Digital Landlording: What’s the deal with online estate agents?

Peer inside your local high street agency and you’ll find a smiling agent inside ready to assist you. At the same time, you’re only ever one click away from a cyberworld online, a whole world, accessible in your pocket via your smartphone.  

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The hot debate is whether online or offline estate agents are more beneficial to today’s landlord. Both options offer many of the same services, they just come in slightly different packages, and what is right for you really depends on your own personal situation. 

You should consider factors such as your property’s individual quirks, fees, regulatory associations, services you will need, and have a very frank think about how involved you want to be. 

Here at Mashroom we’ve gathered top tips to assist you in making the right choice for your situation.

What is an online estate agent?

In principle, online agents are the same as high street letting agents, except they operate virtually rather than from an office that you can walk into. Usually, they will offer much of the same services as your standard high street agent, but because of lower overheads (we all know how pricey property can be to manage!) they are usually able to offer a much cheaper rate.

How do online estate agents work ?

We all know how the standard high street system works, and it’s a system that has been working for many years. However, for many landlords, times have changed. In many ways, both systems are very similar. Landlords engage with their chosen letting agent (like us here at Mashroom), an advert is created for the property (online agencies can still look after the technicalities such as photography, EPCs and gas safety certs for you), and that is advertised on the major property portals, like Rightmove and Zoopla.

From here, eager tenants can make contact about the property – but this is where things start to differ. Here at Mashroom, along with many other online services, tenants contact YOU, the landlord directly. This allows you to take full control of who you want to live in your property and oversee viewings, so you are 100% sure of the tenants taking on your asset. With high street agencies, much of this process still sits with the agent, meaning that much of the choosing process is out of your hands… 

How do online agents manage hands on tasks? 

Here at Mashroom (and we can’t speak for anyone else, but other options are obviously available!) we are able to provide everything your high street agent can, but at a fraction of the cost! Our services include:

All the ‘hands on’ tasks, such as check in/out, inventories and safety checks are carried out by out nationwide team of qualified engineers and local partners, who not only know your local area, but are well versed in all thing’s property! 

woman using a laptop, work from home

All of this is backed up by a hands-on landlord support team, who are always available to answer any questions you have along the way. It is true that you can’t pop into our office, but we’re always on the other end of the phone or email, and we love to chat!

That’s great, but won’t a high street agent know the area better?

Very possibly. Often local area knowledge is one of the big selling points that high street agents will use to hook in landlords. If your high street agent lives down the road, it is — highly likely that they will know where the best takeaway is, or what bus number gets you to the station. 

There’s no doubt about it. It is important that there is a good knowledge about the area your property is in. However, don’t underestimate the knowledge that You have, and that your prospective tenants already have… You own the property — there’s a fair chance that you’ll know if there’s

  • a great school nearby
  • hot nightspots
  • or a sought after university

Between your knowledge, and that of the tenants searching on the portals, an agent’s local knowledge is possibly of little concern.  

That said, understanding the pricing of an area is important – get that wrong and you’re unlikely to receive any interest from any tenants. Happily, for accessing this sort of information, you could engage an agent based in Timbuktu.  An online can give you a detailed valuation for your property – these details are accessed via online portals, using the exact same information that a high street agent works on. 

So, which option is better for landlords?

This is a question that crops up often. 

Much of the arguments come down to money. Online options are unarguably more financially beneficial for landlords. Mashroom landlords can find their tenants for free (yes, really! There’s no catch!), with tenancy agreements and rent collection for no charge. There’s no high street option that can come close to that. 

Many of the online options also help you get more bang for your (no) buck. As a Mashroom landlord you benefit from plenty of additional tools, such as our expenses tracker, document storage, yield calculator and landlord training.

Here at Mashroom, we are an online lettings agent, but we also like to offer you the inside track, and help you decide which option suits you best. If you’d like to book a consultation with one of our friendly representatives, click HERE to learn more. 

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