The 21st Century Letting Agent- Transparency

by Roger Lancaster

10:00 AM, 27th January 2012
About 7 years ago

The 21st Century Letting Agent- Transparency

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The 21st Century Letting Agent- Transparency

So far in these articles we have looked at actions, activities and principles a 21st Century Letting Agency can adopt to deliver a truly 21st Century Service to their Landlord, but how will the landlord ever know if they are actually doing what they say they do? I, among the majority of landlords, have believed the words coming out of a Letting Agents lips only to regret it. From experience I am tempted to apply the old adage applied to politicians ‘If their lips are moving they are lying’ but that is a sad indictment of the industry and not actually true of the majority of agents. The trouble is that landlords are not provided with the means to judge whether the agency is living up to its claims or not. Yet this is the digital age with the internet superhighway and most landlords can access the internet, all sorts of companies provide their clients access to their own secure data. Even the NHS is considering this so why not landlords.

A 21st Century Letting Agency can and should be able to provide their landlords with 24hr, 365 day access to the detailed performance of their portfolio right down to the individual properties and their tenants from anywhere in the world with internet access. What peace of mind would this give a landlord if he could see everything happening to individual properties, exit /induction reports, repairs progress and costs, rental income, arrears if any, tenancy agreements, vacancies, viewings, tenant details, in fact every little detail available at the touch of a button. Some landlords may well be content to trust the agency and just receive the summary report email each week and the money into the account but they should have the security of knowing that if they sense a problem they don’t just have to believe what the Agent says.

At the end of the landlord’s financial year, the agency should ensure there is a download for the accountant to prepare the annual accounts direct resulting in significantly lower accountancy costs. It is even possible for the Agency to set up the automatic payment of the mortgages on the properties as they fall due each month direct from their account. For the landlord, this saves on banking charges and worrying whether the cash is in the account to meet the payment. With the transparency of the reporting system the landlord can monitor the situation at all times. Such a system is in existence and is the envy of virtually all the landlords who have seen it.

These are not pipe dreams or wishes for the future. They are all possible now and are being provided to a greater or lesser degree by one or more letting agencies. If one can do it why shouldn’t the rest. All Letting Agencies should be aspiring to this level of management of a Landlord’s assets and landlords should be requiring them to do so. If they cannot or they refuse then landlords should look to move their business to one that does. If you don’t ask you don’t get and it is only by asking, no, insisting, on agencies raising their service levels to these standards will we ever get the 21st Century Letting Agents that sector deserves. Get this level of service and the government doesn’t need to legislate to improve Letting Agents standards and it and the industry representative bodies can concentrate on ways of protecting landlords from the rogue tenant who is, after all, far more common, than the rogue landlord or letting agent.



Comments

11:25 AM, 28th January 2012
About 7 years ago

All the above is to do with 'Managing' and little to do with Letting. Letting has its own problems for landlords where there is no transparency of price and often agents just want to get a place let, rather than focusing on getting the best price.

All the above is possible, but unfortunately property management software just isn't very good (and we have tried a LOT of providers; certainly avoid ***** ************ - their software does not work)

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11:16 AM, 31st January 2012
About 7 years ago

Hi Rayhan

Thanks for the post

I absolutely agree with you that when a property is coming vacant the lanmdlord needs it let but letting to the wrong tenant is worse than no let at all. Therefore the previous article in this series, Letting & Re-letting, about what a letting agent should do to attract the right tenant quickly is very pertinent and what a landlord should be expecting their letting agent to do. Unfortunately to many agents fail to aspire to these standards.

You might appreciate these short videos on You Tube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E5q_lQ1cog
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=951OufDSgaA&feature=related

As far as software is concerned the access I have to my portfolio is second to none and extremely informative and up to date. I agree some software is very limited and difficult to use which is why a NPG needed to bespoke its package to meet everyones requirements which included the directors need to view their own extensive portfolios performance. Happy to discuss this with you in more detail.

2:18 AM, 14th September 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi Roger,

Your point of view is interesting where you associate letting with an agent. Surely most of the value of letting is not brought by an agent, but by the online portals.

Agents pride themselves in having local knowledge. Does that knowledge help get the right tenant? Rarely, if ever. How about the right price? Again, it doesn't happen, because the agent made the bulk of their money when a landlord instructed them; they have no incentive to take time to get the best price.

So where does an agent add value? Time. Agents can do work that landlords do not have time for. Agents who dress themselves up as experts, above and beyond landlords, are kidding themselves. There are very few everyday scenarios where an agent can do more than a landlord... except, when it comes to saving time.

And that is what agents should market and charge for.


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