Our first challenge was to find the right people who would enjoy living at our place but who foremost will look after it in our absence. Our first port of call were our friends and then friends of friends. We really hoped that we would find somebody who we know and trusted to rent our place. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
After a month of fruitless searching for somebody “we know and trust” we decided to advertise our place online. We were certain we didn’t want to use high street estate agents. After doing extensive research of what they offer in terms of service and protection for landlords and what they charge for it we knew that we would be able to do a much better job ourselves with a little help from online real estate agencies. That also gave us a huge advantage of being totally in control of who we let into our property which was something very important to us.
After a bit of research on which online estate agent to use (there are many of them these days) we decided on MakeUrMove as they offered a 21 day free trial period which meant no fee for us using them if we found someone in the first 3 weeks.
All online Real Estate sites work on a similar principle: for a fee they advertise your property across all property platforms like Zoopla, Prime Location, Rightmove, etc. If there is an enquiry, they forward the details of the tenant to the landlord who deals with it. The landlord (us), answer all their questions.
We put our property on the market at the beginning of July hoping that this way we will manage to secure a tenant quickly and easily enough. Unfortunately, we had very little interest in the first 3-4 weeks of advertising which was very stressful for me. And those who did view the property either didn’t like it or we were not keen on having them. After the beginning of August I decided to use a high street agent. I contacted Andrew Reeves, Mann & Edmund are a few others. After short 'over the phone' chat I invited them over to talk through what they offered and what they charged for their services. I was very honest with them and said that I currently advertised through online agencies and intend to continue to do so. However, I’m going to hire one of them for a maximum period of 2 weeks to find me a suitable tenant. The premise for this being that they had a reserve of people ‘ready to go’ that they could show around the property. The fees were ridiculously expensive compared to doing it yourself online - on average 3 weeks rent + VAT. We decided on Andrew Reeves in Bromley who offered us a flat finding tenant fee of £1,000 and that was the cheapest of them all!
I was happy with them and communication we had. If I had to suggest for somebody who is hesitant to go via online agency or solo I could recommend them.
For us however (without first realising that) hiring a high street agent and continuing to advertising via online Real Estate Agents was a very good strategic decision. We ended up having two tenants (one found by us, one by Andrew Reeves) who competed against each other. That resulted in achieving a rental amount that we were after.
So after almost 6 weeks from when we advertised our home and with only two weeks to go before our departure we had managed to secure a tenant.
One thing that any landlord must never forget is to buy landlord insurance. What is worth considering is to join the National Landlords Association. They are an industry body that can advise on many issues, keeps you up to date with all the relevant property legislation and protects landlords. Other websites that I found useful were:
If you have more detailed questions on how to use online agencies or being a landlord, please do get in touch or leave a comment and I will be happy to answer them – I’m happy to help.