Online agents vs traditional agents
Allison Thompson, national lettings managing director at Leaders Romans Group
Over the last decade, online agents have become significant players in the UK lettings market. Landlords can create an advert for their property that can 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, talking through legal requirements and what’s happening in the local market when they want 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 members of , there is 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 undertake initial and ongoing training and have access to legal support when needed. In addition, all Principals, Partners and Directors of Leaders 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 understand letting and operate to the industry’s highest standards. 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. Many of our branches have relationships with local businesses, colleges and universities, which can often help streamline 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 familiar with the property. If there are any issues during the tenancy, you have people who can meet with you or your tenant in person or be at the property on short notice.
Should you go with an online agent or a traditional agent?
Suppose you’re a professional landlord who has the time to understand and stay on top of all your legal obligations and what’s happening in the property market. In that case, 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 sure you comply 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.