Posts with tag: lettings

Speed of responding to enquiries should be top priority for agents

Published On: March 30, 2021 at 8:06 am


Categories: Lettings News

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According to The ValPal Network, more than half of vendor and landlord enquiries are made outside of traditional 9 to 5 working hours. It says estate and letting agents need to have the processes in place to respond to leads quickly at any time of the day.

Agents dealing with more out of hours enquiries

The ValPal Network’s analysis of almost 50,000 vendor and landlord enquiries made in December 2020 shows that 57% of the leads were generated outside of traditional 9 to 5 hours. 

Meanwhile, an analysis of over 17,000 leads generated by members of the network in the first week of February shows over a quarter of enquiries were made over the weekend.

Research from The ValPal Network’s nurture tool MovePal shows that 43% of sales valuation leads are generated outside the hours of 9am to 6pm.

Craig Vile, Director of The ValPal Network, says: “With our figures showing around half of vendor and landlord enquiries are now made outside of traditional working hours, agents need to make sure they can provide a flexible, modern service.

“The expedition of homeworking as a result of the pandemic means many people are no longer living to a fixed schedule and consumers will expect agents to respond to their enquiries quickly, no matter what time they are made.”

He says that agents can respond to out of hours enquiries with automated messages to cement the client’s initial interest and show that they have a 24/7 service in place. This can then be followed up by a team member as quickly as possible with the aim of securing a market appraisal.

Craig Vile also adds: “If you don’t respond to all enquiries quickly, you could lose out on an instruction to a competitor who is providing a more streamlined service.”

Instant response can help agencies to build pipelines

The Stamp Duty holiday was recently extended until the end of June, with an additional reduction until the end of September. However, when the tax cut does finally come to an end, The ValPal Networks warns there could be a dip in market activity.

In recent months, as a result of the Stamp Duty holiday and impact of the pandemic, it has noticed that agents have been busier than ever. However, neglecting new business opportunities while trying to push through existing transactions could have a negative impact on business later in the year.

Vile says: “Competition for vendors and landlords is sky high at the moment as stock levels have fallen in recent weeks. Therefore, the ‘speed to lead’ is crucial when it comes to securing future business.

“As well as sending an automated message to acknowledge enquiries, the speed in which agents personally respond to leads is hugely important. Getting on the phone as quickly as possible could be the difference between a new instruction or seeing it go to a competitor.

“Automation is the only way agents can effectively nurture their whole database and successfully identify the optimum moment to interact with prospects to get the best results. This can result in increased efficiency, less wasted time and ultimately more instructions for your agency.”

Communication and record keeping key for resolving agency complaints

Published On: May 11, 2020 at 8:12 am


Categories: Lettings News

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With the potential for a rise in compliance-related complaints due to the impact of coronavirus, communication and record keeping are key, says PayProp.

The lettings automated payment platform highlights that, with new rules protecting tenants from unfair treatment while safeguarding themselves and landlords, agencies will need to prioritise good communication and record keeping.

New rules, new compliance risks

With some tenants having difficulty paying rents and landlords finding it harder to make their monthly buy-to-let mortgage repayments, the government is doing what it can to help. The notice period for evictions has been extended from two months to free and many landlords and tenants have made informal agreements to reduce or defer rent payments temporarily.

Changes to law and rent payment schedules can create space for miscommunication and misunderstanding. This could then lead to a rise in disputes between landlords and tenants as well as complaints against agencies, PayProp says.

Neil Cobbold, Chief Sales Officer at PayProp, comments: “With emergency measures in place and many people’s personal finances affected, there could be more disputes between tenants, landlords and letting agents in the coming months.

“Agencies, therefore, need to keep up to date with the latest government guidance, while communicating clearly and recording all information factually. By resolving disputes calmly and effectively, letting agents can provide a very valuable service to both landlords and tenants.”

Legislative changes to look out for

Cobbold adds that agents will need to be mindful of ongoing legislation changes to reduce the chances of complaints being made against them or their clients.

Last month, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act was extended to cover existing as well as new tenancies. This means that more renters can now take direct legal action if their properties are not up to scratch.

If a landlords’ property fails to meet appropriate standards, they could be ordered by the courts to pay potentially unlimited compensation, carry out compulsory improvements, or both.

On top of this, the Tenant Fees Act is being extended in June to cover tenancies that started before 1st June 2019.

Cobbold explains: “Alongside managing the challenges posed by coronavirus, there remains a significant responsibility on agents to be compliant and help their landlords to meet their legal obligations.

“Receiving complaints not only causes reputational damage – many of the latest pieces of lettings legislation carry significant financial penalties for non-compliance.”

How can agencies minimise the risk of complaints?

Good communication and record keeping will be crucial in the coming months to keep clients happy and reduce the likelihood of complaints.

