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Interview of Catherine Shinerock
Written by the Letting Agent Today team
Catherine Shinerock - ARO Account Manager

Who are you and what does it say on your business card?

Catherine Shinerock - ARO Account Manager

What is your ‘company name’ and what does it do?

Choices Estate Agents - all things property. Removing the stress and complexity from property.

What services do you offer and in what ways do you work with estate agents?

Our services include: lettings, home sales, property investments for investors and home buyers. We also work with partner agents on the Advanced Rent Option (ARO) business model, to help them grow their businesses in this testing time, when most are looking for ways to replace tenants’ fees.

With the ARO, Choices provide the finance to pay the landlord one year’s rent upfront, while collecting the rent monthly from the tenants, and instructing the partner agent as the landlord’s local managing agent.

We’ve been working with a selection of agents over the past couple of months on our Phase 2, ARO pilot, providing them with the marketing assets and knowhow to offer landlords the Advanced Rent Option (ARO).

At this early stage of the pilot, having launched in January 2020, we are pleased to see some of the agents, including Sacha Scott, Chimney Pots and Chambers Estate Agents, already see some great results - such as increased landlord enquiries, valuations and property instructions.

These have been achieved through the agents’ proactivity in marketing the ARO, via the printed and digital marketing assets provided, hosting events and generally talking to the landlords about it. It is just a matter of time until we start seeing these instructions convert into deals.

The ARO, Phase 2 pilot is free and we are still inviting agents to apply. We are, however, limiting it to one agent per territory, so please enquire fast if you have 200+ properties on your portfolio and would like to know more. (You can email craig@valpal.co.uk for more info!)

What makes your product different and how does it benefit agents?

The Advanced Rent Option is unique in the market, which is a huge selling point and lead generator in itself. Choices’ financial capabilities mean that we pay the landlord the entire year’s rent and collect the rent monthly from the tenants, minus our standard management fee. 

Benefits to the agent include: more landlord leads, valuations, instructions and deals. Choices have been successfully using the ARO to grow our business since April 2019 and results have shown that a large percentage of landlords who enquire about it, end up going for a standard management option. So, leads are converted into business one way or another, also helping agents to grow their portfolios.

Another benefit to the agent is that Choices pay the agent’s fee upfront for the year upon an ARO deal completing.

Tell us about your background/past experience in the property industry and elsewhere?

I’m an experienced property consultant and account manager with a demonstrated history of working in the industry. My skillset includes client liaison, process improvement, trend analysis, event management, lettings and social media. I have a strong arts and design background with a 2:1 in Textiles & Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Having worked across a range of industries over the course of my career, I have gathered a broad range of skills that I utilise in my role today. In particular, my organisation and planning skills from my four years in Event Management, producing marketing events for big brands such as Samsung, and my three years as Assistant Lettings Manager in our Choices London office, where I have had hands-on experience completing ARO deals from start to finish.

Furthermore, my time in our property investments team as a property consultant, helping investors grow their portfolios. 


What is your greatest achievement in your current role and what made it so special?

My latest ARO landlord instruction was for a penthouse apartment in Angel which converted into Choices highest-earning ARO fee to date. The success of this instruction and deal has opened up a vastly more profitable relationship with the property developer landlord who owns the entire block of luxury flats in Angel.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Speaking regularly with our partner agents, seeing them utilise the ARO in their marketing and hearing about the positive results they’ve been getting to help grow their businesses.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing estate and letting agents at the moment?

Increased tax liability on buy-to-let landlords that may push many out of the market and the ban on Section 21.

What is your property prediction for the remainder of 2020?

Steady recovery as the year progresses for UK home sales and steady growth in lettings, with July, August and September as peak time for rent increases.

Great long-term investment opportunities in Margate, and both long-term (capital gains) and short-term gains (good rental yields) in Bristol and Nottingham.

How do you see the property market faring this year?

I see lettings having a steady growth, regardless of Brexit and fully serviced corporates entering the rental market. Home sales will likely see drops in sale prices, in particular in London postcodes, if EU landlords exit the market en masse.

However, the overall home sales market will see positive growth now the UK has a clearer vision of the future.


Country house or city apartment?

Country house in the city.

Trendy roof terrace or traditional English garden?

A blend of The Secret Garden with a touch of a traditional Japanese garden (Bonsai trees a must) would be the dream.

Would you rather be a free-moving tenant or settled owner occupier?

Settled owner occupier.

What is your favourite room in your home?

Our open-plan lounge – the kitchen is great for hosting the odd soirée!

Homes under the Hammer or Location, Location, Location?

Location, Location, Location.

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