Whether you’re an Edinburgh landlord who’s looking for their first letting agent or you want to switch to a new one because you’re unhappy with your current service, making the right choice is crucial. But with so many letting agents in the city, how do you measure them against each other and decide which one best fits your needs?
Scotland’s capital is ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live. It also attracts thousands of visitors every year to its many festivals and events so it’s no wonder it seems like there’s a letting agent on almost every corner.
What are the most important factors to you?
If you need an agent to manage your buy-to-let or a portfolio of properties, what are the things to look out for? Is cost the most important factor? Or should you check you’ll get a personal service? Everyone’s wish list is different, so the first step is to establish exactly what you’re looking for and what price you’re willing to pay.
And remember, not all letting agents are the same.
Check for professional qualifications
Every letting agent must be registered with the Scottish Government, and you can check on the Scottish Landlord Register website to make sure you’re dealing with someone who’s legitimate. But being registered doesn’t mean they’re qualified…
At Clan Gordon, all our advisors are registered with ARLA, the UK’s leading body for property professionals, and they undergo regular training to ensure their knowledge and skills are up to date.
As a letting agent, we’re also regulated by ARLA and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. That’s because we have in-house chartered surveyors to offer expert guidance and advice for house purchases. If you’re looking for a complete property management service, make sure your letting agent has everything you need on offer.
What level of service do you need?
When drawing up your list of essentials, decide how much involvement you want in the management of your buy-to-let. If you live nearby and have time on your hands, you may just need help finding reputable and reliable tenants. But if you’re an absentee landlord or are tight for time, you may want a fully managed service.
Make sure the letting agent you choose offers exactly what you need. Most will outline all their services on their website so you can take time to compare.
Local knowledge matters
Some online letting agents cover a wide area and don’t have on-the-ground expertise. Their services may be cheaper, but the advice they can give will be more general, and they won’t know the area inside out.
With a local agent, you’ll benefit from years of local knowledge, and they’ll probably be looking after other nearby properties, so they’ll be able to offer more accurate guidance on rental valuations and the popularity of particular areas.
Check where you’re being advertised
Agents often save money by advertising properties on a limited number of websites, which reduces the exposure your property receives and means it may not be seen by some of the most reputable and reliable tenants.
At Clan Gordon, we advertise on ALL the leading property sites, including Rightmove, Zoopla, Citylets, PrimeLocation, Lettingweb and OnTheMarket. If you want to make sure your property gets maximum exposure, check where it will be promoted.
Pay attention to customer reviews
The best people to offer unbiased advice on the reliability of a letting agent are existing clients. Look for online reviews on sites such as Google and allAgents to see if anything negative comes up.
If you find more than a few negative reviews, it might be worth looking for a different agent. Personal recommendations are also a good way to find a reliable letting agent, so ask around if you know other landlords in the area.
Check the contract
When you sign up with a letting agent, they must provide you with a contract. Ask for a copy of their agency agreement in advance to see if there are any red flags, and make sure you understand everything that’s included in the price you’re being offered.
Check the initial tie-in period once you sign up – it can be anything from three to 12 months – and see if there is a break clause if you want to leave early. This will usually incur a cost to prevent the agent from losing out when they invest in initial checks and drawing up agreements.
Ask lots of questions and look for any hidden costs. It’s too late once you’ve signed on the dotted line…
Find out about maintenance and repairs
Ask how maintenance and repairs are dealt with. How often are routine inspections carried out? What’s the process if a tenant reports a fault? Some landlords are happy for their letting agent to look after everything, while others prefer to approve any work or set a maximum budget for work that can be carried out without them being consulted. Make sure the agent offers the service you’re looking for and that work is carried out by reputable tradespeople.
At Clan Gordon, we only use reliable local tradespeople who deliver work of the highest standards on behalf of our landlords.
If you’re looking for an Edinburgh letting agent, or want to switch, talk to us first. With almost 20 years’ experience in the city’s lettings market and a string of awards to our name, we can offer expert guidance. Arrange a call with one of our property management advisors to find out more.