In practice, this will involve recording changes to payment schedules, maintaining a full and transparent paper trail and keeping all parties up to date with the latest information, Pay. Technological solutions that automate these processes will be particularly valuable at this time, PayProp suggests.

Cobbold concludes: “Poor communication and record keeping are regularly cited as the most common reasons for complaints made against letting agents in The Property Ombudsman’s annual report.

“With the administrative complications caused by coronavirus, this is highly likely to be the same in 2020. That’s why it’s so important for agencies to make sure they do well in these areas in order to protect their businesses and enhance their reputations.”

‘Boris bounce’ took hold in January as landlords flooded the market

Published On: February 17, 2020 at 9:25 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Following the General Election in December, The ValPal Network has noticed a renewed confidence in the property market.

It says the ‘Boris bounce’, combined with the traditional New Year upsurge in activity, created a very fruitful January for estate and letting agents up and down the country.

Fresh data has been gathered from the network of agents, representing over 800 brands with more than 4,000 offices. It shows that it wasn’t just buyers and tenants buoyed by increased market certainty, as there was an increase in prospective sellers and landlords also contacting agents last month.

The figures show that a total of 83,158 leads were generated by agent members from prospective sellers and landlords requesting instant online valuations during January.

This is a massive increase from the 37,400 online valuations leads generated during December.

January’s total is the highest monthly number of online valuation sales leads generated by agents since October 2018 when the figure peaked at 102,999. 

The number of generated leads hovered between 40,000 and 60,000 throughout 2019, demonstrating the significance of January’s figure of almost 85,000.

On an annual basis, last month’s performance was also notably strong, up from 45,565 leads in January 2019, 60,051 in January 2018 and 44,481 in January 2017. 

The announcement from The ValPal Network follows the news that both Rightmove and OnTheMarket received record numbers of website visits in January.

Craig Vile, The ValPal Network Director, says: “Despite reports of increased confidence immediately after the election, it’s clear that January was when the market resurgence really took off with huge numbers of sellers and landlords requesting instant online valuations from our agents.

“The election came less than two weeks before Christmas, so it’s likely many consumers waited until the New Year kicked off before acting on their interest – in many cases after a period of planning and discussion over the holidays.

“This increase in activity from prospective sellers and landlords paired with the rise in visits to the major portals shows people are more confident about market conditions and subsequently more committed to taking action in 2020.”

Vile highlights that for agents to take advantage of this increased activity from the ‘Boris bounce’, they need to have marketing tools in place to keep brands ‘front of mind’ with consumers.

He adds: “Increased demand for agents’ services is undeniably positive news. However, it means competition between agents will intensify this year.

“Therefore, agencies need to make sure they’re doing all they can to get their brand in front of as many potential clients as possible through a combination of prospecting, canvassing, social media and pay per click advertising, content marketing and PR.

“Promoting an online valuation tool through a holistic marketing strategy will help agents to generate more leads and benefit from a resurgent market.”

Marketing tips for letting agents facing advertising board ban

Published On: November 25, 2019 at 9:47 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Local authorities are calling for a ban on ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ boards across the UK. As such, property portal Residential People has highlighted the benefits of digital marketing.

As well as potentially more bans, Residential People believes that many consumers are becoming increasingly disillusioned with advertising boards.

Distaste for boards continues to grow

Advertising boards may have been an effective market tool for many years, but they are arguably less effective in a modern property market. Consumer behaviour continues to shift towards digital solutions.

More local councils are also looking to ban boards in certain areas, following consumer complaints, according to Residential People.

Camden Council recently urged the government to back its request for a borough-wide Section 7 direction. This would see all boards banned unless planning consent is secured.

Boards have been described by the local authority as ‘clutter’ and ‘free advertising’. It has reported receiving over 1,000 complaints about boards from residents over the last five years.

Christopher May, Director of Residential People and its sister company Commercial People, says: “In areas where boards are banned, the decision for agents is already made and they can use the additional marketing budget to focus on innovative digital strategies.

“However, forward-thinking firms who are still able to erect boards should seriously think about reducing their use of boards.”

The power of digital marketing

Residential People argues that a digital-focused campaign can provide agents with a more rounded and effective marketing strategy.

According to the portal’s research, in 1997 when the UK’s first portal Propertyfinder was launched, only 7.39% of the UK’s population used the internet. When Rightmove launched in 2002, 56.48% of the population was using the internet. Fast forward to 2016 and 94.78% of the UK population use the internet. 

The internet is also no longer just for the younger generations, with the proportion of 65-74 year-olds going online regularly rising from 52% in 2011 to 83% in 2019.

May comments: “Agents have an exponentially greater market of all demographics to target than ever before via portals and other online marketing methods, from first-time buyers and second-steppers to landlords and downsizers.

