Saturday, February 16, 2008

Battle of the agents

I have a lettings agent who was all over my flat. Thought it could fetch a lovely sounding monthly rental figure, was oozing admiration for 'how lovely' it looked and generally flattered the part of me that secretly believes one day I'll be in Hello, welcoming some sycophantic journo into my lovely home*.

Flights of fantasy aside, they've done frustratingly little since then. A viewing was promised today but cancelled at the last minute. Photos that I supplied on Monday were mislaid until Wednesday when it was decided they weren't in the right format for "the system". When I explained I worked with images all the time and all I needed to know was what format the photos were required in and at what resolution, and I could easily tweak them in a blink of an eye, I was roundly ignored and the lettings 'negotiator' was sent round with a camera to do them again (when, of course, the place was in disarray).

Three days after his visit he announces that they 'haven't come out that well' and could he come and take them again.

Come out that well?

We're in the age of digital and he's still talking about the dark art of room photography as if they've been in a dark room slaving over glass slides with silver bromide for the last three days. And in the meantime, however lovely my flat is, there are still no 'professional couples' in sight because they haven't seen the property details.

In a fit of pique at their general incompetence I phoned a rival firm. These guys are huge and corporate and I have been avoiding them rather in the same way you'd buy gnarled old oranges from the local shop instead of the decent juicy numbers from Sainsburys. But, needs must, and I can't afford to hang around.

He comes round the same morning, with ten minutes to squeeze me in. We race through my fixtures and fittings, speed through the valuation and the process. I'm an old hand at this deal making by now. Or so I think.

One final question: just what is their rate for lettings and management?

How much?

I am genuinely shocked. Mr Corporate Agent wants to charge me 11% for the letting and 6% for the management cost.

I am getting offered 5% for the let and 2.5% for the management by Mrs Local Small and Friendly but Perhaps Not Very Good Agent.

I beat Mr Corporate down to 9% plus 6% for management but he's not budging any further. He knows and I know that he could rent this place in a fortnight. I'm not even sure whether Mrs LSandFbutPNVG Agent will even get me any viewings in the next fortnight, but I send Mr Corporate on his way, saying No Way, until I at least need to panic about it.

I'm in a quandary.

Do I bend over and present my arse to the corporate guys to get fucked one last time before I leave this country, or do I hold out for the little guys and risk everything?

*I don't really believe this. But my head is easily turned by people who tell me I have taste.

1 comment:

dk said...

I was talking to Pete Ubly about the same thing, as he's off to Hong Kong and letting his place. Tbh i think you should tell mr corporate to fuck off - there's no guarantee they're any better. My landlord has just fired his agent who in 4 years of management failed to get a single lease correctly drafted or presented on time, failed to get a simgle problem fixed properly or promptly, and in fact didnt even manage to keep the right phone number for the landlord, and kept phoning me instead. I think they're all shit.

Just advertise it on gumtree yourself, pick some nice people, draw up a contract before you leave, and sort out with a trusted friend to be the tenants point of contact in case of emergencies.

In the very unlikely event that the tenant defaults on rent or something, you're still not going to be any more out of pocket than you are by going through an agent.