Online Letting Agents Explained
May 11, 2012 Leave a comment
The days when house hunters flicked through the local paper to find their next home are long gone as the nation turns more and more to the internet. This has presented an expensive problem for private landlords, who are typically charged in the region of a month’s rent by a letting agent to advertise their property. In the past, landlords have not been able to advertise privately on the big property websites such as rightmove and PrimeLocation, and the only solution has been to use a letting agent to give them exposure on these sites.
This has all changed with the advent of online letting agents. Without the need for a high street presence, internet based agents have much lower overheads and offer landlords the ability to advertise their properties on the major property websites for little or no cost.
The process requires more input from the landlord as the internet based agent does not visit the property at any time. The landlord provides a description of the property along with photographs, and in turn, the online agent advertises the property on their partnered property websites. A good online letting agent should advertise on all of the major property websites, including rightmove, Primelocation, Zoopla and Find a Property.
The agent receives and screens tenant enquiries and may also arrange viewings for the landlord. The landlord then conducts all tenant viewings. This gives them an opportunity to assess whether the tenant is suitable. Once a tenant is found, you should always ensure you get full references and proof of identification. This can all be done online now, so your internet agent should have no problem assisting you with this, and may even provide them for you.
All online agents vary in the service that they offer, some even offering a service which closely resembles that which you receive from a traditional high street agent, although of course the cost rises according to the level of service you require. Web-based agents can also offer the same on-going care as a high street agent, including rent collection and full tenancy management with 24/7 emergency care.
Internet based letting agents will not suit every landlord’s requirements. The serious cost savings come when landlords invest time and effort in the process. Landlords who do not live near to their properties should question whether the use of an online agent is suitable, as they may be required to travel to their property on potentially numerous occasions for viewings.
However, on the flip side, online letting agents are a perfect solution for hands-on landlords, living close to their property and prepared to dedicate time to the tenant find process. The time required will, of course, depend on the demand for the property in the area. The reward in exchange for this effort is the opportunity to personally screen tenants during viewings, and of course to make considerable cost savings, and really maximise their investment.