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Investment Property taking longer than expected to lease?

You’ve carried out some minor alterations or renovations, and you’re now wondering how long you can expect to be waiting for the right tenant?  But, in today’s market conditions, there are other, more important questions you should be asking yourself first:

  • When did you last upgrade your appliances?
  • Do you know the current vacancy rate in your location?
  • What comments, positive and negative, are viewers making about your rental property?
  • What is the feedback and advice from your managing agent?
  • Is the rental fee you’re asking for competitive with similar properties in the area?
  • Have you reviewed your advertising to ensure best possible presentation of your property?
  • How pro-active is your agent in marketing the property and finding tenants?

Answering these questions will help you understand the current state of the rental market in your specific area.

Right now we’re in a very unusual 2-speed rental property market.  House rents have quickly bounced back and are again reaching record high fees.  Unit rents, having fallen sharply, remain depressed in comparison to the returns previously enjoyed.

There are two glaringly obvious reasons for the disparity – covid and over-supply.  Around the same time that covid struck in early 2020, the unit rental market was already starting to feel the negative effects of a glut of new developments becoming available.  The combined effect of pandemic and rapid development has dramatically changed the scope of the rental market, not just in Sydney, but across Australia.

I’ve been in property management for many years and haven’t encountered a market like this since 2001 when, shortly after the Sydney Olympics, close to 20,000 properties were suddenly available for lease in the metropolitan area.

Owning a rental property can be tough, yet Stills Properties continues to successfully find good quality tenants to lease our properties.  For us it comes down to understanding the market, our clients and what your competitors are doing to lease their properties – and that’s where our years of experience pays off for you.

We bring a tried and tested professional set of tools to the rental process, combined with a lot of hard work and plenty of determination.  Finding your ideal tenant requires good exposure and marketing – things you and your managing agent need to be thinking about.

If you want your investment property rented quickly, contact Brigitte Stills at Stills Properties on 0419 426 038 – don’t waste another week waiting and wondering, call today.


Ready to be a landlord? Answer these 6 questions to find out

It can be hard to be unemotional about your investment property – especially if you have decorated it with care or worked hard to buy it.

At Stills Properties, we love well renovated properties with beautiful fixtures and fittings. In fact we always emphasis these features in our professionally taken advertising photography because it helps to secure high quality tenants.

But the bottom line is, your rental property is an investment so your primary concern should be the financial returns you receive.

To check if you are ready to be a landlord, ask yourself these 6 questions:

  1. Do you have an emotional connection to your investment property?
  2. Are you giving your agent instructions on what your tenant can or can’t do?
  3. Did you leave any personal items in the property which the tenant will use?
  4. Do you feel you need to check on the tenant to see how things are going?
  5. Have you asked your neighbours to “keep an eye” on the tenant?
  6. Have you renovated the property with your personal choices?

When seeking the perfect tenant, we look for a tenant who is suited to your investment property in every way, including:

  • Can they pay their rent?
  • Do they have good employment?
  • Do they have any financial backing or savings?
  • Do they have references and what do these references say about them?
  • Is the tenant looking for longevity or do they tend to relocate often?
  • Checking all potential tenants’ rental histories through the TICA database

What happens after we find the right tenant for your property?

Once we have selected the right tenant for your property and obtained your approval, you need to leave the rest to us. Our founder, Brigitte Stills has been managing Sydney properties for over 35 years so she knows what she’s doing.

Importantly, we don’t just hand over the keys to the tenant and let them loose on your investment property. We have very firm expectations on how we expect our tenants to maintain a property. This is explained to them in detail before handing over the keys.

We also follow up with an inspection 3 months after the tenant moves in, just to check everything is OK with them and to double check they know what’s expected.

After that, we conduct regular, routine property inspections. After each one, we provide you, the landlord, with a report. This report outlines the presentation and cleanliness of the property as well as the ongoing suitability of the tenant. So even if you are a nervous, first time landlord, you should be able to feel at ease. In addition, we recommend all landlords inspect their rental property at least once a year.

