Making The Right Choice Of Agency

I am currently looking at letting out my home – what things should I be aware of when choosing a letting agent?

Choosing the best letting agent is really important – after all, they are going to be looking after one of your biggest assets. There are a number of things you need as essentials from your agent and this will dictate what you should look for. Firstly, you need an agent who knows the local market inside out – someone who knows the lay of the land, what kind of property is moving quickly, what tends to take longer to let, with a sophisticated understanding of tenants and what they are looking for, too.

A great agent will be someone with great EQ, who instinctively ‘knows’ people, who can read tenants beyond what they’re being told at face value, who listens properly to needs and motivation, rather than sticking to a dictated wish list, who maintains regular telephone contact with potential tenants with a list of people likely to want to take a property as soon as it comes to market. And, if you’re lucky enough to have more than one tenant competing for your home, someone who can make a sound judgement on who is better for you and your property.

Ideally your agent should be someone you can get on with, but far more importantly someone whose opinion you respect and value, who gives proper honest advice from the outset, who doesn’t overvalue or flatter in order to get the instruction. Your agent should give you frank and sensible recommendations about your property – decorating, updating, price, etc. – not avoiding difficult conversations that will otherwise lead to unnecessary disappointment later on. Even if you don’t always like what you hear, listen – a good agent will always act in your best interests.

Remember that whilst letting agents are a friend to many, they also have to lay down the law and be tough where necessary. You need an ally, someone who will fight your corner and who knows their stuff, someone qualified and up to date with the latest legislative changes; a member of ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents) who will manage your money sensibly by using approved government schemes for registering deposits, for example. And, should a tenant turn out to be unreliable, you need someone who will know how to resolve problems in the correct way, in good time, with the least possible stress and the best outcome.

The common thread to all of this is that you need a professional and knowledgeable letting agent who you can trust to do what they say they are going to do; trust to deliver the service they promise to deliver when you first meet them and trust to attract the best for the best outcome. Trust is at the heart of a great agency and, therefore, central to a good reputation in the local marketplace.

Ask for recommendations, go into the office, rather than simply talking over the phone, and get a feel for the team you’re employing. Look for an agency with years of experience in advising owners and managing relationships, and seek out the evidence that this business is in command of its patch. A happy, welcoming and professional team and boards that quickly change to ‘Let’ are the most obvious evidence that you’re choosing someone you can trust to do the best possible job.

Edward Slark-Hughes MARLA is Senior Lettings Manager at Harrison James & Hardie. He has many years of lettings experience having worked in London and the Cotswolds. To speak to Edward, telephone 01451 822977 or e-mail edward@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk.