Tag Archive: Letting Agent

George F. White Agency: A New Beginning

This year, we made the decision to introduce a complete property management service across all of the George F. White offices. Sheryl Sowden, Head of Residential Agency, and Donna Cheney, Head of Lettings, explain the reasoning behind the decision and the benefits to our clients.

Agency

Historically, George F. White’s agency team have offered both residential sales and residential lettings services, however, for the past four years, GFW Letting, a dedicated property management branch of the group, ran residential lettings in Northumberland and Newcastle. The GFW Letting business model has been a phenomenal success therefore; we took the decision to introduce a centralised lettings and property management service to the George F. White brand in order to complete our all-inclusive offering, meaning that we now have dedicated lettings and property management teams in our Wolsingham, Barnard Castle and Bedale offices.

Not only does the introduction of an expert lettings and property management team in these offices benefit our overall service offering, it presents attractive and innovative opportunities to our clients. The prospect of our residential agency and residential lettings team working side by side opens many doors, particularly in regards to knowledge sharing and best practice. Inevitably, we strive to ensure that our clients get the best from their investment, whether that be when they are buying, selling or letting a property.

Sheryl Sowden said: “A prime example of how the two markets go hand in hand, in particular for clients, is to look at reluctant landlords. This is perhaps somebody that has inherited a property that they want to sell but the market won’t accommodate it for various reasons. We have the facility to advise and offer an alternative option within the same branch, with the same trusted advisors. As vacant properties no longer receive any council tax discounts the owner is liable for those charges, and the longer the property is empty those costs actually increase. In addition to this there is the cost of heating the property to ensure that there is no deterioration of condition, meaning that property owners are losing money unnecessarily. In this case we would look into introducing a tenant in order to take the financial weight off the client’s shoulders in the short or long term.”

“If a client ideally wants to market their property for sale whilst it is tenanted, so long as there is good communication between the management team, tenant and sales team this process can also work very successfully, but transparency and a good relationship are critical. This is also facilitated extremely well if the process is managed by one company working closely together”.

Thanks to both our residential agency and lettings teams being housed under the same roof, our clients are dealing with the same people, but the individual that has the most relevant expertise, they receive the same level of service from beginning to end. Buying, selling or letting a property is an extremely significant financial and emotional investment, therefore, professionalism, transparency and trust from all parties is key.

Donna Cheney said: “Now that we have a Head of Lettings and a Head of Residential Agency, we’ve found that it has enhanced our communication and our understanding of how the sectors are increasingly overlapping. A progressive understanding of each area has allowed us to identify our business objectives as well creating a diverse, attractive and innovative service offering for our clients.  We are extremely positive about the future opportunities that this integration and cooperation affords us and our clients.”

For more information, contact your local team or find out more about what we can offer here.

 

Honestly? Choose your agent wisely…

The buy-to-let sector is a thriving industry. Becoming involved in the private rented sector is a serious business. Landlords need to ensure that they’re able to find and retain good quality tenants and handle maintenance and repairs issues efficiently. Choosing the right agent to guide, advise and support them in a way that helps them to best manage such situations, and create a profitable property portfolio, is therefore vital.

agent

There are so many inadequate and, at best mediocre, agents out there. They’ll agree to market and manage properties on behalf of landlords but don’t provide the service behind this, which is the most important aspect. Agents will simply put a property on the market with no plan, or even discussion with the landlord, about how it would market better and, essentially, be leased much quicker at a rate the landlord desires. Questions every landlord should ask themselves include:

  • Has your property been on the rental market for more than a few weeks?
  • Has your agent discussed how your property could be more attractive to potential tenants?
  • Have they had an honest discussion with you about the wear and tear of your investment and whether it’s time to make some improvements, so that it can be tenanted quicker and potentially let out at a higher rate?
  • Are you an out of area landlord who has rarely or never seen your investment?

Honesty is the best policy

Being honest with landlords and upfront about the improvements they need to make in their properties, to secure tenants and a good return on investment, is something all agents need to do but many simply don’t.  A rental property needs some TLC every now and then and we recommend a landlord budgets for allocating 10% of their annual rental income back into the property for its upkeep such as decorating, new flooring, and furnishings where required.

