A few months ago I successfully used the Upad.co.uk platform to advertise a vacant rental property across the UK’s biggest property portals (e.g. Rightmove) in an attempt to find tenants quickly and cost effectively. I was extremely happy with their product and service. Shortly after blogging about My Experience With Upad, a rival company, Discount Lettings, got in touch and kindly invited me to trial their service next time I needed to find tenants. They believe they offer the best product on the market. Oh, I do love competitiveness. Granted, i’d prefer it if it two women fighting over me in a tub of jelly, as opposed to two online letting agents striving to be the best. Quite a contrast.
What do these online tenant finding websites do?
Websites like Discount Letting are able to get your vacant BTL properties onto property portals like Rightmove and PropertyFinder. If you want to get massive exposure to your vacant BTL, those are the websites you want your advert on.
The problem with those websites is that they don’t deal directly with private landlords, they only deal with letting agents. Consequently, an individual landlord can’t just go directly onto one of those websites and market their property. Fortunately, such things as online letting agents (e.g. Discount Letting) exist, and they act as a gateway, allowing landlords to upload their property onto those portals.
These “gateway” sites allow landlords to upload their properties onto their own site, and then they will export the property details, along with hundreds of others they are currently marketing, onto the bigger portals.
Most high street agents use websites like Rightmove and Findaproperty to market their properties, and a lot of the times, that’s where they get their leads from. So actually, by using one of these “gateway” websites, you’re harnessing one the strongest marketing tools a high street agent uses.
Most of the gateway websites charge an average fee of £50-£60 to distribute your property onto the bigger sites, which is still extremely cost effective in comparison to using an agent.
Here’s a full list of Websites landlords can use to get their property on the biggest portals online.
Definitely use one these gateway services if you want save a shit load of money and don’t mind meeting, greeting, handling the enquiries and taking the viewings yourself.
My thoughts on, and experience with DiscountLetting.co.uk
They offer 3 packages, each package offering the same service, just differ by duration. In my opinion, if you’re offering a half-decent property that isn’t situated in the middle of nowhere, you shouldn’t need to market your property longer than 2 months.
Did I find tenants using Discount Lettings?
Hell yeah. I found tenants with in 2 days. That’s a new record for me.
I was actually getting annoyed by the amount of enquiries I was receiving (not a bad position to be in). Between 24 – 28 September, I received 9 viewing enquires, which involved constant phone calls.
I had never received so many solid enquiries in such a short space of time. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the “Rightmove Plus” feature, hence why it’s a feature worth highlighting.
What I liked about Discount Letting
They provide some great tools, which are all accessible from the dashboard when you login to your account, such as tenant credit checks, a whole pile of legal documents, including Tenancy Agreements. Also, the two premium packages come with a “rental report” feature, which will give you a report on what your property should be priced at. I’m not sure how they get the data, but I assume they access the average rates currently being achieved in the area for similar properties. Pretty useful, especially if you’re being an idiot and overpricing your property.
Every time a prospective tenant enquires about your property, Discount Letting notify you by both email and SMS. SMS notification is a very neat feature, especially for those that don’t have smart phones that can access emails. So, you don’t have to wait until your lunch break, or until you get home to check your email for enquiries. The contact name and number of the enquiry is sent to your phone so you can contact them immediately.
If ever I had any issues or questions, I would just fire an email to my contact, and I always received a prompt and informative response. I love customer service like that. I couldn’t fault it.
What I disliked about Discount Letting
Uploading the property details
We approach the Achilles heal of their operation as far as I’m concerned.. Uploading a property was a bit of a uphill struggle. I mean, it wasn’t necessarily difficult, but in comparison, I thought Upad’s interface was a lot clearer and more user-friendly.
Discount Letting have this odd form which opens, closes and jumps up and down. It’s hard to describe, but it felt uneasy and a bit too animated. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if users abandoned the sign up process because of it.
Even though they only require you to fill in one form to upload a property, they make it hard work, and I felt like I filled in half a dozen forms because of all the opening and closing boxes.
K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Stupid.
