Dear Diary #14: Are All Letting Agents The Same?

Are All Letting Agents The Same?

Dear Diary,

I’ve been a proud property owner for 1 entire sweet day… and that’s about as long as I have to savour the sweet taste of home ownership. Time is money after all.

I need to move onto the next phase of this project: rush tenants’ through the front doors so they can start chipping away at my gut-wrenching mortgage and I can officially call myself a landlord. I mean that in the most humble way possible, which I’m sure provides consolation to absolutely no one, least of all renters.

I wonder, who in society is despised more, letting agents or landlords? They both seem to get chased around by folk with pitchforks.

In any case, it’s too late, there’s no turning back for me. I need to find a local letting agent to help find me tenants and manage the tenancy, which begs the question, are all letting agents the same? I sure as hell hope not. Some of the horror stories we’ve all heard are terrifying! “Will stab nan for a fiver”, comes to mind.

The problem with my local area is that there’s an oversupply of letting agents, which makes it difficult to choose which letting agent I should use [to inevitably take me to the cleaners].

I didn’t have the will to scrutinise all the available options, but I could take on three or four of them, and put them through a screening process.

Okay, maybe just three, max.

Here were my initial thoughts on the screening process:

  • Find the three closest letting agents to my property
  • Look through independent reviews of their services
  • Scour through their current stock
  • Compare their fees and packages

Update: Dear Lord, I was stupid as sin back then! I’m looking back at my screening process in 2016 (almost a decade later) and I want to time travel back to this moment and slap myself in the face with a wet dildo! How could I be such a spanner? Here’s how I would choose a letting agent today. No wonder the agent I ended up choosing bent me over and found me the spawn of Satan to be my tenant. True story!

I’ll spare you from the details of the laborious and brain-numbingly boring process I went through to unearth the winner, but just know I chose one based on the screening process. One thing I do want to note though is that almost all the agent’s I contacted were prepared to haggle, especially when I told them I was shopping around and talking to other agents. That nugget of information really seemed to cause a stir.

I ended up getting the follow deal from my now letting agent (everything you’d expect from a managed service, to be honest):

How much did all that set me back? 12% freaking percent of the rent + admin fee of £150!

Why did I opt for a fully managed service? I don’t have a clue how to actually be an active landlord yet, let alone comply with all the regulations. Baby steps!

An agent from the agency popped over to the property this morning to take photos and measurements, and he told me I should be able to achieve £800 per calendar month in rent, which works out to be a 6% yield. Not bad, not great! I’ll take it. He also confirmed what I already knew, that there’s high demand for rental properties in the area so it should get snapped up quickly. He already had people in the books waiting, apparently!

So the million dollar question: what was the agent like? In a word, “typical“; very upbeat and salesy. Talked a lot. Confident. Overpowering aftershave scent. Slick hair. Seemed nice enough.

I wouldn’t trust him with my mum.

But with my property?

The property should be on the market by the end of the day and viewings should commence shortly after.

Wish me luck!

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