Unsatisfied landlords often get in touch with us to appraise their properties that have been on the market a while. When appraising them, we have discovered some very basic issues that can be fixed easily. For instance, some are dirty, or need painting, or are overpriced for the current market. I recall one visit to an apartment recently which had been on the market for three months with no interest from viewers.

Following our assessment of the property, we advised the landlord to complete a deep clean and carry out some minor decoration work, which all cost less than £200. Within two weeks, after we had put it back on the market, we secured tenants on a 12-month lease. This landlord lost over £2000 due to no occupancy, which could have been avoided if the right agent advice was given from the outset.

If an agent is not honest with you about current market trends, the condition of your property, or the correct rental amount, then they are costing you money in terms of a void period and the monthly outlay of Council Tax on your vacant property.

At George F. White, we are focused on providing a professional, friendly but ultimately honest service, ensuring landlords are given the best advice to let out their property, even if it involves spending some money upfront, so that their property stands out among the rest in a fast moving, highly competitive sector.

For an honest conversation about your property contact Leanne Emerson on 01833 690390 or email leanneemerson@georgefwhite.co.uk

How to choose a letting agent

The market for renting out residential property has dramatically expanded in recent years with the very strong growth of buy-to-let and the increasing popularity of rental property as a long term investment.

Most landlords will appoint an agent to handle the rental and the choice is extensive. There are considerable numbers of letting agents and the majority of estate agencies operate letting divisions. Given that the agent will be responsible for important long-term financial and legal matters, it is absolutely vital to choose the right one as letting agents are unregulated and there are limited statutory standards set out for service or for fees.

  1. Letting agent location
    It makes sense to use a letting agent that is located in the same area as the rental property. Some landlords prefer to use agents who are members of a trade or professional body such as ARLA Propertymark (formally the Association of Residential Letting Agents) or NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme) because they should be following codes of professional conduct and have proper guarantees in place to protect landlord and tenant monies.
  2. Choose the service level
    Most letting agents offer at least two varying levels of service. Tenant-find only means that the landlord will be undertaking the day-to-day management of the letting. Full Management means the agent takes care of everything to do with the letting from start to finish and will only involve the landlord if something out of the ordinary needs their decision. For new or less experienced landlords, full management is often the service level of choice for peace of mind.
  3. Paperwork
    A competent and professional letting agency will handle all the paperwork involved in a letting. They will take up references on new tenants, carry out credit-checks, confirm the tenant’s employment details and check that the tenant has the right to reside in the UK. The agent will draw up the tenancy agreement and collate the required gas and electrical safety certificates. Agents can also obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property. This must be given to any prospective tenant.
  4. Marketing, advertising and rent
    A property without a tenant will cost you money, so make sure the letting agent will be pro-active in finding a good tenant as soon as possible. Check that the agent is listing properties on a main internet portal such as OnTheMarket.com and Righmove.co.uk. Find out if they already have tenants on their books who will be interested in the property. To get you the best return, letting agents will advise on what level of rent can be expected for a property and will be able to show you details of similar properties that have let for a similar figure.
  5. Complying with deposit law
    If you choose the full management service from an agent, they should be able to deal with matters concerning the deposit that is paid by the tenant at the start of the tenancy. This money, which is usually equivalent to 4 or 6 weeks’ rent, is held by the agent on behalf of the landlord as a safeguard against the tenant causing damage to the property. By law, such deposits must be registered with a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Ask the agent for details of the scheme they use and for confirmation that the deposit has been registered.
  6. Safety legislation
    There are a number of pieces of legislation in place to protect the safety of tenants. The agent should ensure that the property complies with the rules. In particular, a property with a gas supply must have an annual maintenance check and a Gas Safety Certificate provided by a qualified gas engineer. Any soft furnishings at the property must comply with Fire Safety regulations. Professional letting agents will advise on all compliance. Whilst good letting agents will handle these matters, the legal responsibility remains with the landlord.

There are several other aspects to consider when having a property fully managed by an agent and it is wise to understand the ins and outs of exactly what your letting agent will handle on your behalf, prior to instructing them. If you are thinking of letting your property please feel free to speak to our friendly and professional teams at your nearest office:

Lorna Morris– Alnwick, Northumberland – 01665 511989
Lindsay French – Wolsingham, County Durham – 01388 529579
Victoria Linsley – Barnard Castle, County Durham – 01833 690390
Sheryl Sowden – Bedale, North Yorkshire – 01677 425301

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