Thanet Star

Thanet Estate Agents

I'm probably about to remove an entire market segment from ever wanting to advertise on Thanet Star with what I have to say today.

While I have been struggling with technical difficulties in getting out the Thanet Twitter Podcast I am also actively engaged in other activities of life. Such as taking part in a house hunt on behalf of someone. I've seen a thing or two that have surpprised, shocked and upset me.

Lettings in Thanet is a highly competitive business and yet the companies involved let themselves down so badly that it's a wonder that many of them are still in business. The possible exception to this was Oakwood but more on that later.

I want to call the entire industry out on it's attitude to tenants, landlords and each other.

Each and every estate agent that also deals with lettings should be ashamed of themselves. Your standards are shocking and it is the customer (both landlord and tenant) that is suffering. It will take only one agency to take on board the need to change and it could spell the end for any number of other agencies.

It's first come most likely to survive.

Attitude to each other

No where is the total failure of estate agents and letting agents in Thanet most keenly seen than in the childish way they treat each other in front of clients.

I met with a most pleasant lady just this afternoon to view her property. She had wisely hedged her bets by using multiple agencies and the reaction of each agent shocked me. As each agency had turned up to place their sign on the house they hard turn down and smashed up the signs of other agencies. Not only is this childish in the extreme but unprofessional and a clear demonstration of the dinosaur business mentality.

What message does such behaviour send to clients? What does it say to landlords or to tenants - that the agnecy is willing to stoop to any depth for the sake of money?


Attitude to prospective tenants

I mentioned before that Oakwood might be the exception to the rule. This is clearest when you phone them up.

The Oakwood Homes agent listened carefully to my requirements and budget and suggested a property which we made an appointment to view the very next day. Something only Parkland Estates whose Cliftonville branch also made an apointment for viewing during the very first phone call.

Of the rest some offered to email me, one called me back and some never got back to me.

Given the strong competition that I have seen demonstrated whereby estate agents in Thanet seem willing to commit minor criminal acts to get the edge on each other I would have thought that Thanet's realty industry would have the customer service basics in place.

What I experienced was a feeling that I was a necessary evil. It seemed that I should sit up and beg for whatever property the agent saw fit to let me have and it was sometimes very clear that the agent was there only to represent the landlord against the tenant.

We're talking about finding a home here - it's a co-operative effort whereby both tenant and landlord benefit. The agent will, naturally, pick up their cut on the way but to be almost aggressive to the source of your money seems strange.

It seems that Thanet's letting agents have forgotten it is the tenant that is the paying customer and the landlord is a supplier. Suppliers come and go but a loyal customer is hard to find.

Attitude to landlords

I have no first hand experience of Thanet's real estate agencies attitude to landlords but it seems listening to them is no strong point.

One landlady I spoke to today pointed to one of the signs (on the floor) and said "they send me nothing but riff-raff". She told me how she and her son had specified that they would prefer to rent to a nice family who would fit in within the neighbourhood and ideally were working (no housing benefit claimants is a common requirement) and yet the people that had been sent claimed housing benefit.

Do Thanet's lettings agencies not listen any more?

To compete effectively against other agencies a good customer bond is vital. To create this bond listening skills are vital. You must pay attention to your clients.

If a client comes to you to rent out a property don't send them people looking to buy (as happened to one property owner I spoke with).

Attitude to profits

One agency I spoke with uses a third party to carry out reference checks and so forth. I have no idea if this is standard but I see the logic behind such an action. What I don't see the logic of is adding additional barriers to the taking on of a new tenant.

The agent in question informed me that the reference check would cost £100 plus VAT and was payable by the tenant. I have to wonder if the profitability of the agency is so low that they can not afford to take care of this cost themselves.

Surely, as I mentioned earlier, it is in the best interests of the agent to foster a good relationship with the paying customer? With sufficient tenants who feel that they have an agent that is for them not against them surely a letting agent is set for ongoing success.

I see several gaps in the market that when closed will hurt the current collection of lettings agents in terms of lost potential customers. For those angencies not wanting to go bust - it's time to get your game face on and face the changes.

