Your gas certificate is due. Click and it’s sorted. One of your properties is empty. Click and it’s on RightMove. Your tenant’s emailed a maintenance issue. Click, click, click – already dealt with.
Speed is what landlords want right now and the rise of automated technology promises greater efficiencies, simple property management and the potential of higher returns.
Traditional letting agents manually handling admin tasks are falling behind, while the online market continues to soar. Every stage of the rental process can now be automated, from data analysis to remote viewings. Adoption is the only way forward, but there’s still a lot of educating to be done.
Alexandra Morris is managing director of original online letting agent MakeUrMove. Her company’s sophisticated technology platform aims to provide a cheaper, faster alternative to traditional letting agents with a pick ‘n’ mix range of services. It allows landlords to manage every single aspect of their portfolio – you’ll log into your dashboard to see a complete overview of upcoming viewings, offers, active tenancies, and rents due. The company can also have your property on all major portals within an hour, including Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation.
“Automation is not the big bad beast it’s made out to be,” she says confidently. “Even RightMove recommend landlords go to local high street agents, but this is outdated and expensive. They double-charge, it’s too clouded – but the online market has introduced transparency. Our aim is to give landlords a platform to access all their data easily and in one place – they can choose which services they want, whether that’s a full bundle, just ads, or something else.”
MakeUrMove has over 30,000 properties on its database, from over 20,000 landlords. The service is free for landlords to use for the first seven days and the most popular package is the Tenant Find package, which costs £49 for 60 days. Average time on the market for a property with the company is 21 days. If it hasn’t had a viewing within five days, MakeUrMove will do comparisons and check what could be affecting this with you over the phone. Are you including bills? Could you open up requirements, such as allowing pets? Could you advertise closer to the move-in date?
DIY data for smarter letting
When the company began shopping for data systems back in 2010, Morris soon realised they were paying premium for a lot of databases and management tools they couldn’t fully utilise. “There’ll always be something you want to change with technology,” she says. “So we built our own software designed to do exactly what we wanted it to do – produce the quickest letting solution for our customers.”
But does this come at a cost? Do we risk losing the human touch? “Those who’ve been in the property market for decades think you can’t automate this process,” Morris says, “But you can and it’s being done remotely now. If our tenants don’t want to, they don’t have to speak to a human being. Most of the time, they happily won’t.”
More to do in legal tech
New legislation is introduced all the time but landlords aren’t always notified about it. While letting agents can clean up their own act, landlords don’t know what’s coming. Morris’s aim with MakeUrMove is to give landlords the support they need with automated notifications – simple text messages with updates or a message on their dashboard.
“This is about profit and loss – and the legal industry is the biggest stumper for property sales,” she says. “So much is improving the speed, efficiency, time and cost in lettings but the conveyancing process hasn’t moved with the times. It still uses an outdated case management system and that can definitely be automated.”
Future of real estate is virtual
Morris is always testing new solutions and says “I’m really excited about remote viewings and virtual reality – you can talk potential customers through a property from the office. Yes it’s expensive, but costs will reduce as demand increases and make life easier for landlords – the only physical presence there really needs to be is the tenant.”
To analyse and predict future customer behaviours, MakeUrMove uses high-tech data analysis from Zoopla. But there are plenty of free tools landlords can utilise themselves for data analysis: Morris recommends HM Land Registry, HomeLet, Let Alliance and Council of Mortgage Lenders.