Letting agents urged to understand what landlords are really thinking

By Rayhan Rafiq Omar – Property Industry Eye

Five hundred of what one attendee described as the top 20% of lettings agents attended Property Academy’s Lettings Live 2016 event which was headlined by Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward and sponsored by Rightmove.

Rightmove’s Head of Lettings, Sam Mitchell, took to the stand to announce the results of their survey of 7,752 landlords’ and tenants’ thoughts on lettings agents. Of the 3,500 landlords who responded, 46% said yes when asked if they were considering buying more property. Only 30% said no with the rest undecided.

Mitchell asked the audience “Do you know the buying intentions of your landlords?” and added: “What are you doing to communicate with them to help them and give them confidence to grow their portfolio?”

He also asked: “What are you doing as a defensive strategy to make sure they don’t sell off their portfolio?”

The survey showed that sales transactions in March were up 80% year-on-year and Rightmove was seeing those new purchases flowing through to the lettings market.
Again speaking to the audience, Sam said instructions were up month on month and asked: “Are your instructions also up?”

Highlighting the Rightmove Intel tool as a way to track agency performance against local competitors, Mitchell said: “Sales are using this well, but we are seeing very little use on the lettings side. If your competitors aren’t using it, you should take advantage.”

Rightmove has added an extra 1,000 new agents in the last two years, but the number of lettings-only agents is decreasing.

A mystery shop exercise was undertaken and Mitchell played two recordings of calls which elicited gasps from the audience.

Comments included “Don’t get me started on the lack of sales qualification” and “Didn’t even get name or telephone number”.

Mitchell said of the calls: “The evidence from these shows there’s so much more business that can be generated from what agents are receiving in leads already.”

He said training “makes a difference on the first day, but by day three goes back to normal”.

Mitchell recommended incentives such as any staff member who books 20 valuations goes into a £1,000 prize draw.

On call recording, Mitchell said it was great for constructive training, but “not so much if you’re beating people up with it”.

All the survey results are available on

There were also talks from LinkedIn on how to use the platform effectively, and Nicky Stevenson from The Property Academy who gave agents top tips to improve their businesses over the coming months.

Between speaker sessions, delegates were able to have coffee and bacon sandwiches in the buzzing exhibition area where they could network with each other and the event’s many industry sponsors.

Back on the podium, attendees heard from economist Roger Martin-Fagg on the prospects for the UK post EU referendum.

Martin-Fagg said: “House prices are a key driver of how people feel about themselves and the economy, and whether they will spend or save.”

He said that supply isn’t the major driver behind houses prices and that “house prices in Britain move primarily because of excess demand driven by credit availability”.

On rental property he said that rents have lagged house price movements in the last three years. If there were a shortage, you would expect rents to move faster.

Martin-Fagg’s talk piqued interest in the room when he said that 25 to 34-year-olds have gone from 21% renting in 2003-4 to 48% in 2013-14.

The crux of the talk were his personal ‘pro-Remain’ views, including that sterling could drop to $1.20 by the end of the year and that “if you’re holidaying in the US, change your money now”.

He added: “If we vote to leave we can expect interest rates at 3-4% by the end of 2017.”

“The idea that there will be a recession if we leave is totally correct.”

The highlight of the event was Sir Clive Woodward talking about his concept of teamship and that his mission statement is “to create an environment so good, that each individual wants to be part of it and nobody ever wants to leave”.

He described the process of building a team involving “discussion before action” and that when teams get 100% agreement there isn’t any room for individual bad behaviour.

He said he didn’t believe in democracy and his methods are employed in sports teams and corporates to “give the team a chance to operate, without giving away any of your authority”.

He said: “If you don’t like what they come up with, send it back explaining why you don’t like it. That way they think carefully.”

Woodward gave examples, including one in the London Olympic village where Team GB collectively agreed to use every hand sanitiser they passed in the interests of keeping everyone healthy.

He said: “Because it was a team-ship rule, even if people walked past five, you’d do it. Every athlete agreed to do this.”

The result was “we didn’t have a single health problem”, adding: “They hired five expensive doctors who spent the whole time filling up these hand gel things.”


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