Letting A Property: Do It Yourself or Use An Agent?

So you’ve opted to take the buy to let approach, you’ve got the property ready and completed any necessary refurbishment work. Now you want to get it on the market and let it out to a prospective tenant, great! But there’s one question what remains, when letting a property, should you do it yourself or use an agent? This article will help you make that decision.

Letting A Property DIY or Use An Agent

It can be a tough decision to make, both options have equal measures of pros and cons according to your preferences and goals. In this article, I’ll go through the different factors you should consider. At the bottom of the page, I’ll even include a handy little quiz tool to help you make the decision.

But first… What do I mean by “use an agent”?

For the purposes of this article, I’m talking about the management of a property once you have a tenant in situ. As it relates to actually finding a tenant, I’d always recommend using a letting agent for that unless you already have a tenant lined up that you know you can trust. That part is a no-brainer for me, for a few hundred pounds why wouldn’t you make use of their marketing budgets on Rightmove & Zoopla, get the referencing checked plus get your tenancy agreement prepared in advance.

With that cleared up, let’s move on to actually letting a property, should you do it yourself or use an agent?

What’s more important to you, time or money?

To put it simply. A managing agent is there to provide experience where you may not necessarily have it. Even if you have experience, a good management agent should be able to save you time and hassle that you can then invest in other things. The trade-off however is that it will cost you – approximately 10-20% of your rental fee.

How well do you know your local market?

Hypothetically – nobody should know the rental market for your area better than an agent. They manage big portfolios and value / let multiple properties in any given week. A good agent will also be able to give you an annual appraisal of the market to help you make the most amount of money you can for your property. At the end of the day, it’s in their interest too as they charge a percentage of your total rental income as their management fee.

What’s your level of experience in letting a property?

Letting a property can be quite a daunting experience for some, especially part-time landlords who fall into it by accident. Give yourself a sense check and ask yourself how confident you feel in managing the process. If you’re not very confident, one option could be to use an agent for a little while whilst you do some more research and build your confidence.

What kind of audience does your property appeal to?

Think about your target audience. There are some similarities here to knowing the local market, but i’m focusing more on the actual tenants that will be inhabiting your property. Not only will an agent be able to tap into that target market more readily, but they should also help you manage it more effectively to manage any common pitfalls. An example here would be the student population. It’s quite rare that a student will want to occupy a property for the full 52 weeks per year. An agent will help you plan for that.

How easily can you get to the property if there’s a problem?

This is one of the biggest selling points of using a management agent. If getting to a property and sorting out any issues that arise is a problem for you, you’ll really struggle on this point. A management agent will be able to tap into local contractors who they have readily available on the books. Yes, the service will cost you – but if you don’t know what you’re doing and / or really struggle to get there yourself – it could save you in the long run.

So, after considering all that, what should you do?

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