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High street or online letting agent – or both?

Last updated: 25th March 2020

If you’re a landlord and trying to decide whether to use a high street or online letting agent… this is the million dollar question. Online letting agents have risen in popularity over the years, but do they trump high street letting agents? You’ve come to the right place to find out.

What’s the difference between a high street letting agent or an online letting agent?

Let’s take a look at the cost first. Both high street letting agents and online letting agents will usually charge an initial fee followed by an ongoing monthly percentage of the rent collected on your behalf. This can vary depending on what part of the country you’re in and which agents you decide to shortlist.

While we all want lower costs as landlords, it’s important to check what you’re getting in return for that cost. Will the agent conduct the viewings, does it include photography, or does it include referencing, check-in and inventory?

Many online letting agents say they charge quote lower fees due to lower overheads and scalability, however they might not do everything you’d expect from an agent for the fee that’s shown.

The devil is in the detail. So make sure you check exactly what you’re getting before signing on the dotted line.

If you’re quite hands-on, an online letting agent might be the choice for you. But if you’re time poor, a high street agent or a hybrid letting agent could be the winner.

What’s a hybrid letting agent?

It’s a little bit of both. You get the high street agent service (think personal viewing reps and agents across the country) with the perks of an online agent – lower costs, ease of online transactions and paperless processes. Hybrid letting agents are a great combination of the two.

Is an online or letting agent better at marketing your property because they’re based online?

Quite possibly. But it’s not a given.

High street letting agents have exactly the same tools as online and hybrid letting agents do – it’s how they use them that’s the difference.

The lettings service has become so much more than listing properties on Rightmove and sticking posters in windows. Regardless of whether an agent is online, hybrid or high street, competition is rife – so you’ll now see more professional photography and enticing property descriptions to get those viewings booked in. Video walk-through’s have become commonplace, as have mini-location guides to help tenants imagine what it’s like to live there.

And agents aren’t even focusing on those already looking for property either. Creative ones will have their proactive hats on – they’ll be running targeted adverts across popular platforms and work really hard to drive results on your behalf – so check and see what marketing activities a high street, hybrid or online letting agent can offer you.

So which one should you choose?

It depends. Do you have time on your hands? Do you mind paying an extra for a more personal service? Do you want all the marketing bells and whistles?

As well as your ‘wants’, it’s worth thinking about practicality. For example, you might not live near your property and need assistance with viewings – in which case, a high street agent might be better. But if you prefer to be more active, an online agent might be for you.

And if you’re torn between the two, a hybrid agent is well worth considering.

In theory, any agent could be right for you. It depends what your expectations are.

It’s worth researching your local high street agents to see how they compare against hybrid and online letting agents before making a decision.

If you fancy reading more about letting agents, you can start here.

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