Big up the lettings!
As you are probably aware my heart and skills (stop laughing!) lay predominantly in sales. However since joining Scott & Stapleton, I have become much more involved in the lettings side of the business and am becoming more & more impressed.
20 odd years ago when I first started in the industry, rentals was a little frowned upon and people buying property to rent out was the domain for incredibly rich and sometimes rogue landlords. Times have certainly changed with more & more people buying properties to rent to top up pensions and as the types of landlords have changed so have the types of tenants. Standards of accommodation have improved dramatically to cater for the increasing demands from tenants. The current market is far from what it used to be with damp poor quality flats, rough Landlords and and tenants with months of rent arrears. People rent properties now for all types of reasons. Obviously and unfortunately there are those that are priced out of being able to buy but there are also people who don’t want to buy. People may be refurbishing their properties and having to move and even those on temporary works contracts needing a property for a short term..
Whilst it has been a difficult year for sales with prices and the number of transactions dropping below the level we saw in 2017, lettings has flourished with the number of transactions being up and rental prices achieved already breaking records.
The main thing that I like about the rental business is the speed. With a sale it might be a few days or weeks before a property that has gone on to the market receives an offer. Then another few days negotiating the price and then the long drawn out process of conveyancing which could be at least another 6-8 weeks! Lettings is completely the opposite. It is rare for a property to be on the market for more than a week and that’s all properties from £500 to £3,000 a month and 9 times out of 10 times we have multiple applicants where Landlords can make their choices. The demand for rental properties and the limited properties available often results in very little negotiation on the rent. References are then taken and the tenant can move within a week or so. This is a fast market and with me being a deal maker, it is refreshing to see that we are not restricted by the constraints of an antiquated property sales/ conveyancing process.
One thing we have ensured at Scott & Stapleton is to make sure we can handle this influx of business. Our rental department employs 9 people and they have all been brilliant. We have also invested in some cutting edge systems that have sped up the process and made it easier for everyone. We have an automated online move in process which includes the referencing, electronically signed tenancy agreements, rent & deposit payments and an automated repair reporting system with a full audit trail where everything is recorded and time stamped. All of this can be done from your smart phone. The only time a tenant needs to visit our office is to pick up the keys. One rental we have completed this month, the potential tenants viewed the property on the Tuesday, completed the forms and started the referencing on Wednesday, signed the contract & paid the deposit and first months rent on Thursday and picked up the keys and moved in on Friday. It is amazing.
Once the tenants have moved in both them and the landlord are passed to our management department which is like a well oiled machine. They are given a dedicated property manager who becomes their one stop shop for all their needs. There is also another clever on-line system that means they can report any problems 24/7. These are then picked up by the property manager and reported to the landlord or sorted immediately by our extensive team of local tradesmen & women. There is also the accounts department, responsible for collecting, chasing and processing rents. Obviously a very important part of the team, an inventory and inspection clerk whose job it is to carry out the inventories at the properties before they are occupied, carry out a final report once they have been vacated and complete regular inspections to make sure that tenants are happy and properties are being maintained correctly. All of these detailed inspections and reports are photographic so there can be no disputes or opinions cast about conditions and available widely to landlords and tenants alike.
As you can tell I am a little bit in awe of this lot! Don’t tell them though, I don’t want their heads to get too big or for them to rest on their laurels. Seriously though, they have been incredible. Nick and Anthony have broken the record for the most amount of properties let in a month for the last 3 months in a row. Alyson has beaten her previous record for the amount of property inspections carried out in a week last month and both Kelly & Adele have slotted into the team seamlessly and I can’t now imagine the department without them. Kay & Martine have handled record amounts of rents coming in & out, ensuring landlords get paid which is incredibly important.
I am glad to say that the days of the estate agents rental department being the poor relation to the sales department have long since gone and after 30 years of letting properties at Scott & Stapleton, the embrace of new technologies and new clients, it will only go on & on and we will continue to service the needs of local landlords & tenants.