A lot of relocation agents were estate agents. Personally, I was a London estate agent and then a property search agent before setting up Pets Lets. Yet some landlords and estate agents don’t understand the merits of working with relocation agents. That is changing with an increasing number of estate agencies setting up departments to work directly with relocation agents. You send your contacts an in-depth brief and they will come back with suggestions or what is on the market as well as what may be coming on. You get the ‘inside track’.
Private landlords who want to avoid paying estate agency fees are beginning to see the merits of working with a client represented by a property professional. The issue with private landlords has always been they associate ‘agents’ with having to pay them a fee. Educating them otherwise and outlining the benefits of working with relocation agents, takes time.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider using a relocation agent when relocating to the UK:
As a relocation agent (otherwise known as ‘relo’) it is all about word of mouth. We want you to pass on the word and recommend us. Say how you were found a good property, advised and how we dealt with any issues along the way. Really took the stress out of the property side, so you could focus on other areas including making sure your ‘fur babies’ had a good flight. If you are flying from the US to the UK with your dog, you might want to check out K9 Jets, a pawsome company and come highly recommended.
They act as your ‘broker’. If a property is not good or there is an issue, they should advise you accordingly. If a landlord is being ‘tricky’ at the beginning of the tenancy before the tenancy agreement has been signed, that is not a good sign. Relations will only deteriorate. We have advised clients to pull out of the deal. A really good relo will ‘hold a client’s hand’ and guide them the whole way. A truly bespoke service. This includes recommending third parties.
Local knowledge & property expertise
UK rental property is complicated and competitive. Trawling through the UK portal property listings such as Rightmove, Spare room, Zoopla and Open rent takes time and estate agents or landlords don’t often respond. When they do eventually get back to you, you find the property has either been let or there are lots of offers. So frustrating.
The reason why an estate agent will respond slowly, is that they will get their best prospective tenants in first, as many only get paid on a commission basis. They don’t want their colleagues to beat them to it.
Also some agents and landlords will only accept an offer from someone who has physically been to the property or had a representative though the door. A relocation agent (relo) offers someone based locally who is well connected with landlords, estate agents and other property professionals. As their client, you will be taken seriously.
A good relo quickly knows if a property is worth seeing, which locations will work best for their clients and move quickly. Images and videos can be emailed or sent via whatsapp quickly for the client to see.
Also with a relo, they will advise you on locations and types of properties that you may not have thought of.
Jump the queue
In a busy UK rental market, you will be taken more seriously being represented by a relo. When offering on a property, which includes the sealed bids process, a good relo will advise you the whole way and put an offer together.
Can’t anyone do that, why use a relo? Well, a good relo, will find out more in-depth information. ‘What makes the landlord in this instance tick?’ Not every landlord is about price. As a landlord I recently turned down a higher offer, as I knew from experience, they would not be reliable and I already had a good offer from a great tenant. The tenant profile was more important to me.
For some it is about timing and longevity of tenancy. For a landlord an empty property costs money, especially if there is a mortgage. Regards refurbishments, asking too much can make a difference. Some landlords don’t want to do anything. Beware of those as that sets a poor precedent for the tenancy.
With our clients who have dogs and cats, a pet cv, has won ‘bidding wars’. We had one client with 2 dogs, 1 cat and a hedgehog and we won the sealed bid. The agent turned round to me later on and said, “the landlord loved the pet cv and the cute pictures.”
Costly mistake otherwise
What about the cost of using a relocation agent? Yes, it does cost money and some people feel they can do it themselves. Based overseas, it is far more complicated and you are basing your advice on an estate agent/ landlord who is ‘impartial’. We had one client who called up as she had rented an apartment near Hampton Court. The landlord had changed his mind about allowing her 2 small dogs and they was no pets clause in the tenancy agreement. She asked for our help.
I asked why that area? The response was the client has seen it in a TV period drama when overseas and thought it looked idyllic. It was far from that. We sourced a property in south west London, by Wandsworth Common for her dogs to run around. Another happy Pets Lets client. Imagine, ‘blindly’ signing a tenancy agreement, getting to the property and disliking it. You are then tied in for up to 3 years. Would you know to insert a break clause after 1 year in case you don’t like it? These are some of the reasons why it can be so costly not to consider using a relocation agent in the UK.
Personalities & trust
I would advise clients when looking to hire a relocation agent the following:
If travelling with pets use a pet friendly specialist. We get people coming to us, their company works with a relocation agency and they are struggling. We cannot help as they are tied into an agreement already with another party. Our hands are tied. If you are part of a corporate relocation to the UK, ask your company if you can use your own pet specialist.
Apart from fees, when you emailed a company or had an e-meet, how much did the person listen to your requirements and did they offer an advice or alternative solutions?
Did the relocation company say who would be looking after you? For all you know, you could be paying for an inexperienced junior.
At the end of day, sometimes go with your ‘gut feel’. It can all be about personalities. Who did you feel you ‘clicked’ with on the call. Working with a relocation agent is all about a relationship and good communication.
It does not cost anything to approach a relocation agency. Relocation is such a stressful process. When you have an experienced person working with you, it can take a ‘weight off your shoulders’. No harm in finding out about the relocation process.
This article was written by Russell Hunt, Founder of Pets Lets. With over 25 years as a London estate agent and London property search agent covering London and the home counties, as well as a dog owner with a basset/ beagle, setting up the Pets Lets Relocation Service made complete sense. We work with clients from all over the world. Pets are our four-legged children, aka ‘fur-babies’.