd expect from the agent to ensure that this was the case.
A focus on trust and transparency
Trust is huge for landlords, as well as transparency. A new landlord won't know you, so trust can only truly be established over the course of time.
Once that trust has been developed, communication continues to be absolutely key. Agents should be regularly touching base with their landlords to ensure that trust is maintained in the long term.
Demonstrating a high level of professionalism to a landlord is crucial and an easy way to do that is by being a member of a professional body such as ARLA Propertymark.
Knowing that members are expected to comply with the code definitely would give me that extra bit of reassurance.
Expertise in compliance
Agents should share any changes in legislation that they see on the horizon with current and prospective landlords.
This will not only help your landlords stay compliant, it will also show your value as an agent through the expertise that you're demonstrating and the weight that you're taking off their shoulders to protect them and their tenants.
At Hirsch Estates, we also have overseas landlords that might not necessarily be in touch with what's happening in the UK because they're busy focusing on their own businesses. So they rely on us to feed them back that information.
Knowledge of the local area
Agents should demonstrate in-depth local knowledge to ensure that they can offer the right advice on how best to market their landlord's property for the local audience.
Your potential landlords may even be able to discern this in how you market your properties, and the details you include on your own website. Showing your immersion in the local community could be key to getting that first conversation with your landlord.
A supportive approach
At Hirsch Estates, alongside constant communication, we look for different ways to support our landlords and meet their needs. Similar to trust, agents should show understanding and flexibility according to a landlord's situation.
For example, we recently launched a rental advance option, where landlords are paid a year's rent in advance, although the rent is still collected monthly from their tenants.
Landlords are faced with ever increasing taxes and rules and this initiative can support them to take cash quickly, apply it to their assets, and increase capital, as opposed to waiting one or two years. We just try to be as flexible as possible.
A forward-thinking mentality
Agents should also show that they aim to stay on the front foot to help their landlords in the best way. There are an awful lot of training courses available, which we try to attend regularly and a host of free live and recorded webinars that are really informative so there are plenty of ways to ensure that your agency can stay on top of the latest and upcoming changes.
But technology to create a better service is the future for agents. Going back to many years, the systems that were in place for years no longer allow us to work as effectively.
It's already a challenging market and it's really important that we adapt with the times. Agents that don't adapt might not be able to attract new landlords or maintain existing ones - and may struggle to survive.