Current OpenRent Special Offer
OpenRent are currently offering a FREE 5 day trial for their tenant-find service, which includes getting your vacant property listed on Rightmove! No strings attached (as the review below explains).
The purpose of this blog post is to provide clarity by answering some FAQs that have been swirling around my inbox recently from fellow landlords, about OpenRent, one of UK’s most popular online letting agents.
OpenRent are currently offering a free trial period, which allow landlords to market their property on Rightmove to find tenants, and understandably that’s got some people confused. An offer like that does sound too good to be true, especially while other agents charge a fee for the same privilege. So it comes to no real surprise that many landlords are suspicious/wary of the offer. The obvious questions have been circulating, is it actually legit? Is there a catch? Will I get bitten by hidden fees? What the hell is going on?!
Instead of replying to everyone individually (which takes more time than I care to lose), I thought I’d quickly whip up a review of OpenRent and their services. Actually, it’s more of an overview, so you know exactly what the deal is.
Ok, so now that’s out of the way, let’s get this show on the road…
The quick demise of most online letting agents
It seems like these online letting agents are popping up all over the place like a bad case of genital herpes, and breeding at excessive rates like farmers back in the 20s.
But in this case, most of them don’t stick around.
Not for long anyways.
I’d say 90% of them burn to the ground in flames after a year or so of trying desperately to capture some market share. But inevitably, the reality of how not-so-easy it is to stay afloat with a model that is under the mercy of the insanely inexpensive fees of the major property portals, which all online agents NEED to market landlords properties on (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla & Gumtree), quickly takes it’s choke-hold on the finances.
Most of those starting-up factor in and absorb the fees with the investment capital, with the intention of eventually gaining enough traction and repeat custom to cover the costs. But tragically, the capital is usually exhausted before making it to the green zone. Why? Because online lettings is bloody hard, mostly because the turnaround for filling a rental property is generally quick, so agents need to be constantly getting new properties in the books! That’s a tall order when you’ve just entered the market and have zero respect, and then the pressure quickly becomes rather exasperating, so often ‘surrendering’ is the least painful way to exit.
In come OpenRent and their ballsy low-costs
The million dollar question…
Is OpenRent a scam? The short answer: NO.
Is the free trial actually “free”… no strings attached… no dodgy small-print? That’s correct.
So I could end up marketing my property on the biggest property portals in the UK (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla and Gumtree etc.) and consequently find tenants without spending a penny, all through OpenRent’s free trial offer? Exactly.
So go ahead and use OpenRent’s free trial.
But if you need more of an explanation, follow me…
OpenRent appeared on my radar back in 2011, when they first entered the market with their very shocking low cost of £20, which included your property being marketed on Rightmove– by far the cheapest offering on the market, and a real threat to their competitors, who were mostly shifting similar packages at around the £50 mark.
Personally, I thought there was a catch or a devastating miscalculation. It just seemed too good to be true.
I speculated that they would topple over like most other agents that tried to grab the market share quickly and aggressively with unsustainable offers, and/or they had scaled back on good and vital customer services to cover their running costs. Either way, the setup looked destined for failure.
5 or so years later… to my surprise (and perhaps to the surprise of other online agents also), OpenRent have left behind a strong trail of positive reviews and are still offering mind-blowing rates that continue to blow the competition out of the water.
I’m not usually one to mince my words or hype bullshit, and you can read many of my other blog posts to certify that claim. So believe me when I say, OpenRent are the real deal, and I haven’t heard a bad word about them from anyone, especially other landlords.
How OpenRent works & their current FREE trial explained
Most of you should already know how online agents work. If not, you can find out the details over here for a complete guide on online letting agents.
Now, let’s take a closer look at OpenRent’s offerings…
The Basic Advertising package- IGNORE IT!
I would personally ignore the “Always FREE” package- even as enticing as “always free” sounds- because that package only markets your property on their internal website. That’s a garbage service as far as I’m concerned, and it’s no surprise it’s free, but I get why it’s there. I’ve already emphasised the importance of marketing vacant BTL properties on Rightmove– and there is no substitute for it.
If you want the best chance of filling your vacant BTL property and finding tenants quickly- get your property on Rightmove. That’s it.
The most popular FREE Trial package
This is the package I get questioned about the most, because it comes with a free trial, yet it remarkably comes with all of the below…
But let explain and clarify for your own peace of mind…
- The trial is for 5 days. Their service and everything listed above is free with in those 5 days.
- After the free trial you do NOT have to pay anything unless you wish to continue using their service (more explained below).
- The free trial is only available to “first time” users. If you have already taken advantage of their services, you will be subject to their £29 fee, which includes the exact same offering as the free trial, but for 3 months (still extremely reasonable).
