The accidental landlord: a new approach to letting a property

Victoria Whitlock wonders whether a scientific approach will serve her best as she tries to let her soon-to-be-vacant property
My four-bedroom property needs re-advertising as the present tenants are due to move out next month, but I have decided to take a more scientific approach to the whole process in order to let the flat as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort.

I’m keen to avoid traipsing to the property several times a day for the next few weeks to show zillions of viewers around when 90 per cent of them won’t be in the least bit interested. Many will only be window shopping and quite a few who turn up won’t make suitable tenants.

My plan is to generate the maximum amount of interest from my ad but conduct the fewest number of viewings necessary to secure an offer in the shortest amount of time. To do this, I have sought inside information on property seekers which, since you’re good enough to be reading this, I’m going to share.

I’ve found some research from Upad, the UK’s largest online letting agent, which analysed data from the 25,000 tenant enquiries it received in July to find out when and how tenants look for their next property. It shows that the majority of enquiries come during weekday evenings, but also that Monday and Tuesday lunchtimes are peak periods for property searches online.

More than 80 per cent of the 278 tenants who responded to a survey by Upad said they preferred to view properties during the daytime on Saturdays, though 72 per cent said they would also go house hunting on a Sunday. Nearly half would do viewings on weekdays after work, but only one in 10 would visit a place on a Saturday night and only one in five would visit during normal working hours from Monday to Friday.

What this shows is that, ideally, landlords should try to be flexible as viewers are more likely to prefer weekends to other times but Mondays and Tuesdays are very active for enquiries. Now, past experience tells me that if you aren’t able to show tenants round a property within a day or two of their enquiry they usually find somewhere else. However, because I don’t want the re-letting process to take over the rest of my summer, I’ll aim to be free on Monday and Tuesday lunchtimes to respond quickly to enquiries.

Then, rather than dropping everything to show tenants around whenever is most convenient to them, I’ll try to bunch all the viewings together on Saturday or Sunday, as these seem to be the most popular days. A risky strategy, I know, but let’s see if it works.

Upad’s research also shows that more than 40 per cent of property enquiries come from a mobile phone or a tablet, which suggests to me that many people are looking for their next place to live while on the move, maybe on the bus on the way home, or possibly during the ad break while watching a movie.

I reckon that if folk are looking at property ads on such small screens, it’s best to grab their attention as fast as possible. Time to ditch the prose, then, and limit my ad to a series of bullet points, listing all the essential facts in just a few words, backed up with some excellent photos. To tell the truth, I’ve always thought punchy ads work best, especially with younger viewers who, having been weaned on Wikipedia and Google, have lost the ability to read a sentence more than five words long anyway.

Of course, if all of the above fails I will ditch the science and resort to Plan B: a glowing ad and viewings 24/7 until the flat is let.

Follow our accidental landlord on Twitter at @VicWhitlock

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