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Public Comments

This Normal comment was left by Rocky [score: 0]:

No Matt.

The tenant once they get a tenancy will gain. 6 months enjoyment of the property.

The landlord's gain or loss is in the hands of fate and checks.

As soon as the tenant gets into rent arrears they run to a public sector parasite (Housing Advisory Service of Council) to phone landlord to tell landlord that they must not harass the little thieving darling tenant. They can only get possession after six months.

The average cost of getting rid of a tenant legally under New Labour nanny state and empower the thieving tenants, is five months rent arrears and £800 legal fees.

Then taxes have to pay for public sector parasites like the Housing Advice Service who warn landlords about police will be called if you harass the tenant or council will prosecute if you evict without a court order.

But the underhanded public sector parasites are also advising the tenant. How to use the Section 21 possession route to fast track to social housing. So the landlord has to serve a two month Section 21 notice (which does not get a Court order for rent arrears) Then go back to Court for a bailiffs order (not allowed to kick their backsides out yourself landlord)

And eventually only when there is a Bailliff eviction date set will they get fast tracked to social housing.

There are cases of tenants going into rent arrears and trying to intimidate landlords into the Section 21 court route because that is a way to jump the social housing queue.

And last year New Labour did away with Landlords right of distress to recover rent arrears.

Up till then (for 300 years) landlords could take tenant goods for arms length sale without a Court order.

No one wants to touch housing benefits tenants because NewLabour decided to trust them to pay their housing benefits over as rent. And only when rent is two months in arrears can a landlord apply to have the housing benefits paid direct to landlord. So there is a gift two months rent steal built into the system now for the benefits scrounging scum tenant.

So what I would want in an agent is someone who would not hesitate to take a rusty syringe directly to the testicles of a tenant as a prelude to discussing rent arrears.

The law empowers the tenant to thieve from the landlord and circumnavigates that as theft. Not under New Labour. They can pocket two months rent and it aint theft.

So what happens when the laws deny justice ? You ignore the so called justice the law extends to the other party.

Tenant beware. Play fair and be treated fair. Mess me about for money and don't waste yer breath babbling to a public sector parasite at the council to blather on to me about Section 8 and Section 21. Go into arrears and get yer arse kicked out in short order. (WE would burn a house down with the tenant inside rather than be coerced into helping them jump the social housing queue at a cost of five months rent plus £800 to us)

Thank New Labour and their naieve social theorists.
12/05/2009 19:01:22

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

That would be a political mater and yes when the law favours one over the other too far things get had for both. What I'm talking about is good business practice and customer service.
13/05/2009 11:48:12

This Normal comment was left by Imobiliare Ploiesti [score: 0]:

Good point. Some real estate agencies must change their attitude if they want to survive.
11/06/2009 06:16:31

This Normal comment was left by Claire [score: 0]:

"they send me nothing but riff-raff". She told me how she and her son had specified that they would prefer to rent to a nice family who would fit in within the neighbourhood and ideally were working (no housing benefit claimants is a common requirement) and yet the people that had been sent claimed housing benefit.

This is really annoying! how can that be put when It is blatent predjudice. Not all housing benefit claiments are "riff raff" Just a small minority, Same as some working tennants don't take care of the propertys.
Surely wever a tenant is going to be a good tennant should be based on financial records and references from previous landlords/Letting agents, character references etc.

Labour pays the housing benefit straight to tennants so they don't need to inform the landord/letting agent they claim housing benefit, As their's no legal obligation for them to do so as far as I know.
15/06/2009 07:32:38

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

'Not all housing benefit claimants are "riff raff"' - I agree. To say all of group x are also y is a big jump.

However in an industry rife with such feelings some sensitivity is needed toward client needs and requirements or one risks wasting people's time.
15/06/2009 20:08:43

This Normal comment was left by Alicia SEO agency [score: 0]:

i guess, not "some" sensitivity but lots of it, otherwise you fail to build good cooperation with a client
21/07/2009 04:53:55
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