Landlord Advice

Online Letting Agents: Streamline Your Rental Journey for Maximum Returns

Written by Diana Santos

The rental property market has grown significantly over the years, as reported by the English Private Landlord Survey in 2018. The number of private rental properties has grown from 3.6 million to 4.5 million between 2010 to 2018. These are managed by around 1.5 million landlords, 48% of whom have admitted to using the services of an agent to rent out or manage their properties.

This shows that the practice of hiring letting agents is common among landlords. These agents offer their property management expertise, a deep knowledge of the rental market and various connections that can impress guests and residents. They can ensure maximum rental income and occupancy rates.

Since the pandemic, a lot of agents have transferred online to continue providing their services and widen their market reach. They offer the same type of service but at a lower cost.

In this article, you’ll learn more about online letting agents and how they can streamline your rental operations to achieve significant portfolio growth. You’ll get tips that’ll help you decide if working with online letting agents is aligned with your investment goals.

About Online Letting Agents

Online letting agents have the same goal as other real estate agents. They help landlords and property owners manage properties so they can be rented out for profit. The only difference is that they operate online.

Some of them operate completely online. Others have opted for a hybrid set-up wherein they operate online but have a physical office where they can also do business.

These online letting agents use online platforms and automation tools to reach a larger market of potential tenants. They use state-of-the-art technology to provide property management services efficiently online. Among these services include marketing, cleaning and maintenance, tenant screening, rent collection, compliance, financial reporting, etc. They accomplish all these tasks at a fraction of the cost because they operate online.

Difference between Online Letting Agents and High-Street Agents

High-street agents are professionals who also manage properties on behalf of landlords and property owners. Some manage rental properties and sell properties at the same time. These agents usually work within a specific location. This gives them expertise in that area. To date, high-street agents have a bigger market share compared to online letting agents.

While high-street agents hold the majority of the real estate exchanges in the UK, that doesn’t mean they are automatically better than their online counterparts.

Online letting agents are more cost-effective because don’t need a big physical office or store to operate from. This reduces their overhead expenses significantly. That means they don’t have to pass on their expenses to their fees – making them much more affordable for landlords and property owners.

Most online letting agents also work WITH landlords – not for them. That means landlords maintain full control over their properties. They are given access to the same online tools used by the agents to monitor and manage their properties remotely. This comes in the form of an online dashboard where all the property details, inquiries and transactions can be viewed and accessed.

Finally, online letting agents offer different services that you can choose from. You can choose to get their marketing services alone while you continue to manage the property yourself. Or you can choose to have them find tenants and collect payments. You also have the option to get full management services so they’ll take care of everything.

10 Ways Online Letting Agents Streamline Operations

While online letting agents are not here to replace high-street agents, it’s important to recognise what they can do and how they contribute to the rental property market. You’ll get a better appreciation of what they can do to help you reach your portfolio goals.

So what makes online letting agents effective at what they do?

Here are 10 ways that they streamline property management operations.

Digital Property Listings

Online letting agents are adept at using online tools – including online property listings. They can create online profiles for your properties that are filled with detailed descriptions, professionally done photos and even virtual tours. This will make your property visually enticing so potential guests and residents will consider booking or renting it.

Since your property listing is posted online, it gets to reach a wider audience. Apart from the online letting agent’s website, your property will also be listed on Rightmove, Zoopla or Airbnb – among others.

Virtual Viewings

Through digital property listings, people can conduct virtual viewings of your property. There’ll be no need for you or the online letting agent to physically be present for the property viewing. All this can be done online through the 3D virtual tour of the property that the agent will set up on the property listing platform.

It’ll save both time and resources because there’s no need for travel expenses. Not only that, people can view the property even from far away. This means you can cater to more people and increase the occupancy rate in the process.

Online Booking Process

The online booking process makes everything easier, faster and more convenient. It eliminates the middleman or agency. Guests or residents can directly get in touch with the landlord, property owner or property management company without the need for a travel agent. There’s no need to pay additional fees. People can follow a simple process to book their accommodations.

