Yesterday morning I battled through the carnage of London rush-hour to meet the beautiful folks behind the “UK’s largest online letting agent”, Upad.co.uk. That’s their cheesy slogan, not my attempt of flattery. The purpose of the visit was to primarily discuss how they had given me the nickname, “the angry landlord”, and secondly, to develop ways in which we could work together. It was all very business (besides from the one Upad guy that attended the meeting in a pair of shorts and flip-flops).
For the past several months Upad have been providing readers’ of this website with a promotional code, which allow landlords to use any of their ‘tenant find service’ with a shiny £40 discount voucher. Details & link in the box below.
£40 Upad Discount Code / Voucher for Tenant-find packages
FREE £40 Discount Voucher, which can be used on any Upad tenant-find service (detailed further down this page). Their most popular tenant-only service is normally £120, but you can get it for £80 with this discount voucher.
£60 Upad Discount Code for Fully Managed Letting Service
FREE £60 Discount code: FULLY60
Code can be used for the Fully Managed Letting Service, which normally costs £599 + £72 per month. On average the service saves landlords £458 compared to high-street agents.
I won’t bore you all with the details of the meeting, because trust me, it will bore you. Plus, I forgot most of what was discussed. However, I do want to discuss the issue of Upad being one of the more expensive online letting agent.
Ever since Upad increased their prices significantly above their direct competition (which was some time in, 2014, I believe), I’ve always been a little bit intrigued by their audacity, and evidently so have others as I’ve also heard a few other landlords mutter comments about their comparatively hefty price tag. The average online letting agent that will advertise your rental on Rightmove charge landlords an average of £50 + VAT, while Upad require you to spend double the amount for an equivalent package, which is the “Standard” (as shown below)… Ballsy pricing model.
And, if you’re looking for a more premium service from Upad, with all the bells and whistles, then you’re looking at significantly more cheese:
The issue of price did crop up during the meeting, and I did show my concern, because I felt they might be scaring away a lot of landlords by offering a price that isn’t even close to their competitors, which ‘on the surface’ is comparable to many other cheaper alternatives. On a sidenote, you won’t need to pay double the amount if you use the £40 discount voucher available above, but let’s assume it’s not available.
The premium packages are heavily loaded with perks and seem to line up with their competitors, and they’re a good solution for any landlord that wants a more complete hands-off service. But, in any case, I want to focus on the ‘Standard’ package, because as said, it is comparable to what other agents are offering for half the price, and it’s generally the service most landlords require and opt for.
What do Upad say?
Upad say their price is just right (no real surprise there), and they’re more expensive than their competitors because their level of customer service is that much more superior, and that’s backed up by their continuing market growth and positive feedback.
Most of Upad’s customers are either repeat customers or referrals from satisfied customers, which obviously speaks highly of their service.
They also said that “Upad” is searched more highly in Google than “Online Letting Agents“, which signals the power of their reputation/brand in the industry. Kind of like what “Hoover” has done in the world of vacuums (i.e. Hoover is actually the brand).
I’m not entirely sure how they gathered that data, but I’m not 100% convinced it’s entirely accurate. I’m not denying their reputation/brand, but I’m pretty sure a lot of that search data is tainted by users accidentally typing “upad” when actually meaning “ipad” (since “i” and “u” are next to one another on a keyboard- easy mistake to make). There’s no way they’d be able to differentiate between legitimate landlords searching for “upad” and those meaning to type “ipad” Anyways, that’s just my opinion. Either way, their point is, the Upad brand is synonymous for ‘quality’ in the online letting arena. You get what you pay for.
What do I think?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Upad’s service, and I’ve consistently been vocal about it when I’m asked about online agents.
When I used their service the one thing that stood out was the amount of time and money they clearly threw at their customer service department, and more than anything else, how much they value the experience they provide to both tenants and landlords, particularly in terms of support. This was also reiterated when I saw their customer service operation in the flesh; it was quite a slick operation. They definitely take that shit seriously. I should also add, I haven’t used their service in a while, but I know it’s been improved since, which seems to be backed up by their impressive TrustPilot rating/score…
So I can totally confirm and understand why they would put a premium on their service.
Do you get the extra £50’s worth? Yes. But, do you need the extra fifty pound’s worth of service? Not necessarily. You see, I like to think of Upad as the overbearing mother that will wipe the snot off her child’s face with a tissue that’s been moistened with her own saliva. Many children will need that kind of care and assistance, others won’t.
For example, Upad have trigger points in place which will flag onto their system if a particular property doesn’t receive enough enquiries in X amount of days, and they’ll try and figure out why, and then help the landlord overcome those hurdles. Useful stuff. But I have a feeling the lack of enquiries can only boil to only a few reasons, and it’s mostly down to inexperience.
The success of the marketing campaign to find tenants will largely fall onto the responsibility of the landlord, and not the agent. From my experience, if the property doesn’t receive enough enquiries it’s usually because of the following reasons:
- You’re trying to flog a dead horse i.e. the property is a pile of rubble and/or in an undesirable area
- There aren’t enough (or any) quality photos of the property
- The description of the property isn’t compelling or informative enough
- You’re overpricing the property
Minus the first point, Upad can assist and remind you of the other points if you’re struggling for enquiries. If you lack experience, Upad’s customer service system will be vital for you, because they’ll quickly be able to spot those issues and help you plug the holes. Income the much-needed overbearing mother.
I have used several other online letting agents in the past, and they have also been pretty damn good. They may not have provided, for example, 7 days a week in-house support like Upad and have the same “trigger” points in place, but they have provided enough support to make me think… “hmm.. I can get away with using a cheaper option; customer service may not be as intricate as Upad, but I’m pretty sure I can find a tenant equally as fast (which ultimately is the main goal)”
My theory is, if you have a desirable property, the product will sell it self. But also, if you stick to a few basic principles when choosing an online letting agent, you can’t go that far wrong:
- Use an online agent that markets on Rightmove and/or Zoopla
- Use an agent that gets your property live on all the major property portals quickly
- Use an agent that offers in-house customer phone support, so they can be easily contacted
Many online agents offer the above.
Remember, the likes of Rightmove does all the hard work; they get all the eyes on your property. The online agents job is to put your property onto Rightmove and connect the landlord with the enquiries (which almost all of them do). They pretty much ALL advertise on the same portals. But let’s be real, you only really need your agent to market on Rightmove, Zoopla, and arguably Gumtree.
Upad is worth every penny, and they have a good reputation because of it. They maybe one of the most expensive online letting agents out there, and consequently that does frequently raise questions, but they do offer a premium service, and in comparison to most high-street agents they still charge chump-change.
If you’re new to this game and/or would feel more comfortable with the extra support which many other online agents won’t provide, Upad is definitely a wise choice. They will do you no wrong. The quality of their customer service alone is worth paying the extra for. As said, they thrive off repeat custom, and I’m sure it’s down to quality service.
However… ultimately, I don’t think you need a ‘Upad-budget’ if your primary objective is to purely generate enquiries from prospective tenants, other online agents can deliver the same results for less. Perhaps Upad will be more than you need if you’re an experienced and seasoned landlord.
I would happily use an alternative £50 online letting agent (half of what Upad charge) to generate enquiries, but on the same token, I wouldn’t begrudge digging a little deeper to benefit from the reassurance of Upad’s overall service. End of the day, anything is better than paying high-street rates.
Finally, I’d like to thank Upad for 1) inviting me down to Upad HQ and being wonderful hosts 2) supporting my blog (I think they support it anyways) 3) providing all of my readers with discount codes! Enjoy!