Property management you can trust

Our landlords tend to stay with us for a long time because they know we are looking out for their properties and will work hard to ensure they receive a good return on their investment.

They also appreciate that at Stills Properties, Brigitte personally inspects every property so she can identify and remedy any problems with the way the tenant is caring for your investment. Our landlords also accept that their rental property is their tenant’s home so there will be some wear and tear on the fixtures and fittings – just like in their own home.

For a property manager who will genuinely care for your investment, call 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Property Upgrades

Preparing your home for rent or sale? We can help.

Sometimes people become landlords because they are moving interstate or to a regional area. Others become landlords on behalf of their aging parents who might be moving to supported care. In either case, it can be difficult to know where to start – especially if you suspect the property may need some updates to maximise rental returns.

But that’s actually one of the ways Stills Properties can help. In fact our founder, Brigitte Stills, became a property manager when she couldn’t find a conscientious person to manage her own home while her husband was posted overseas.

That was over 30 years ago and since then, Brigitte has dedicated her career to advising landlords on ways to reduce vacancy rates and increase rental income.

So what do you do as a first-time landlord?

 1. Acknowledge the imperfections of your home

Most properties need refreshing before they go to market. In older homes, it’s common for kitchens and bathrooms to need some improvements. You also need to consider whether painting, a garden makeover, new window furnishings and/or new flooring are required.

2. Get expert advice

Renovating a home doesn’t necessarily mean you need to demolish entire rooms and spend a fortune. Frequently, there are less expensive options and superficial changes that can greatly improve the appeal of your property. That’s where experience really counts.

At Stills Properties, we offer an advisory service to guide landlords on what needs to be done now and what may need to be done in the medium term. We’ll assist you in selecting fixtures and fittings that provide the greatest appeal for a cost effective investment. We can also give you a list of trusted and highly experienced trades who will assist you in a timely manner.

3. Is your property compliant?

Along with your property’s aesthetics, you need to ensure it’s compliant. This includes checking safety switches and smoke detectors are working as well as having an Electrical Safety Certificate. Again, we can provide you with contact details of qualified and efficient electricians, if required.

Comprehensive Project & Property Management

Some landlords find the thought of supervising the renovation of their property quite overwhelming but that’s something we do to assist our landlords. It means we can match all upgrades and renovations to the most appropriate tenant profile for your property. It also means there’s no money wasted on unnecessary improvements. Instead, you can be sure you are investing in the right areas to increase rental returns and minimise vacancy times.

So if you are a first-time landlord who’s seeking advice and a conscientious property manager, ask Brigitte for a rental appraisal of your property. Call 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Advertising your property

Selling or renting – It’s how you advertise your property that counts!

Regardless of whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, you’re probably aware there is stiff competition to secure a good tenant. With so many apartments and units for lease, landlords need to present their property in the most positive light to stand out from the crowd – and it begins with your online advertising.

First impressions begin online!

No-one wants to waste time looking at properties that won’t fit their needs. As a result, potential tenants do a lot of online pre-screening of rental properties. This means you need to ensure your property is marketed in the best possible light.

After searching for criteria such as location, off-street parking and numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, tenants look for things like:

  • How will my furniture fit in this property?
  • How big are the rooms?
  • Is there sufficient storage for my needs?
  • Will it be a good fit for myself and my family?

That’s why the team at Stills Properties often suggest landlords invest in professional preparation of a floorplan for their property. In a competitive market, providing this level of detail will help your property hit the top of a potential tenant’s inspection list.

In addition, property styling has now become important as it helps potential tenants visualise where their furniture will go and the lifestyle they will enjoy while living in your property. For vacant properties, Stills Properties recommends investing in “virtual styling”. This is where furniture is added to the advertising photos using specialist software tools.

Photos that sell don’t come from a phone!

Many property managers still use their smart phone to take photos of investment properties. While it may save landlords money in the short-term, it will damage their income stream in the medium-term.