- Your vacant property WILL get listed on Rightmove, Zoopla & Gumtree (usually with in 24 hours), and believe me when I say that 5 days is generally MORE than enough time to generate a buttload of enquiries… unless you’re trying to shift a piece-of-shit death-trap in the middle of nowhere, that is. But ultimately, you could end up finding tenants without spending a penny during the free trial.
- You’re NOT tied into any contracts, so you won’t be held accountable to pay any fees during the free trial.
- There are NO hidden or extra fees, like extortionate tenancy renewal fees, check-in fees etc!
- You don’t need to enter any credit card or payment details (it’s always sketchy and nerve wracking when free trials require payment details)!
What if I don’t find tenants in 5 days and want to market my property for longer? Ok, good question. Of course, there’s a chance you may not find the perfect tenants with in 5 days.
In this case, you have the option of paying £29 (that includes VAT) to extend their service for an extra 3 months. That’s still currently cheaper than any other online agent offering a similar package. This is the time when you will be required to enter your credit card details.
Advertising & Rent now package, the £49 package
If you want more of a premium service, this is the one for you- it includes all the extras listed in the diagram above. All pretty useful stuff, which takes care of more of the administrative responsibilities (e.g. securing the tenancy deposit). And again, the price really is very reasonable.
I must emphasise though, this package is NOT part of the “Free trial” offering, but you will have the option to “upgrade” to the premium package after the free trial if you wish to extend the service. It’s your call.
How are they able to offer such low prices & still survive?
When something sounds too good to be true, it generally is… we all know that.
But in those rare cases when the offer is true and pure, I need to understand why, don’t you? I literally need to, otherwise I’ll forever be looking for that trip-wire and unlikely to convert into a customer. The looming concern of being caught out by the small-print would definitely wreak havoc.
So to relieve me from my concerns, and perhaps yours too, I’ve spoken directly to one of the co-founders to gain a better understanding of what the hell is going on, and how they’re able to make their business model financially viable under the circumstances. Having heard their side, I’m now informed enough to explain it to you, so you can join the dots for yourself.
They’re able to offer FREE trials and the cheapest rates thereafter (to my knowledge), while not compromising on customer service, because of three main reasons…
- 1) In-house technical skills – one of the biggest costs of starting and running any online service/website is developing and maintaining the technical infrastructure. Fortunately, one of the founding-members of OpenRent is a technical genius, so the only real start-up cost of developing the website was his time (which I’m not devaluing, but there was no hard cash required). So straight away a large portion of that cost was eradicated. That said, they have massively evolved since their start-up days, so they do now have a team of technical-monkeys steering the ship, not just one socially inept geek.
From what I know, most online letting agent founders aren’t website developers, they’re letting agents and/or landlords, so they have to take a HUGE hit on development costs.
- 2) Automation – I guess this is an extension of the above factor, and achieved because of the technical abilities they have at their disposal.
While they do have full-time phone support available and real people replying to emails, their system is extremely automated, meaning less human interference is required, which means less employed manpower.
Now, don’t misconstrue that as a negative, because it’s not. All I’m saying is that they have automated their system so well that there’s very little reason for anyone to pick up the phone and ask for support, because their automated system takes care of most of the operational procedures, and keeps landlords fully in the loop with live status updates.
- 3) Upselling other products – they make a large chunk of change from upselling other products beyond their bread and butter “Tenant find service“, such as drawing up contacts, EPC’s and Gas Safety Checks.
To be honest, most other
online agentsbusinesses do the same. They probably wouldn’t survive without the upsells.
- 4) Great service – they’re so sure their service is spectacular that they’re confident you’ll return to use their service over and over, only you won’t mind paying their regular fees you’ll be subject to next time. Basically, they’ll profit from repeat business.
That all makes sense.
This sounds like a sales pitch!
Believe me, it’s not.
As said, I’m not here to sell anything, and I don’t hype bullshit.
Most online letting agents approach me with an enticing sales pitch, because they want to be added to my list of online letting agents table. I refuse 98% of them (that’s why my list is very limited), even when they try to twist my arm with financial compensation. Unless I understand, use and/or believe they are providing a valuable service to landlords, I’m not interested. That’s the bottom line.
So, go ahead and try OpenRent’s FREE trial if you were unsure, they’re legit.
I’m not actually sure how long the free trial will be available for, but next time you need to find tenants it’s well worth seeing if the offer is still available.
Seriously, do not forget!
Regardless of who or what service you use to find tenants, ensure you ALWAYS do thorough tenant referencing. Referencing is the one area where I recommend every landlord to be most diligent, because allowing poor tenants to slip through the net can be one of most excruciatingly painful experiences.
So, out of genuine curiosity, have you used OpenRent? If so, please provide your feedback below. Similarly, if you’re thinking about using them, or have any questions regarding their service.
Also, please let me know how you get on if you decide to use them.