Using an agent

All you need to know about letting agents

If you’re letting a second home, the most important decision is whether to let it yourself or use a letting agent (or agents).

If you don’t have much spare time, you’re better off using an agent, who will take care of everything and save you the time and trouble of advertising and finding clients. An agent will charge commission of between 20 and 40 per cent of gross rental income, although some of this can be recouped through higher rents.

If you want your property to appear in an agent’s catalogue, you must usually contact them the summer before you wish to let it (the deadline is usually September). Note that, although self-catering holiday companies may fall over themselves to take on a luxury property in Greece, the top letting agents turn down most properties they’re offered.

There are numerous self-catering holiday companies operating in Greece, and many local estate agents also act as letting agents for holiday and long-term lets.

Take care when selecting an agent, as it isn’t unknown for them to go bust.

If possible, make sure that your income is kept in an escrow account and paid regularly or, even better, choose an agent with a bonding scheme who pays you the rent before the arrival of guests (some do). It’s absolutely essential to employ a reliable and honest (preferably long-established) company, as anyone can set up a holiday letting agency and there are many ‘cowboy’ operators.

Always ask a management company to substantiate rental income claims and occupancy rates by showing you examples of actual income received from other properties. Ask for the names of satisfied customers and check with them.

Things to ask a letting agent include:

  • When the letting income is paid;
  • What additional charges are made and what they’re for;
  • Whether they provide detailed accounts of income and expenses (ask to see samples);
  • Who they let to, e.g. what nationalities and whether families, children or singles;
  • How they market properties;
  • Whether you’re expected to contribute towards advertising and marketing costs;
  • Whether you’re free to let the property yourself and use it when you wish. Many agents don’t permit owners to use a property during the peak letting season (July and August) and may also restrict their use at other times.

The larger companies market homes via newspapers, magazines, overseas agents and direct mail, and have representatives in a number of countries. Management contracts usually run for a year and should include arranging routine and emergency repairs; reading meters (if electricity is charged extra); general maintenance of house and garden, including lawn cutting and pool cleaning; arranging cleaning and linen changes between lets; advising guests on the use of equipment, and providing them with information and assistance (24 hours a day in the case of emergencies).

Agents may also provide someone to meet and greet clients, hand over keys and check that everything is in order. The actual services provided will usually depend on whether a property is a basic apartment or a luxury villa costing €1,000 or more a week. A letting agent’s representative should also make periodic checks when a property is empty to ensure that it’s secure and everything is in order.

You may wish to check whether a property is actually let when an agent tells you it’s empty, as it isn’t unknown for some agents to let a property and pocket the rent (you can get a friend or neighbour to call round). Note that when letting a property short-term, you must check that it’s permitted under the community rules and you may also be required to notify your insurance company.

This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Greece Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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