Online agents vs using an agent with an office on the high street

Online agents vs using an agent with an office on the high street
20th April 2023

Over the last decade, as more people have used the internet to start their search for a new home, online ‘letting agents’ have become more popular with landlords as they can, in the short term, offer lettings at a lower cost. However, using an online agent typically requires landlords to do a lot more work. Most importantly, you need to understand all the rules and regulations that have to be satisfied to legally let a home – and as there are over 168 of them, there’s a lot to know!

Landlords can create an advert with an online agent for their property that can then be published on all the major property portals, including Rightmove and Zoopla, at a cost-effective price. While this is certainly a useful option for experienced landlords, the downside of online agents like this is that there’s no local, physical branch where landlords and tenants can discuss the let with someone face to face.

For many landlords, being able to talk through legal requirements and what’s happening in the local market at the point they’re looking to let or make a new investment is hugely important. This is especially true if property investment isn’t your full-time job.

What are the other benefits of working with a traditional agent?

While some online agents are a member of The Property Ombudsman, there is currently no requirement for its people to be formally qualified or trained in lettings. In contrast, letting agents who are members of one of the industry’s self-regulating bodies – and we’re members of ARLA Propertymark – undertake initial and ongoing training and have access to legal support when needed. In addition, as a condition of our membership, all our Principals, Partners and Directors are required to achieve qualifications in residential lettings.

This means landlords and tenants can be confident that the agents they’re dealing with are professionals who really understand the business of letting and operate to the highest standards in the industry. Importantly, you can be sure that we’re always on top of new and upcoming legal changes that affect your property and/or tenancy - and with more than 400 separate rules and regulations, there’s a lot to know!

Having local agents on the ground also means we really understand local markets, which can vary from one street to another and change depending on what’s currently driving supply and demand. We know what types of properties tend to attract which type of tenants at a local level and many of our branches have relationships with local businesses, colleges and universities, which can often help streamline the process of finding a reliable tenant.

Tenants can be met and referenced in person, and when it comes to carrying out viewings, check-ins and property inspections, you’re dealing with a team that’s familiar with the property. If there are any issues during the tenancy, you’ve got people who can meet with you or your tenant in person or be at the property at short notice.

Should you go with an online agent or traditional agent?

If you’re a professional landlord who has the time to understand and stay on top of all your legal obligations, as well as what’s happening in the property market, an online agent’s advertising reach and various administrative services may be all you need. However, if you’re new to letting, are only a part-time landlord, or want to be certain you’re complying with the 400 separate rules and regulations, we recommend working with a traditional local agent. They can ensure your property is always legally let, your investment returns are maximised, and you can always speak to someone in person.

To discuss how we can help you make a success of your let, just get in touch with your local branch for a no-obligation chat.

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