One very careful consideration that should be made when investing in property for the first time is to choose the best letting agent for the job. If you are new to the property rental realm, you may not be aware of what signs to look for that tell you the agent you’re considering is the right one for you.
Narrowing the List
Because there may be many letting agents in your area, the ideal number to shorten your list of potentials to is three. Once you’ve done this, you are in a position to ask some pertinent questions that will allow you to choose the right agent for the job.
Look at Let Boards
Some may say that the more Let Boards an agent has under their belt, the better. This could be indicative that an agent has skills that allow them to find tenants fast. However, it could also mean that they are willing to put any Tom, Dick or Harry into their Client’s property just to earn a quick letting fee. Tenant selection is of vital importance to the success – or otherwise of property investment. You need to establish the protocols of a letting agent before you make your choice.
When searching for the best letting agent, you may want to consider calling them as a tenant. This can answer many questions for you, such as their methods and treatment of clients. You may find that one letting agent will get your number and be back in touch, whilst another may recommend that you view a property. You can ask what charges are levied on applicants and decide whether these would put you off renting through that agent. Calling an agent can definitely help you to choose one.
Another way to test a potential agent is to visit their offices. Being able to physically see their work space can also be a good way to discern many things. The working environment has a large impact on the job any employee does, and so it’s important to ensure that the environment is both productive and positive.
Letting Agents are now required, by law, to publicise their fees and charges. Care needs to be taken; a low commission may seem attractive on the face of it but many agents then make extra charges for virtually every aspect of the management process. Do they take a percentage from contractors employed to carry out repair? You should establish what additional charges are passed on to the tenant as these may deter the best tenants from renting through them.
Which organisation an agent is registered with can also help you decide about hiring them. For instance, an agent registered by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) must adhere to strict codes of conduct. They must also carry insurance, both for their client’s money and themselves.
RICS is a professional body that accredits professionals within the land, property and construction sectors worldwide. Members, such as ourselves that hold RICS qualifications may use the following designations after their name: MRICS (Member), FRICS (Fellow), AssocRICS (Associate).
The Importance of Registration
There is no mandatory regulation for letting agents and there has been a significant rise in the number of firms entering the market in recent times. Many do not have any recognised professional qualification or formal training. Members of the RICS have to undergo rigorous professional examination and must work under the supervision of a Chartered Surveyor before they can qualify. The process usually takes a minimum of five years. They then have to undertake a programme of continued professional development every year to ensure that they are up to date with the latest legislation and best practice. If you choose a letting agent who holds membership of the RICS you will be assured that they will place your interest above everything else. Repairs can be specified and supervised by a Chartered Surveyor without having to rely on the word of a jobbing builder. Savvy tenants know that if the letting agent holds a professional qualification, then they will be treated fairly and will be drawn to them – hence there are benefits all round. After all, if you were ill, you wouldn’t go to see a doctor who was not qualified would you?