A recently published Fixflo Lettings Report 2019 found that more and more private landlords prefer to use their own contractors: 70% of landlords said they only used their own contractors, up from 54% in 2018. This, of course, comes with a host of issues for their agents. Onsite have explored the reasons behind this trend in the hopes to provide some insights for letting agents.
Such observation simply seems a reflection on our broader inclination towards independent research. Online resources offer both price point analysis as well as customer reviews, in the same way, a restaurant, film, or theatre review is acquired in seconds the same applies for contractors. Individual consumers are more and more heavily influenced by these indicators, and suddenly have more confidence in going at it alone based on their own research. Cost is always a key consideration and if a local white goods supplier cannot compete with another, then they will simply be passed over.
However, there are important considerations which are not always recognised by the private landlord and pointing these out could help drive that business back to agent partners.
Cheaper quote does not mean cheaper bill
Often the headline does not tell the full story. When buying an appliance, does the price tag include delivery, fitting, and disposal of the replaced item? Are call-out rates like for like in terms of the time covered once someone is in the Property? What are the surcharges if more time is needed than quoted? Are there abortive costs if the Tenant forgets to tell anyone they were going out? There are a host of important considerations which are frequently missed when it comes to costings.
Tenant access is not always accessible
People will wait at their own home for delivery of an item which is theirs, working tenants are already paying for the privilege of a property which functions fully and are less inclined to take time off work. Contractors who can pick up keys from the Agent, gain access, do the job, and leave everything in working order will always have an advantage. Sometimes a landlord has to appreciate that there are only so many times a tenant is prepared to be absent from work or school.
Ad-hoc contractors are not obliged to return to half-finished jobs
How does a landlord ensure that a contractor they have sourced independently will go back if required? Once the transaction has occurred and the job has been paid for, any bargaining power is lost. Established, ongoing relationships with the Agent circumvent this problem because there is a vested interest in that ongoing relationship. If the contractor is needed again, they would very likely return and finish the job.
It is very easy to imagine that online reviews give us balanced and relevant insight. Cheapest isn’t always best and price is sometimes a reflection on quality. Not to mention when dealing with a tenanted property, any delays might result in a rent rebate for the tenant – a cost which is likely to far outweigh any marginal gain at the outset.
In reality, most agents instruct and complete hundreds of repair and maintenance jobs a month and are therefore best placed to identify reputable contractors for their clients. Agents continue to work with their contractors because of their reliability and commitment to getting the job done. It is crucial that landlords are made aware of the added benefits of using their agents’ contractors.