My first experience with an online agent

Those of you that know me will know that I’m a cheapskate! If there’s a cheaper way to do something, I usually will. So for that reason, when I sold my first house I opted to use an online estate agent instead of a typical traditional high street one.Whilst I’ve never used a traditional agent to sell a house (so have no comparison), I have to say my experience was great and went as smoothly as I could hope. I used eMoov, who are still one of the biggest online agents but I know there are a lot more out there now. Within a week of listing my house I had 13 viewings and it sold straight away at asking price. Next time I come to sell I can’t see any reason why I would use a traditional agent, the costs of these online agents is usually around £400 all in which could save thousands!

What about online letting agents?

A year or so after selling my first home I got into property investment and started building a portfolio. With the exception of one property, my partner and I have always done the tenant finding ourselves. For our first property, we naively used Gumtree, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you want a flood of unsuitable, and usually quite dodgy, tenants ringing up about your property. From then on we stuck to Rightmove but have always opted for an online agent. I’ve used Upad a few times and was impressed with their service, houses have always let within 1-2 weeks and the process is simple. For our most recent property though I thought I’d give easyProperty a go, having seen them at a recent Property Exhibition.

My experience with easyProperty

I opted for easyProeprty as they were offering a 2 week free listing which would save me the usual £70 odd I’d pay to uPad. I wasn’t expecting as good of a service as uPad but thought I’d give them a try as I had nothing to lose. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised from start to finish and will be using them in the future. For those of you considering an online letting agent, I’ve outlined the process I went through to let my property with easyProperty..

1) Open an account and upload pictures

After entering a few basic details I had an account. It was then ready for me to add property details at my own convenience. If you haven’t got the time, or just don’t want to take your own property pictures then an online agent probably isn’t for you. However, I actually prefer it and although I’m not a photographer I’m sure some of my pictures are better than a high street agent would achieve :). You can upload 12 pictures, along with the EPC and choose an photo order that you think works well.

2) Writing the listing

After uploading pictures I was free to write my listing. As with all Rightmove ads, you have the opportunity to bullet point the main features of the property. You then complete the listing with a short description that shows on the results pages and then a longer description that users will see upon opening the ad. At this stage you have the option to state whether you accept DSS and if you allow pets for example. You can also list your required deposit and any other key points. If you’re put of by writing the ad or not sure where to start, just take some inspiration from other Rightmove listings in the same area!

Once easyProperty check over your listing, it’s likely to go live within 24 hours.

3) Viewings

This is where most people are put off by an online letting agent. When it comes to viewings you will have to do them yourself (unless you pay extra). Any enquiries for your property will go through to easyProperty, they then vet them and arrange a time. Before agreeing a time they always confirmed it with me via email and once confirmed with the tenant another email would be sent with their details. They always blocked booked viewings as close as possible to avoid me having to go to the property everyday for one viewing, which was helpful.

4) Choosing a tenant

Having easyProperty there does help at this stage. They can carry out referencing at a low rate of £49.99 per person and also liaise with tenants after their viewings to get their feedback. Personally, I just gave tenants an application form so I could then choose who was most suitable and then carried out my own referencing via another 3rd party.

How did easyProperty stack up against Upad?

Despite costing far less, I have to say easyProperty delivered a better all round service. Whilst the uPad website is a bit more sophisticated and sleek, the customer service from easyProperty was miles ahead. Some of the key things I liked about easyProperty that were different to uPad included:

  • Not having to contact the tenants myself: With uPad, I would get a text or email with the tenants details and then have to ring to vet and arrange a time with them. easyProperty done all of this which saved time and hassle.
  • One point of contact: Throughout my listing, I was always contacted by the same staff member at easyProperty. This made things a lot easier as he got to know my availability and what I was looking for in a tenant. Therefore viewings could be booked in at appropriate times without delay and in most circumstances the tenants were suitable.
  • Lower cost: I believe it’s just £9.99 per week to advertise on Rightmove and Zoopla. For uPad’s standard package they’re currenlty charging £99.
  • Tenant referencing: If you are likely to use easyProperty or uPad’s referencing services, it’s worth noting that they charge £49 and £75 respectively. So even though you’re not paying the fee, I’m sure your tenants would prefer the cheaper option!

Final thoughts

From my experience I would certainly recommend both online estate and letting agents. I’ve never had a problem and have always been able to let the property within 1-2 weeks. If your property is in a low demand area or in a poor state of repair, the likelihood of a quick let is reduced. In cases like this, it may still be suitable to use a high street agent to benefit from their existing contacts and local knowledge.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us or leave a comment.