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Interview with Jack Barnett, Director, Rent North East. By Chris Walkey, Estate Agent Networking

Do you feel that more should be done to regulate the lettings industry and help improve the reputation of it? Many suffer from a few rogue traders it would seem.

Absolutely. Landlords and tenants don’t feel that they have a clear idea of what they should be entitled to.

Regulating the industry could serve to bring the trust back by giving consumers clarity in their expectations. I do feel that agents should be consulted when new regulation is considered, to avoid creating a difficult climate for the many smaller players, which would ultimately effect the consumers.

How important is it to stay ahead with marketing innovation and property technology both for finding new clients and managing client property?

Imperative. Clever use of technology helps us to automate a lot of the work that required hours of an agents time just a few years ago. These savings are passed on to our clients, and also helps to prevent costly errors in the management processes. We have worked closely with proptech companies including FixFlo and ExpertAgent, and have actually built bespoke automations with the FixFlo dev team which help us to keep tenants in the loop about repairs that they have requested.

International landlords are particularly effected by communication challenges caused by time zone differences, and our web based software allowing landlords to approve/decline maintenance requests online, and view/download statements online is very popular with landlords living all over the world, including South America, Dubai, China, Israel, France, and Germany.

Our landlords want us to be focused on increasing their bottom line. Deploying technology throughout our processes allow us to keep tenants happier, obtain quicker and more cost effective work quotations, provide a more transparent service, and use new and faster methods of communication. All of which allow us to save time, keep tenants for longer, save money on maintenance, and work on optimising our clients asset. I could spend hours showing you how software also saves time and streamlines processes in our business…

The proptech scene is very exciting right now. I predict that in 5-10 years, many tech savvy landlords will be using software to manage and let their properties, with no agent involvement at all. The market for agents will slowly move into portfolio management, with more focus on maximising client returns. Agents must consider that the need for their services may be massivelyÿdecreased in 5 to 10 years, and certainly in the longer term.

In a short summary, what makes a good Letting Agent and Letting Agency?

A great agent must constantly be thinking of ways to increase his clients bottom line. This must be approached holistically, and with in depth knowledge of all factors. A great agency will support and encourage effective team members, and will have a low staff turnover to allow for a consistent approach and result.

Jack Barnett Director, Rent North East

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