How to choose a good property management agency
You have a property you want to let, or perhaps you have a growing kingdom and decided it’s high time for an appropriate steward to look after it and assist you in making the most of it.
It begins and ends with a question about you: what do you want?
To check if an external company can support your property goals, you need to figure out what they are. If you’d like a few pointers on that subject, check out our blog, some titles may interest you.
In the meantime, here are some pointers on what to look for when choosing the best property management agency for your growing property kingdom. As with any business, there are some ‘must-have’s’ any agency needs to comply with, and there are also some ‘good to have’s’ – features that can add a few points to the overall evaluation of your potential partner. Here’s what we suggest you consider when choosing a good property management agency to work with.
Licensing and insurance
This is not an embellishment, however nice colourful logos of regulatory bodies may look, being able to present them is a mandatory step for every reputable business in our industry. It’s worth noting that letting agents focusing on residential work MUST belong to an accepted redress scheme.
Currently, there are two: the Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme and we belong to the latter. Those memberships encourage the agents’ professional development, champion proper code of conduct and help resolve any disputes so the client can count on additional support.
As you see, those membership sare not only good practice but offer additional peace of mind for both the tenant and the agency, so it’s only logical a reputable agency will join those and be able to present the paperwork if asked. For instance, we are members of the Client Money Protection scheme that ensures landlords and tenants are financially protected. We’ve also signed up to The Deposit Protection Service, which plays a similar role. And our UK Association of Letting Agents membership is proof of our constant and consistent professional development, so you rely on us for up-to-date knowledge. In addition, the list of organisations we are members of is available on our website – easy to find for anyone interested.
Type of property
If you are looking for a partner to assist you in letting a semi-detached 3-bed, there is no point in approaching a company specialising in letting business warehouses. Find one with experience in a type of property you have and see the overlap – they may be even in a position to help you grow your portfolio.
Make sure they know the area you are interested in. It sounds like an obvious thing to ask about – but it is worth checking! A good agent will know what type of property is in highest demand and what you are to expect price-wise. By all means, do your due diligence, but you should be able to rely on their advice.
As the saying goes, it takes a long time to build – and it is worth checking! Review not only testimonials published by the business itself, but review the social channels and browse the internet looking for what people are saying about them. A lack of testimonials may be a warning sign, so it is worth asking for those if you can’t find them easily on their literature and website.
Various agencies out there specialise in different aspects of letting. Some focus on marketing the property and finding tenants, some offer a more comprehensive range of services that may include pre-tenancy checks, management services while your property is occupied and post-tenancy checks. Here’s our example of services arranged in packages to suit landlords’ specific goals [link].
Agencies may also offer advice on improving your property, work with an accountant, mortgage advisor, etc. and open their network of contacts to you, which may be very useful. Especially if you have grand designs regarding your property kingdom. If you want to grow your property portfolio, is your agency going to be able to grow with you and assist you on the way? Ask them about their views on working with long-term clients and what kind of support they can offer. We know our customers enjoy having open conversations about their plans and using us as the extension of their team.
When a boiler fails, it’s an emergency for your tenant. Are you going to respond yourself? Even if it is 11.17 pm on a Friday? And these things usually happen after hours. If you do not want to do this, who can? Does your management agency have a team that will treat your tenants as a priority? Will you be able to count on them to respond quickly, assess the situation, report to you and act accordingly?
We know that those sorts of call-outs used to be a source of headaches for many of our landlords. So, we created an in-house maintenance team to address those issues. Our clients are always on top of the list, whether the emergency happens in the middle of the day or night. Our landlords can rest assured all issues are dealt with and the tenants are happy.
Consider the weight of the responsibility you are prepared to take and find a partner to help you carry that load.
Knowing all the ins and outs of the industry, its legal implications, and the responsibilities landlords must meet is one thing. Being able to communicate it – is another. Ask yourself whether your agency communicates well and can convey all those requirements in a way that is easy to understand and follow. There’s no point in spending time deciphering jargon – there is too much to do in the property world without it!
A contact person
When we researched this subject, we found that our clients consider having one dedicated contact person a real bonus. They enjoy the support of the whole team but have a go-to name and number who knows their case from Adam, so they do not have to explain their history every time. It really speeds things up and makes the whole experience more enjoyable and the conduct professional – even though the relationship is more personal. As your prospective property management agency, what is their style of building relationships with clients and see if it suits your way of working.
Create a shortlist and have a chat with them. Ask around, research and choose the business – and the people – that makes you feel most comfortable and confident. After all, a good property management agency becomes your partner and extended team and can help you become even more successful – so choose wisely.
Here’s a summary of the main points from this article. Use it for your property management agency.
A GOOD PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AGENCY CHECKLIST
My ideal tenant:
- family with kids
- a tourist
- works with the type of tenant I have in mind
- is registered with the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme
- Client Money Protection scheme membership
- The Deposit Protection Service membership
- UK Association of Letting Agents membership
- Other: ………………………………………………………………
- They know the area
- They are well versed in property law and explain things in plain English
- They are working with similar properties
- Have a decent number of positive reviews
- They have a team to help me with call-outs and minor repairs
- Their prices are transparent
- They have a service that fits my requirements
- There is an option of increasing the service level in the future, should I want them to look after more properties
- They can assist me in growing my buy-to-let portfolio
- There’s a dedicated contact person to lead my account
Overall communication style:
- Forward-thinking (they can see the potential of my property and how our cooperation could develop)
- Nice to talk to
- Reply to messages and calls in good time