Guest blog: streamlining the renting process for agents and tenants
3 April 2018 | Mal McCallion
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There is no shortage of renters in London; it is expected that by 2025 almost 60% of households in London will be renting. There is, however, room for improvement in how leads are captured and processed - with the tenant fee ban coming in next year, finding qualified and ready-to-move-in applicants will be where agents can maximise their budgets and reduce acquisition costs.
Overwhelmed agents and unqualified applicants
Most leads to agents from digital platforms – including the portals – can at best be described as “unqualified”, at worst as “time-wasters”.
Particularly in the lettings’ sphere, it’s often tempting for agents to view tenant leads as pretty much interchangeable – with the amount of hassle involved in qualifying them, listening to their requirements, taking them on viewings and administering the tenancy as exhausting, regardless of the individual.
But that’s not the case. There are tenants that are qualitatively better than others. Every single agent knows this. The challenge is in discovering them quickly, processing them effectively and moving them in happily – a challenge that is significantly more difficult than it sounds.
As a result, estate agency staff can – and many, perhaps most, do – just plump for the first person that they find can pay the bills, provided that they don’t have a uniquely awful history with a landlord. But is that the most effective way of servicing your own client? Or are there better ways to go about making all sides happy?
Confused and brand-blind tenants
From the tenant’s perspective, the renting journey is uphill. There is a lack of clear and personalised information available and making it a hit-and-miss process that takes much longer than it should. They search in areas and budgets that make sense to them and them alone. Over 60% of London renters spend more than one day researching just the area they want to move to, while over half view six properties or more before finding the one they want to rent.
Finding and deciding on the right rental property has long-term repercussions for a tenant yet many have limited time to find their next home and bombard agents with enquiries that range from very specific to incredibly broad. They’ll wait for responses impatiently, generally assuming that they’re in a head-to-head race with someone who has the finances in places and is move-ready. They stretch their budget as far as it can go – and more – to ensure that they do not end up in a geographical place that they do not want to be.
Most importantly, tenants are “brand blind”; they don’t really care who is letting and/or managing the property because they have other pressing concerns - they care about where it is, how much it costs and its condition. Can they live in it? Can they move in when they want to? Can they get to work pretty quickly? Sold.
I understand that it’s desirable from an agent’s perspective to believe that it is their brand that makes the difference in this emotional client journey. But it’s not. The agent is important to the landlord, for sure. But from the applicant side there is generally complete disinterest for the name of the agency that manages the property, as long as it is the home they want to move in to.
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The tenant fee ban calls for a change
With the much-mooted tenant fee ban due to come in next year, the amount of administration agents will have to do for each tenancy is going to be critically important to profitability. Once that fee disappears, it’s going to be even more important to know which tenants are in a position to progress and which are going to suck time and effort from your team for no reward.
It’s heartening to see startups such as Homie and MoveBubble looking to innovate and solve real problems for both agents and individuals. Knowing that there is a source of highly-qualified, move-ready tenants on tap is a much stronger proposition than the hit-and-miss process that is currently enabled because each tenant brings with them a fee.
There will be others that seek to fix these inefficiencies in due course, so agents should see what solutions there are out there locally to maximise their marketing budget’s return and minimise costs. Discover those who are taking the fee ban seriously and looking to provide what every letting agent is going to need – a fast, reliable and efficient way to find the perfect tenant without the time-wasters.
That’s marketing innovation which works.
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About the author
Agent Liaison, Homie
Mal has over 17 years experience in the property business in London. He has been involved in seven high-growth companies, where he has gained invaluable and unique experience in sales growth delivery. He is fascinated by technology and its possibilities in the property business; one of his current projects is helping homie.rent with its mission of making renting in London as transparent and simple as possible.