Image is everything when it comes to potential tenants choosing to attend an open of your property. The more people who attend, the faster you will lease it. Therefore, having great photography is essential. In fact it’s been proven to reduce vacancy times over and over again. In turn, this increases the revenue you’ll receive from your investment property.

5 Questions you should ask your property manager

When marketing your investment property, potential tenants are attracted to ads with flair – that showcase a property in the best light. Great tenants will also evaluate whether the property suits their design style, furniture and lifestyle. These things go beyond simple search criteria so when choosing your property manager, ask them:

  1. What’s your strategy for marketing my rental property?
  2. Which advertising platforms will you use?
  3. Why do you prefer these platforms?
  4. How will you make my investment property stand out from others in my area?
  5. Who will take the photos?

Professional from start to finish

Great tenants want their rental experience to be easy. It starts with finding the right property for them and continues with the experience they have with their property manager. That’s why it’s so important to choose your property manager carefully.

At Stills Properties, we have over 35 years’ property management experience and we have always ensured our landlord clients have the shortest possibly vacancy rates. To learn more about how we would market your rental property to minimise any vacancy time, call Brigitte on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Tips for leasing in tough times

The Sydney rental market has been tough for landlords – especially over the last 12 months. But that shouldn’t mean your property remains vacant for weeks or months at a time. Instead, it calls for a more responsive approach to the concerns of tenants and what they are looking for.

Here are our 5 tips for landlords to ensure rental success.

Tip 1:  Critically evaluate your investment property

It can be hard to be objective about your own property but in a competitive market, it’s a vital step because it’s what every prospective tenant is doing.

General appearance and maintenance issues such as peeling paint, bold paint colours, weeds in the garden and aging appliances will each negatively impact a prospective tenant’s first impression of your property. If you want to attract good tenants, you need to invest in property maintenance and upkeep. The good news is, these things are often tax deductible against your rental income.

Tip 2:  Look at your numbers!

What’s better – a slightly lower rent than you’d like or no rent at all? As a landlord, this is the question you need to ask yourself. Of course higher rents mean more income for you. However, if properties aren’t achieving the same rents as before due to things like a sluggish economy, then surely considering a lower weekly rental income is better than none at all.

The property market has peaks and troughs so accepting a lower rent now doesn’t mean it will be low forever. It may simply be for a year or 2. In the meantime, the overall value of your investment property should continue to increase – helping you achieve your medium-long term financial goals.

Tip 3:  Look after your existing tenants

Having a property manager who is responsive to your tenant’s enquiries along with prompt attention to any maintenance concerns, will make it much easier to keep your existing tenant when it’s time to renew their lease.

With rental prices dropping in some areas of Sydney, you may need to consider a rental reduction instead of a rental increase at renewal time. But remember, keeping good tenants is far better for your hip pocket than an empty investment property for weeks or months at a time!

Tip 4 – For landlords managing their own property:  Know the legislation!

Over the last 12 months, there have been many changes to the Tenancy Act – especially in light of COVID-19.

Tenants are often highly knowledgeable about their rights so it’s easy to find yourself with a tricky situation if you don’t follow the regulations to the letter. In addition, it’s expected there will be further changes to the legislation as the economic effects of COVID-19 continue. Keeping up-to-date with these changes can be challenging so perhaps it’s time to consider engaging a property manager to help you.

Tip 5:  Evaluate your property manager

Both tenants and landlords need to have a close working relationship with the property manager. A good property manager should be a landlord’s advisor and the tenant’s mentor on how to care for your investment property.

In sluggish markets, your property manager also needs to be innovative; finding new ways to attract and retain great tenants. So how is your current property manager responding to your calls or the concerns of your tenants? The answer to this question could really determine the income you can expect from your investment property over the next 12 months.

Is it time to look at your options?

If you haven’t used a property manager before, or if you would like a second opinion about how your investment should be managed, talk to Brigitte Stills. With over 35 years’ property management experience, she’s seen every type of market fluctuation.

With all that experience, she knows how to make a property stand out as well as how to evaluate and select the right tenant. To explore your options, contact Brigitte from Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au