“Digital marketing allows agents to track results effectively and then shift spend, approach or messaging accordingly to get the most out of their budget.

“For Sale and To Let boards may be good for brand awareness, but unlike online marketing, boards less likely to generate leads beyond the local area.”

Online alternatives are more cost-effective

May explains: “Marketing your agency via videos, online brochures, featured property advertising and microsites can enhance your brand recognition and promote awareness of your available properties with the right audience.

“Despite the growing influence of video marketing, our research of over 3,000 agency websites found that 7 out of 10 firms do not use video or promote a corporate YouTube channel.”

Residential People adds that the influence of social media platforms continues to grow for agents looking to engage with a large audience of consumers.

According to ‘Our World in Data’, two-thirds of 3.5 billion internet users worldwide are active on social media.

“Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are ripe for agents’ promotional campaigns and can help them to generate leads for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising,” May adds.

“A holistic digital approach can help agents to be more targeted to specific areas and audiences, while also taking advantage of the millennial market which is made up of the buyers of today and the sellers and landlords of tomorrow,” he concludes.

Portico Launches New Property Portfolio Investment Service

Published On: August 2, 2019 at 8:34 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Leading sales and letting agency, Portico, has announced the launch of their new service for landlords. Portico Portfolio will allow landlords to invest smartly in property using a tax–efficient company structure.

Portico will use their lettings expertise to create and manage bespoke, northern-based property portfolios for their clients. These portfolios will be specifically designed to achieve high yields. Accountancy firm Accounts and Legal has partnered with Portico, to handle the tax side of the operation.

Portico Portfolio intends to help landlords or those sitting on savings to invest in up-and-coming locations outside of London, which offer opportunities for lower entry costs and high yields.

Latest Portico data

Portico’s Rental Yield Map shows that long-let rental yields in London range from 1.5% to 6.7%. The lowest rental yield of 1.5% comes from the prestigious Old Bond Street in Mayfair, whereas the highest yields are being recorded near the Sewage Works on Yarnton Way. This is between Abbey Wood and Belvedere in the southeast borough of Bexley.

Looking towards the north, rental yields are certainly much healthier. Research from Portico shows that the average long-let rental yield in Liverpool is 8.3%. The city’s highest rental yield for long-lets is an impressive 13.6%.

In Manchester, the average is 6.5%, with the highest long-let rental yield reaching 7.6%.

Fiona Veitch, Portico’s Marketing and Business Director, commented on the launch of Portico Portfolio:

“With the launch this year of Portico into Liverpool and Manchester, we wanted to create something unique that makes it easy for London landlords to invest in the north west.

“Launching Portico Portfolio allows us to combine our lettings and Portico Host service with our financial services expertise, to generate impressive and tax-efficient yields for property investors.

“We hope Portico Portfolio will allow both seasoned and inexperienced landlords to take advantage of our strategic advice and knowledge of the market to build strong rental portfolios.”

UK Lettings Market Declined in June, Latest Agency Express Property Activity Index shows

Published On: July 26, 2019 at 9:23 am


Categories: Lettings News

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The latest Agency Express Property Activity Index has been released, with results showing a year on year decline across the UK lettings market.

National figures for new rental properties coming onto the market sat at -4.1%. In comparison, figures in 2018 sat at a robust 8.9%.

Figures for properties ‘Let’ during this period followed a similar trend, coming in at 2.2%, down from 7.8% in 2018.

The Property Activity Index has observed two regions reporting increases in new ‘To Let’ listings. Eight regions saw an increase to properties ‘Let’ overall.

London made it to the top of the new listings leader board for June, with new listings at 18.2% and properties ‘Let’ at 3.8%. However, while the month on month increase is robust, year on year figures have fallen marginally.

Figures for the West Midlands followed closely, with properties ‘Let’ at 19.3%. This is an increase for the region, marking a record best for June.

Other prominent performing regions in this month’s index included:

Properties ‘To Let’

  • Scotland 15.9% 

Properties ‘Let’

  • Yorkshire & Humberside 0.1% 
  • South East 3.1% 
  • North East 4.3% 
  • North West 5.1% 
  • Central England 7.3% 
  • East Midlands 13.2% 

The largest declines shown in June’s Property Activity Index were made East Anglia. Properties ‘To Let’ sat at -17.6% 6% while figures for new listings fell for a third consecutive month at -2.8%. Again, looking back at the index’s historical data we can see that both figures have declined year on year.

Commenting on the latest index, Stephen Watson, Managing Director of Agency Express said: “As we look back at the data recorded by the Property Activity Index, we can see that over the few years June has been a buoyant month for the UK lettings market.

“However, this year the figures paint a different picture, evident by the drop in supply. Historical trends within the indices also show that we should not see an increase in figures until September, but with the current rate of change it will be interesting to see what the forth coming months bring.”