Why Is Upad More Expensive & Are They Worth It?

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 £50 discount voucher. Details & link in the box below.

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:

upad-pricing

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 £50 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.

I also asked their marketing Director for an official statement on why YOU should choose them, this is what they came back with…

Upad is the online agent created by landlords, for landlords. They won Best Online Agent at the ESTAS 2017, which was voted for by customers who gave an overwhelmingly positive response of Upad’s services and savings. Landlords should use Upad if they’re looking to avoid £1000’s in high street letting agent fees but with a personal touch that allows them to contact their own personal Account Manager. All Account Managers at Upad are ARLA qualified and available 7 days a week. As well as being a member of ARLA, Upad are also the only online letting agent that are a recognised supplier of the National Landlord Association.

Landlords who are looking to further develop their knowledge of letting property can use Upad’s plethora of free information and knowledge in the form of articles, guides, tax and legal advice, webinars and more. Upad make it easy for landlords to keep all their details in one easy to use console and means the next time they need to advertise, they simply click a button. Upad offers landlords a better way to let.

Are you convinced?

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:

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.

Conclusion

Upad is worth every penny, in my opinion. They maybe one of the most expensive online letting agents out there, which does often 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!

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10 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Daz 24th July, 2012 @ 11:22

Make that £80! And if you include tenant charges, the saving is even greater - we only charge £20 per reference vs. £50 on UPad.

We believe OpenRent are offering higher levels of service, at a much lower price point. How? We're automating most of the service without compromising on quality.

With our digital contract, referencing, and deposit handling services we've empowered first time landlords without charging them LA style fees. £20 - that is all.

As we grow, we'll continue to push prices *down* for additional services, as well as offer more to landlords. The future of lettings is almost certainly in technology, and we believe a technology company will be at the heart of it!

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Guest Avatar
Tom 24th July, 2012 @ 16:07

First of all, long time listener, first time caller, hats off to angry landlord for this blog, which saved me a huge chunk of money and saved me from dealing with letting agents. I am a first time landlord and just completed on my first BTL. Before I found that blog, I had no idea that one can circumvent greedy and incompetent sleazebags in Primark suits trying to get 10-15% commission on annual rent for doing f\/ck all. I used another online agent you recommended, lettingaproperty.com because I liked them picking up the phone and shortlisting tenants before emailing/texting me the enquiry, rather than upad's model where they just give landlord's number (please correct me if I misunderstood the way they work). The former allows me to contact tenants when it suits me, rather than tenants calling me when I am driving or when I am at work. Within 5 business days of the ad going live I had more than a dozen enquiries , I referrenced one couple and they signed the dotted line. No problems whatsoever, excellent customer service from lettingaproperty.com, will definitely use them (or another online letting agent) again. I recommend this route to every landlord instead of paying high street agents - unless perhaps you have single digit IQ (in that case you shouldn't be a landlord) or live hundreds of miles from your BTL - in that case, save yourself from ulcers, sell it and buy something closer. Again, thanks a lot for the blog and valuable info - I used your affiliate link, you fully deserve the commission!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 24th July, 2012 @ 20:11

@Daz
As said, I look forward to using your service in the near future. I'm curious to see how far £20 can get me! I can see how automating would reduce costs. However, I think they'll always be a place for customer service (e.g. someone available on the phone), and that's something that can never be automated; and building a good CS system doesn't come cheap.

Do you currently have someone manning the phone to take the enquiries? How are all your enquiries handled?

If you genuinely deliver the service you say you do for £20, then you've got my vote.

3
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 24th July, 2012 @ 20:24

@Tom

Great comment, thanks for sharing! Really pleased my rambles/experiences have helped you.

lettingaproperty.com is without a doubt a superb platform (up there with the best of them, in my opinion), and they're definitely one of the online agents I'm talking about when I mention a cheaper alternative to Upad that's able to deliver.

I agree with everything you said; their system is great (especially the way they handle enquiries, as you said), as is there customer service. In fact, I remember when I used their system, it was tough to fault it.

I wouldn't hesitate recommending their service to anyone.

Thanks again!

4
Guest Avatar
Daz 24th July, 2012 @ 20:56

@The Landlord - Yes we have people manning the phones 6 days a week. We need to do this to handle phone enquiries and respond to tenant enquiries. Whilst this requires some labour, it's not so intensive - Our system handles all the admin of actually sending SMS and Emails to landlords and tenants.

Regarding enquiries, we have a similar model to what Tom describes. We process tenant leads, and if the tenant wants to arrange a viewing, we provide the landlord with their details. This ensures the viewing goes smoothly - whilst we take care of the admin burden faced with simply publishing the landlords number (ie. being available on the phone to answer simple queries).

Further to this, it means that if a landlord doesn't want to, they don't have to give the tenants their phone number OR email address. Our system can mask both.

I'm a computer scientist at heart, not a letting agent, so our focus is on letting the technology doing the hard work wherever possible. Customer service is not one of them however - we still answer queries by phone, email, and online through our live chat box throughout www.openrent.co.uk.

As I keep saying, we look forward to seeing what you think! Whether it's a critique of the layout/readability, or the service itself, we're all ears. We're certainly not fully complete, or 100% polished yet, but we're hopefully moving in the right direction all the time...

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Guest Avatar
George 26th July, 2012 @ 16:01

Anybody have any thoughts on how long this can last?

If the industry becomes a real threat to highstreet agents (the portals bread and butter) then there will have to be casualties online. Sites like Upad are already treading thin ice.

Simply reselling Rightmove's services (which is all that most online agents actually do) is a breach of the portals T's & C's. The automated SMS systems that many online agents use would also seem to breach the data protection act (think how easy it would be to harvest landlord details for example).

I do not doubt that Rightmove know this. Whilst they are happy to take subscription fees from the multitude of online agents out there at the moment, I suspect that any sign of market consolidation (merger or acquisition) will blow the wheels off this gravy train and online agents will be removed, or made irrelevant by allowing landlords to list their own property directly.

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Guest Avatar
Mark 27th July, 2012 @ 11:05

The price will only remain at £20 while they have a small number of properties. The more properties, the more rightmove charge, and it goes up exponentially!

While some of the online agents are definitely not 'real' agents, some are.

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Guest Avatar
damian proLL 10th September, 2012 @ 13:04

Hi All

I use another company called I Am The Agent (www.iamtheagent.com), which I believe is fast becoming a brand leader in the online market. They have traditional agencies (shop fronts)with fixed fees and the online service at £99 inc VAT with a board. What I like about these guys is they are actually agents, property managers and very experienced rather then the virtual agent (usually some techy) or a RECEPTIONIST!?

The service is fantastic and I have to say for me it works better then the UPAD service who literally give out your number to enquirers/anyone, whereas these guys field all enquiries and stay in touch weekly on advances, they even gave me a courtesy call when leads weren't being generated (as I had been a bit greedy with the price ;)... Anyway just thought I would mention them as I am really satisfied with their service. I have 20+ property.

You may want to give them a visit...

PS. Love your blog never fails to put a smile on my face!!!

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Guest Avatar
George 10th September, 2012 @ 16:07

There are already 'bricks and mortar' agents doing this for a lot less than £99 (Visum and Landlord Direct spring to mind).

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ruphilyn 17th October, 2012 @ 12:10

For me this Upad sounds good and it also depends on how will you use it.

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