One of Britain's most famous property investors, Samantha Collett, has given a huge pat on the back to letting agents.
In her latest book Collett - a columnist in the London Evening Standard and creator of the award-winning property blog What Sam Saw Today - describes good agents as worth their weight in gold.
Her advice on what landlords should look for in a good agent, and why they should avoid basing a decision to select an agent purely on cost terms, will be familiar to industry insiders. But one of her techniques for selection may raise eyebrows - it's by using mystery shopping'.
More precisely, Collett advises landlords to contact agents by telephone claiming to be a prospective tenant.
Time how long it takes for them to answer the phone and connect you to the right person. Ask lots of questions about the property and test how they respond she advises.
How much knowledge does the agent have How interested do they sound How helpful are they Do they make you want to view the property she suggests.
Collett then advises you to note a score for the agent and try the next one. Do this for three afents and compare your notes. Which agent made you feel they wanted your business
Agents - be careful next time that phone rings...
Property Investment: The Essential Rules by Samantha Collett, published by Constable & Robinson, £9.99p