I ran into a few bugs, one of which I reported, some of which I didn’t. The bug I did report got fixed immediately, which was cool. But I saved a few for this blog post. I guess I’m a bastard like that.
The majorly deformed green circle highlights how the payment web page gets all fucked on the payment form. Everything in the left hand column kinda looks broken (because it is) and goes off the screen. It doesn’t look like anything serious, just alignment issues with the HTML/CSS code. However, it probably doesn’t enforce much confidence when the page you’re meant to enter your credit card details on goes all crazy. I’m sure the security isn’t compromised because of the misalignment, it’s just cosmetic.
The purple circle highlights quite a serious navigational issue. When you click on the “tenant find service”, it SHOULD divert you to a page on the Discount Letting website, but if you look at the address bar at the bottom, you can see it goes somewhere completely different – onto a different website, that has nothing to do with Discount letting. It’s actually the website that processes Discount Lettings online payments.
I’m sure these issues will get rectified shortly after the Discount Lettings folk read this blog post :)
No Pause button
This is also a problem I experienced with the Upad service, and I suspect all the other platforms offering a similar product. A few other people actually mentioned this already, so I’m not the only one noticing it. There is currently no “pause” button, and there needs to be. Right now!!!!
A pause button would be useful in an event of a deal collapsing. For example, I may have found a tenant, so I may want to stop the advert to prevent further enquiries coming through. However, for many reasons, deals don’t always work out because the tenant/landlord may change their mind. So the landlord may need to try and find a tenant again. Currently, you can’t pause an advert, all you can do is completely terminate an advert. If a deal collapses after terminating an advert, I would have to pay another fee to get the same property listed again. Just seems unfair and a waste of money to have to do that. These should be a pause/unpause feature so you can relist the same property. Obviously certain restrictions would need to apply, so landlords don’t start taking the piss by trying to scam the system, but that’s easy enough to implement.
If I have to sleep with someone overweight and repulsive to get this feature implemented, I will. Anything for the greater good of the people. Plus, I may enjoy it, so we all win.
Cancelling the advert
I spent about 30mins navigating around in the user dashboard, trying to find the “cancel advert” button. I eventually gave up and embarrassingly emailed Discount Letting, enquiring how to terminate my advert because I had found tenants. I felt embarrassed because I assumed the feature to cancel was accessible by the landlord, I just couldn’t find it.
It turned out that the only way to cancel an advert is by emailing them, and there is no cancel button in the user dashboard. That’s extremely poor implementation and seems old fashioned in my opinion! It’s such a basic and obvious feature. I’d be interested to know why that feature is missing- there must be a reason.
Would I pay to use Discount Letting?
This is a no-brainer. Yes, I would pay for the service.
Even though it was a struggle to load my property and the userability/interface has yet to be desired, the results I received more than compensated. Additionally, the customer service was excellent, and they offer a few features that no other platform of its kind offer (from what I’ve noticed) e.g. free credit checks, the rental report and the SMS notification. The pile of legal documents available is also a great addition.
Discount Letting offer very cool and unique features which can potentially make them the best in the market. However, until they address the issues I highlighted, I don’t think they’re quite there yet.
Thanks to Discount Letting
I’d like to give a big thank you to Discount Letting for giving me the opportunity to try out their service. I’d especially like to thank the Managing Director, Daniel Burgess. I’ve spoken to him on a few occasions, and I can genuinely say he’s 100% committed on customer service and customer satisfaction.
The best way to find tenants
I would recommend that EVERY landlord uses a combination between a website like Discount Letting and the FREE landlord marketing services I’ve mentioned, to find tenants.
For a complete guide on how to find tenants without a letting agent, you may want to purchase my Ebook – Death Of The Agent, The Ultimate Guide On Finding Tenants without An Agent.
Has anyone used Discount Letting or any other similar service?
If anyone has used any other service like Discount Letting, or even Discount Letting itself, please tell me how it worked for you.
By the way, does anyone plan on using a website like Discount Letting in the future?
I’d just to clarify, just because Upad and Discount Letting both worked for me by generating enquiries, it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone!!