5 Killer Questions to Choose a Letting Agent

5 Killer Questions to Choose a Letting Agent

18:06 PM, 6th August 2014, About 7 years ago 60

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I am keen to hone the “Killer Questions” that we can advise landlords to ask when choosing a Letting Agent. I have five as a starter, but if any of you have others that you would rate in the top five please let me know!! 5 Killer Questions to Choose a Letting Agent

  1. What is your average void period across your managed portfolio? And you non-managed?
  2. What stock do you have available to let as an average, and how many lettings negotiators do you have to let them?
  3. What percentage of tenants deposit do you return as an average across the last year? And what is the biggest area of contention?
  4. How many clients have you lost to a competitor over the last 12 months, and what was the principal reason for their defection?
  5. Why should I instruct you rather than any other letting agent in this area?

I would be very keen to hear from landlords, or others, to improve my list ….. thanks!


by Mark Crampton Smith

15:15 PM, 7th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Lucas" at "07/08/2014 - 14:48":

All excellent areas to explore....... you want the kind of information that I would want as a landlord...... If you should ever consider Oxford as an investment proposition do get in touch!!

by Fred Jones

23:21 PM, 7th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "07/08/2014 - 07:02":

Hi Mark sorry for the delay.

Ok, questions I think may be important and relevant are:
1, How do you vet a tenant?: (a) is it done purely in-house (b) do you use a vetting agency or (c) do you do both?
2, How do you market the property: internet (which portals etc) and media?
3, What length of tenancy would they recommend and why?
4, If there are repairs required on the property, do you assess who’s liable, and how do you oversee that the work is done correctly?
5, How do you handle things if the tenant abandons the property?

Though I am sure there are many more.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

15:51 PM, 8th August 2014, About 7 years ago

I would ask "Which question do you think is the most important one to ask a prospective tenant ?"

my last question to prospective tenants, once I have got their confidence is always - "Why do you want to move home just now ?"

If they are moving for reasons which mean they have something to hide, it is fairly easy to spot when they answer/try to answer this question...

by Mark Crampton Smith

16:20 PM, 8th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "08/08/2014 - 15:51":

Great idea All BankersAreBarstewards........ Perhaps that should be a follow on thread? Killer questions for finding a good tenant? I must say we have learnt a thing or two over the last 12 years! I'm a great one for paying attention to shoes..... are they clean? do they take them off when they enter the property.....etc. Also I now always try and walk an applicant back to their car if they arrive in one..... the state of a car tells you a lot about a person?

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

16:26 PM, 8th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Crampton Smith" at "08/08/2014 - 16:20":

oh 'er - my car would deffo have me down as a slob !!!

by Jill Lucas

17:28 PM, 8th August 2014, About 7 years ago

I totally agree with Mark on shoes! and perhaps I am a unique landlord in that I request that tenants remove outdoor shoes and wear slip on shoes around the flat/house. I have had a majority of tenants who have been renting for over 4 years and if you go to see them they insist you remove your shoes and the condition of the properties are excellent overall!! It's off the wall but it all contributes to reducing maintenance costs! Plus tenants like landlords that ensure that properties are well presented and maintenance issues dealt with professionally. In the early days of renting I learnt the hard way with burn holes in carpets, red wine splashed up walls etc there was limited money to do maintenance jobs and in the past some of these were bodged!. This was a tough learning curve now it's no surprises and if you advise tenants from day one of basic rules then you create a good relationship. If you are lax on maintenance issues it generally comes back to bite you! I do try to do a curry night out each year for tenants! and also have friends of tenants contacting me to see what properties we have coming up! The brilliant agent I have now sorts the best tenants (wish I could clone him) and it is now a good business but one that you need to invest time, money and do plenty of research and the rewards will come.

by Roger Lancaster

23:12 PM, 8th August 2014, About 7 years ago

IMHO there are two real killer questions which only the very best agents will be able to tell you and which truly measures their performance.

1. What is the average length of tenancy across your managed portfolio. Most won't be able to tell you and certainly won't be able to give you proof. If it is less than twenty months for a residential let then they are worse than average. Go for agents where the average length is at least twice the national average. Long tenancies mean few voids and arrears and minimal refurbs costs.

2. What % of rents are collected in relation to total potential rent. Should be at least 95% plus which means little or no arrears and few and very short voids.

The problem is very few agents can give you these figures which is why they are not blazing them across their expensive shop fronts and each month the landlord should expect a detailed report backing the figures up. There are agencies out there achieving these figures but they are few and far between and are worth paying a premium for the service they give..

by Mark Alexander

0:58 AM, 9th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Roger Lancaster" at "08/08/2014 - 23:12":

What if the lie?

Are you really going to be able to audit their answer?

by Jill Lucas

10:22 AM, 9th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Experienced buy to letters! understand that certain properties generate longer tenancies i.e. spacious 2.3 bed properties in attractive locations. Of course the London, Manchester, city centre is different.

You can generally judge the likely length of the tenancy i.e. young sharers tend to move on quickly i.e. 6 months to a year! (so I avoid) Couples in their 20's are usually saving to buy a property and move on say in 18 months and you generally find this out by asking the question! Couples in their 30's plus who are unable to save for a deposit tend to stay longer and I have several who have stayed for more than 3 years. Of course there are lots of variables.

Of course the price is key as well if you charge top whack then you are likely to get a higher turnover as the tenant is always looking for a better cheaper option.

Agents are fully aware of this and some agents are so focused on targets that they will sign up a tenant quickly who may not be the right match for the property! So even if you use an agent you do need to specify the type of tenant you are looking for it's not a hard task and when they have found suitable tenants get them to draw up a short list for you. You can still maintain control with minimum effort. If you have a portfolio of say 400 properties then you do have the opportunity to test market agents and say take 4 agents on with 100 properties each! which keeps them on their toes too!

Of course unless you have a platinum crystal ball you can never tell how long a tenancy will be, but by applying simple criteria you can at least reduce short term tenancies. Also the market goes thru peaks and troughs and you need to take rapid action when it changes. Best policy is to buy right, right property right price right location. Then in a worst case scenario you can exit the market. Generally if you adopt this policy you can always weather any storm.

Keeping the rent slightly under market pays off as it is much more cost effective to receive say £600 less per annum than to lose several thousand pounds in changeover fees.

Always have a plan and do your research it's so easy to study the market with Rightmove, Mouseprice, Zoopla etc.

by Joe Bloggs

10:32 AM, 9th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jill Lucas" at "09/08/2014 - 10:22":

'Keeping the rent slightly under market pays off as it is much more cost effective to receive say £600 less per annum than to lose several thousand pounds in changeover fees.'

We try and get top whack on new tenancies (although our yearly increases dont keep pace) espec as we dont charge any fees. To my best knowledge our tenants dont move on because the rent is full market value. dont forget moving is also hassle for tenants! i do agree it is pointless asking agents about average lengths of tenancy as students for instance will move on quicker than families. and sometimes its good to have churn as it enables the rent to be restored to market value. we are reletting after a few long term tenants are buying and finding we easily achieve a 25% uplift.

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