The internet is saturated with letting agencies in any local area you look at, with a good mix from letting agency to agency, that you’d have heard of as a child, to up-and-coming ones, proving themselves as being just as capable as the long-established!
Independent Or A Corporate Letting Agency?
What Is The Difference Between An Independent and Corporate Letting Agency?
An independent letting agency usually tends to have 1-5 offices in total and close to each other, although there are many independents with many more offices. Independents are privately owned and mostly owner-run. (like Dyson)
A corporate letting agency on the other hand tends to have a much higher number of offices and employs a larger number of people. They aren’t privately owned, instead, they have a board of directors and shareholders. (like Amazon)
Both types of letting agency can have pros and cons. Let’s explore this whilst remaining unbiased.
CORPORATE LETTING AGENCY
- Established usually for a longer time.
- Divided departments such as marketing, photography, management, customer services, admin, and accounts. These make the initial process efficient for the agent.
- Not flexible. Often, they are very fixed in their way and not easy to make a one-off change if you need it.
- Lack of personalised service. As there are multiple teams overseeing different processes, you will end up dealing with a different person when comes to maintenance, another person for accounts, and another person for management. For example, management of the property will be done from a remote office and not by someone who is local to the area, and it’s extremely unlike they’ve visited your property in the past hence will know only a limited amount about your property from what is presented on paper.
- More expensive. Corporations have shareholders who are after profits from dividends each year hence prices inflate often to keep up with the pressure.
- Slow to adjust. Could be outdated in the way they market and find you a tenant as consumer habits are changing fast each year. A good indication of this is to compare a corporate, against an independent website. Make comparisons of the quality of information given for their properties, the quality of photography, and whether they include videography and floor plans. Preferably 2D and 3D.
- Lack of accountability. Staff are incentivised on getting properties to rent fast, but this can be to the detriment of finding the least hassle tenant as the property management will be carried out by another staff, hence the buck would be passed along and away from the staff member who found the tenant.
Common claims a corporate letting agency can make:
- Corporations claim that having larger marketing exposure leads to a larger audience to show your property to. This isn’t true as corporate and independent agents all advertise on the same portals (websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket etc) and have access to the same pool. The difference is in the execution.
- Corporations claim that more offices equal more exposure. Again, there is nothing to show that this is true. Lettings is a very hyperlocal industry. To say that a tenant looking for a property in London will go to their local agent in Birmingham is very illogical in today’s modern world where 99% of the public will turn straight to the internet to find a property on the portals, or contact an agent based in the desired location to see what’s available. What would you do if you were looking for a property 50 miles away from you, would you contact your local agent or the agent local to the desired location? Most likely the latter.
INDEPENDENT LETTING AGENCY
- Owner run, so higher attention to detail is given at every stage.
- A smaller team means better communication between the team and the client (you) because there aren’t separate teams to do the work.
- Personal service. There is only one point of contact for you regardless of marketing, management, maintenance, or accounting. You only speak with your account manager to solve an issue and no one else.
- Better marketing skills. Independents do a lot to stand out, and this is one area they do well. Compare the marketing quality between the two to see for yourself.
- Higher competence levels and foresight. A negotiator’s job is to rent the property fast. The property manager’s job is to minimise issues and rent arrears. If you have to do both roles, you will think twice about who to choose as a tenant. This brings me to my next point…
- Higher accountability. Each staff knows if they bring on a bad tenant they have to now deal with that tenant until he’s left, hence in their best interest to find the least hassle tenant.
- New start-ups can have a problem with keeping up with the workload, especially if they lack someone senior. However, the ones who have been established for over 5 years tend not to have this problem.
- Maybe a one-man team. Although newcomers deserve to be given a chance, you don’t want that to happen at the risk of falling short on compliance. Make sure the agent knows exactly what they are doing and that they have extensive experience from before. You don’t want your property to be an experiment gone wrong. You want to decide on a company that has at least 3 staff members.
- It may not be well recognised. You will need to see their online presence and their google reviews to gauge their reliability. See what others have to say and what their experience was like with this company.
What Next? Which type of letting agency is right for me?
Well, it’s all down to personal opinion. There isn’t a right or wrong answer and doing the relevant research will help you find what you are after from your property, and the agent marketing it.
When selecting a letting agency, it’s best to go with quality over cost. Compare the services offered to you. Once you’ve done your research see whether you feel the company and the representative is a good fit for you.
Have you seen our “Finding The Perfect Letting Agency Check List“?
It is a really handy checklist with all the non-negotiables that you must have in a letting otherwise you’ll set yourself up for misery. The information in the checklist is whether you choose a corporate on an independent letting agency. Be sure to check it out.