Digital Monitoring and Management

One of the benefits of digitising the booking process is that documents are automatically generated and all transactions are recorded. Everything is updated in real time. This will help you monitor all transactions and avoid double bookings. It also gives you the information you need to do a background check on the guest or resident to see if they are responsible and reliable.

Digital monitoring and management make it easier to streamline the process and eliminate too much paperwork and other tedious administrative tasks.

Automated Financial Transactions

The platforms used by online letting agents are also equipped to allow automated financial transactions. This minimises delayed or missed payments. The system will notify you and the online letting agent of upcoming rental fees that are due – especially if the tenant has yet to transfer them.

You can also set this up to automate the transfer of the monthly rental earnings. These are usually updated in real-time so you can generate reports anytime to check the profitability of your properties.

24/7 Communication Channels

Operating online means getting access to various communication channels that can be used 24/7. For one, their website is optimised to be the front of the business. You can expect that it’ll be filled with vital information about the business. You can submit your concerns here and access FAQs that would clarify common queries.

You can also communicate with them through email, chat or online portals anytime. Of course, there will be times when you’ll be dealing with AI technology (e.g. chatbots). But it’s still convenient to be able to reach out to submit concerns 24/7.

Real-time Market Insights and Analysis

Since online letting agents do work online, you can expect that they are adept at using various data analytical tools. They have access to valuable real-time data that can give you insights about the local property market, trends and economic factors affecting your multiple properties. It’ll help you set competitive rates and marketing strategies that can lead to maximum rental income and occupancy rates.

Online Maintenance Requests

Thanks to the 24/7 communication channels, it’s possible to send online maintenance requests anytime and anywhere. Whether it’s the guest, resident or property owner who’s making the request, they can send the request through email or phone call.

Online letting agents will immediately update the property data so you can see what maintenance tasks or repairs are scheduled. Most of the time, the cost of these requests is also included in the report. You can view this in the dashboard that the online letting agent will set up for you. Use that to track all the tasks and take note of the schedule for future reference.

Efficient Tenant Screening

Online letting agents have a streamlined process to screen guests and residents. They can research information about potential occupants to ensure that they are responsible individuals with the ability to pay rent. Thanks to the information available online, this can be done quickly and efficiently.

Within minutes, the agent can determine if the guest or resident can stay in your property.

Compliance Legal Support

You can rely on online letting agents to help you stay compliant. The nature of their job requires them to closely monitor the property market. You’ll benefit from this because the agent can inform you of new regulatory requirements that you have to comply with. They can help you track which certifications and licenses you need to update or reapply.

Some might even help you process them – but that would entail additional fees. This will give you peace of mind, knowing that your properties will always be compliant with local regulations.

How to Find Reliable Online Letting Agents

Finding reliable online letting agents is very easy – but you need to conduct proper due diligence to make sure that you’re partnering with the right person or company. When you type “online letting agents in London” on search engines like Google, focus on those that have good reviews.

Get a few online letting agents and get in touch with them so you can ask them specific questions. The important questions that you should ask include the following:

  • What type of services do they offer?
  • Where will your property be advertised?
  • How much with services or packages cost?
  • How long have they worked as online letting agents?
  • What type of properties do they manage right now?
  • What systems do they use to monitor properties?

Their answers will help you determine who you can trust and work with. Make sure you do your research and check out independent review sites. Read comments and feedback about them. Pay special attention to the negative feedback. There’s no perfect company but you can tell a lot about how trustworthy a company is with the way they handle negative reviews.

Work with Reputable Online Letting Agents in London

There are many online letting agents in London. They offer different types of services. To help you find the right one, start by understanding your investment priorities. You can use it to find an online letting agent who can help you reach your specific goals.

When doing your search, you don’t have to focus on finding individuals. You can look for online property management companies that have a reputation for using digital platforms and innovative technology to provide exceptional services to property owners.

City Relay is an expert when it comes to managing rental properties in London. We have a team of dedicated online letting agents who can provide comprehensive property management services that include marketing, maintenance and tenant relations. We’ll help set up your property to achieve maximum rental returns and high occupancy rates.

If you’d like to know more about our online letting services, let’s talk. Our letting agents are ready to assist you to ensure that your portfolio can achieve significant growth this year.

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