How to choose an agent

When it comes to deciding which agent to use there can be a bewildering amount of choice. You only have to search Rightmove to see the volume of agents that operate in the UK.

The aim of this short guide is to provide you with some principles that should help you create a good shortlist of agents to speak to.

Which agents have similar properties to let?

Firstly, get a feel for who is active in your local market. Spend some time searching the internet as if you were a tenant looking for a property like yours.

You want an agent that has experience in your type of property as they will generate tenants for similar properties that they can then take to yours. How good are they at presenting the properties that they are currently marketing?

Using Rightmove is a great way of comparing the quality of photos, descriptions, floorplans, and rents of different agents. It is also recommended that when you search for ‘properties to rent’ on Rightmove you include “let agreed” properties so you can see which agents are letting similar properties to yours.

Make a list of the agents you would like to talk to

An easy way to do this is to set up a MyRightmove account and save the properties that you think are marketed effectively with great photos and clear descriptions. You can then start to have an idea of how you would like your property marketed.

TIP: An interesting exercise is to see which agents have a strong local presence:

  • Which of the brands do you recognise?
  • Who do you perceive to be the market leaders and which are the up and coming brands?
  • How many local agents can you name off the top of your head?
  • Do you have any local landlord friends? Who do they use and why?

There are also different types of agents: large corporates, smaller independents, lettings specialists. Try and shortlist an agent or two in each category so that you have a broad spectrum to choose from.

Once you have a shortlist of 4-6 agents it is worth having a conversation with each of them over the phone. The first thing to try and avoid is talking about fees straight away. It is very easy for this to be the differentiator but it is much more important to get a sense of which agents you intrinsically trust the most first.

Speak to the office, make it clear that you are a landlord and that you have a property available soon and you are deciding on which agent to use. Treat the conversation like an interview and make a note of the answers to the following questions.

Questions to ask the agent:

  • How is the lettings market locally?
  • Which properties have they recently let that are similar to yours?
  • How long did they take to let?
  • How many viewings does it take on average to let a property?
  • What do they do to proactively generate viewings?
  • What sort of prices are they achieving at the moment?
  • How many negotiators do they have in the office and how are they paid?
  • Will you have one point of contact?
  • Where is their property management team based?
  • What type of tenant do they envisage renting your kind of property?
  • What do they include in their marketing? Professional photos? Floorplans?
  • Do they include any enhanced marketing on Rightmove such as Featured Property or Premium Listing?
  • Which redress scheme do they belong to? The Property Ombudsman, The Property Redress Scheme, or The Ombudsman Services: Property are the three government approved schemes.
  • Do they use a Client Money Protection scheme? If so, which one?
  • Do they belong to any trade bodies such as ARLA or UKALA?
  • Can they provide any landlord testimonials?