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Do Boards breed Boards? Should we be adding to Edinburgh’s Street Furniture?

Posted by Barry Burton on November 18, 2019
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Evergreen Property has proudly never used “To Let” boards. Over the last 5 years, our average fill time, from advertising to tenancy signing has averaged between 6 and 8 days. With the ability to upload photographs, write some copy and then advertise online within 30 minutes, we have never felt the extra cost, time or hassle has been worth it. We also felt that boards are not always appropriate for many areas of Edinburgh due to the historical nature of the city. We considered them unnecessary and a bit of an eyesore. 


However, over the weekend, I suffered from a sense of uncertainty regarding this view. 


Whilst driving through Stockbridge (in for a couple of hours work on a Saturday), I noticed, several “To Let” and “For Sale” sales. I understand the Law of Attraction and put it down to the fact that we are currently looking at options to add to our own personal investment portfolio; however, I thought some more through the weekend. 


My initial thought, like many landlords, was wow, aren’t these agents successful; they have so many properties to let. Then, my next thought followed quickly and it went something along the lines of, those agents can’t be very good because they have empty properties. I took it back to when we spoke to a “board erector” who said he would normally get a board up between 3 and 5 days of instruction. Again, my thoughts turned to the fact that we would have advertised, conducted viewings, begun (or even finished the referencing process) and be well on the way to appointing new tenants by the time the board was erected. 


Then it dawned on me.


Agents are not using boards to attract tenants, they are using them to attract landlords. I knew this deep down but perhaps I am more cynical nowadays. Agents have 14 days after the signing of the tenancy to remove the “To Let” board. And this time is valuable for agents in gaining “Mindspace” and Subliminal marketing in their target audience (landlords). And again, my rambling mind went to the fact that empty properties is bad so having boards up should be negative…


But it is not. 


It is good advertising, although it should not be. 


Then I thought of the anecdote of the two barber town. 


For those not familiar, there is a small town with two barbers. You are on holiday there and you need a haircut. 


Both barbers have spotless barbershops. But one is smart and has a very trendy and attractive haircut. The other barber has a similar shop but his hair is unkempt and his prices were more expensive. 


Which barber should/would you use?


Most people would, wrongly, go to the barber with the smart haircut. By now, you should have realised your mistake, if you were one of these people. He only has a smart haircut because the other barber cut his hair and the other barber has a bad haircut because the smart barber cut his hair but is not very good! 


So, how did we get to this analogy?


What does it mean to you, the landlord, when choosing your letting agent?


My advice would be to ignore the properties that agents have available. Agents with 40 available properties, could argue that they are new instructions  etc, whereas equally, they may have priced them too high, can’t fill them for whatever reason. 


I would speak to the agent, ask about their letting process; their referencing process; their average fill time; how often they inspect properties; whether you get a named person to contact or generic email/phone number; or any number of other things more important than the amount of boards they have across our beautiful skyline. 


Will Evergreen Property joining in and purchasing new “To Let” boards? 


At the moment, we are undecided. If we do, it will be in the New Year. 


Thank you for reading.


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