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Sunday, 22 July 2018
DIY property portals are nothing new for either sales or rentals — estimated to have just five per cent of the market. The latest Airbnb-style online marketplace, HomeRenter, is just one.
But watch out as you’ll be taking a leap of faith if you choose to rent or let this way.
Henley’s local agencies offer professional lettings services for a reason.
Here’s what some of them had to say on the issue.
Christina Smith at Brookstones Property Solutions, Henley’s only dedicated lettings agency, said: “The online services offer just that — ‘a service’ to landlords. The majority of landlords require a bit more from their agent and I think the following phrase quoted from the actual HomeRenter website sums up exactly what landlords will be offered:
“‘I’ve now worked as a HomeViewer conducting viewings for two HomeRenter landlords and found it a great way to top up my income as a part-time worker.’
“I know my landlords would not want someone who is ‘topping up’ their income and working ‘part time’ showing their property.
“As agents and having worked in the industry for many years, landlords rely on and trust our judgement. Landlords are unlikely to receive the back-up and support they need from a cut-price website.
“As an independent and totally committed letting agency we have the expertise and experience to ease our landlords through the rental process.
“There will always be landlords who prefer to deal direct and who don’t want the in-depth service an agency would offer, so this may well suit them.”
James Donigan, director at Penny & Sinclair in Henley, said: “On the letting side there is such a lot of regulation, with a drive towards further regulation, increased standards, higher levels of qualification, etc — which is undeliverable for the types of fees the onliners charge. And of course ‘online’ is a misnomer anyway — we are all online. What it really is, is limited service/DIY.”
Penny & Sinclair lettings manager Charlotte Mellor added: “From a landlord point of view, we offer local knowledge to give advice on best marketing strategy and price ability to offer bespoke service. Online agents will not know the area. We also have the ability to meet and qualify tenants before they move into the property.
“Online agents ask landlords to do their own viewings, so landlords will be showing strangers around their homes and will need to be available during evenings and weekends. Most online estate agents charge a flat fee rather than commission, so they have less incentive to get the best-possible price for the landlord.
“From a tenant point of view, we show properties that the agent has seen directly and can fully advise on the property and features.
“We also have the local knowledge to advise the tenant on amenities which might be relevant to them and there is face to face interaction to give them the confidence they are dealing with a reputable agent.
“As such they can be confident that their deposit will be properly protected and legislation is being followed.”
Adrian Moody, head of lettings at Savills in Henley, said: “Choosing a professional agent with in-depth local knowledge is vital, but when you put your property on the market the ability to reach the widest possible audience is also incredibly important.
“By being able to take advantage of agents that work together in a regional, national and international network, landlords get the best of both worlds and are far more likely to find potential tenants from outside the area as well as those close to home. This in turn helps to achieve the best possible price.
“If you are letting a property, an agent with excellent local expertise will understand how the market is performing and will offer sound advice on value and expectation.
“If you are a tenant it’s important too — especially if you are moving from outside the area, as the agent will be able to provide a wealth of useful information on anything from schools to short cuts, beauty spots to bottlenecks.
“Viewing staff who are specially chosen for their local know-how are also very helpful if landlords are unable to show potential tenants around themselves.
“Additionally, while selling a property online has finality once sold, finding a tenant is just the beginning of a landlord’s lettings experience. The high regulation of the industry means that there are many stages — at which point landlords need the advice of reputable agents with many years of experience.
“The rise of the internet and technology has been a major addition to the agent’s toolkit in recent years, although at its heart estate agency is personal — our job is to match the people that want to let with the people that want to rent and to smooth the lettings process by offering good, practical, relevant, well-informed advice.
“Knowing the county, its quirks, characteristics and wonderful opportunities, is fundamental to what we do.”
Michael Cook, the lettings managing director at Romans, which has its Henley branch in Hart Street, said: “With over 140 pieces of lettings legislation to adhere to, more and more landlords are turning to high street agents to help them effectively manage their property and avoid noncompliance which could result in hefty fines or in the worst case, a jail sentence.
“Using a professional letting agent not only ensures that landlords stay on the right side of the law but also can help with expanding their portfolio and ensuring that their property is marketed at the correct price, maximising their profits.
“All of our letting agents are ARLA-qualified and so adhere to a strict code of conduct and keep up-to-date with the most recent changes to legislation.
“Landlords using high street agents such as Romans will also benefit from our bespoke marketing campaigns, expansive branch network and of course the added extras including our rent guarantee service, landlords’ insurance and many other benefits of a fully managed property portfolio.
“For tenants, renting through a professional agent negates fears over deposit disputes, maintenance issues not being rectified, and gives the added peace of mind that everything is done by the book.
“Renting through a professional agent such as Romans also often comes with benefits for tenants including exclusive Virgin Media deals, contents insurance and other added extras that make your move simple and stress-free.”