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

13:30 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "27/08/2014 - 13:07":

Mandy..... A touch of cynicism in your riposte? I do think value for money is important, but in the recent survey of over 2500 landlords, conducted by the Property Academy,
cost was not the principle driver in choosing an agent. Although nearly half did "negotiate" the fee level, one third only asked one agent to value their property. interestingly, only 22% said they chose the cheapest agent. and 85% said they would recommend their agent!

by Mark Crampton Smith

13:41 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "27/08/2014 - 10:25":

Steve, thank you for your comments...... I do think that the recent Property Academy Survey does undermine some of your contentions? For 37% of landlords voids is their biggest concern; I think it is reasonable to ask an agent what their average void period is. It may vary from area to area, but here in Oxford where we manage over 400 units, our average void is less than 3 days per year per property. We achieve this by maintaining excellent relations with tenants so we always have the maximum notice of their departure, and maximum time to market. If our client knows they are only going to have 3 days per year void, they will be happy to keep rents slightly below market value, thus affording us the widest pool of applicants to commend. The question about deposit returns is important as it is an indication of reputation within the tenant world...... part of our role as agents is to negotiate deposit returns, whilst I except that the landlord proposes deductions, we must manage that; a disgruntled tenant does not tell all his or her mates that the landlord was a thieving *!*>>*^" they are much more likely to say the agent kept all my money!!

by Mandy Thomson

14:34 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Crampton Smith" at "27/08/2014 - 13:30":

Hi Mark - I should clarify that I wasn't intending that to be a comment against ALL letting agents, just rogue ones, that new landlords (as I was at the time) are more likely to fall for.

At the time, the one I chose wasn't THE cheapest, but he was a lot cheaper than one of the well known larger agents would have been, and being unaware at the time of what to look for, and what could go wrong, we foolishly chose him, using cost and lack of negative reviews as the criteria...

by Mandy Thomson

14:36 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "27/08/2014 - 14:34":

...Also, I don't think he had a "lovely horse", but he definitely had a Father Jack, in the shape of his contractor, the chain smoking, foul mouthed alcoholic cowboy builder...

by Mark Crampton Smith

14:45 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Mandy, I am sorry and embarrassed that you have had such a negative experience with an agent. As you will be aware, there is no legislative requirement for an agent to have any qualification, training or indeed any insurance; I hope that you will take the time to write to your MP suggesting that the industry should be regulated in some way. There are professional bodies who are lobbying for this, and who would be well placed to manage a licensing scheme.

by Mark Alexander

14:54 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Crampton Smith" at "27/08/2014 - 13:41":

Hi Mark

I do feel that Steve from Leicester made a good point. Any agent has the ability to boast and prove zero voids if he can persuade his landlords to let properties at well below the going rate.

by Mark Crampton Smith

15:42 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "27/08/2014 - 14:54":

@Mark A. Indeed, but surely with all the portal assistance available to landlords, most would have a firm grip on what constitutes "market rent"? To be fair, in my experience, most landlords are so keen to maximize yield that they leave themselves vulnerable to a narrow band of tenant applicants. I am fairly confident that you yourself believe it is imperative to get the right tenants for the right property? Might be a theme for another thread.........? "How do we decide what rent to ask for?"

by Mark Alexander

16:03 PM, 27th August 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Crampton Smith" at "27/08/2014 - 15:42":


To an extent I concur but there are a lot of accidental landlords out there and sadly they are shark bait as a result of their naively.

by Steve From Leicester

16:17 PM, 1st September 2014, About 7 years ago

I've just returned to this to see if anyone was still reading and was surprised to see that I'd generated a few responses.

Mark Crampton-Smith and I may have to agree to differ on some things or maybe we're coming at it from different angles

. I agree that its part of our job to help tenants and landlords reach agreement over deposits, and the tenant will likely blame the agent if they're not happy. BUT how does this help Mandy choose an agent? Few deposit disputes MIGHT mean the agent is very skilled at negotiating a satisfactory outcome (which would make him a "good" agent), or it might mean he encourages the landlord not to bother claiming and recommends just handing the deposit back (making him either a "good" agent or a "bad" agent depending on whether you're the tenant or the landlord). Or he might encourage the landlord to fight for every penny leading to lots of disputes - does that make him a "good" agent or a "bad" one?

And as for voids a good agent will advise not just on rental value but also on presentation. However, its up to the landlord if he chooses to take that advice. A significant minority really do think they know better and have to find out the hard way.

That's what I think anyway 🙂

by Mark Crampton Smith

16:30 PM, 1st September 2014, About 7 years ago

Steve, I am sure we are both singing from a very similar hymn sheet really........ I think that the points you have raised have certainly made us all think!
I will be reviewing my "killer questions" when the comments die down and do a final draft in the light of all the contributions from informed readers!
The reason I wanted to explore this idea is that I am constantly amazed by how many landlords leave their valuable property asset in the hands of those purporting to be agents, some of whom are at best disorganized and ill-informed, and at worst quasi-criminal.
I thought it might be useful to try and identify some killer questions to help sift the wheat from thew chaff? It does look like I am going to have to have rather more than five though!!

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