How to Choose a Property Manager

6 Questions you should ask before choosing a property manager

When you purchase an investment property it’s tempting to ask the selling agent’s company to manage it for you. But are their property managers the right fit for you?

You may not be aware but the property sales team usually operates independently from the property management team – even if they share the same office space. So just because you had a good experience with a sales agent, doesn’t mean their property management team will be your best option.

When it comes to property management, it’s important to select your manager with care. After all, buying an investment property is a medium to long-term investment. You’ve probably spent a great deal of time and effort finding the right property. So shouldn’t you invest a bit more time finding the right property manager?

Here are the top 6 questions we think you should ask when choosing your property manager.

1. How long have you been a property manager?

While it’s great to give people a chance, your investment property is a very valuable asset and it’s important it’s managed by a knowledgeable and experienced property manager. It’s even more essential at times like this when the rental market is a little uncertain.

2. How long have you been working with this agency?

It’s an unfortunate trend that property managers tend to stay with an agency for a couple of years at most. While large agencies will have other staff to fill the void, the reality for you is, with regular staff turnover, there’s no-one who knows your property or understands your tenant. That includes your tenant’s history and the condition of your property at the commencement of the lease. That’s not a good way to manage such an important asset.

3. How many properties do you look after?

In property management circles, there is an optimum number of properties that an individual should manage. When a property manager has too many properties in their care, they simply can’t attend to tenant complaints or maintenance problems promptly. They may also struggle to identify late rental payments as quickly as you need.

When evaluating property managers, ask yourself, do you want your investment property to be managed with care or be placed in a queue before issues are dealt with?

4. How do you vet potential tenants?

Tenant selection is critically important. You want someone who will treat your investment property with care and who plans to live there for a few years. You also want tenants who can afford the rent, won’t sub-lease to others and will pay their rent on time.

It takes time to investigate and screen potential tenants. So before selecting a property manager, ask them about their tenant vetting process to ensure they do a thorough job.

5. Do you have happy landlords?

Good property managers have happy landlords. It’s that simple. Once you have refined your potential property manager options to just one or two candidates, ask to see testimonials from their landlords.

6. Do you have happy tenants?

Good property managers also look after tenants. They are responsive to tenant enquiries and they work with them to ensure they are happy because content tenants stay longer in your rental property. Happy tenants are also more likely to renew their lease and take care of your investment. When you have refined your property manager search to just one or two candidates, ask them if they have any testimonials from happy tenants.

An obvious choice

Brigitte from Stills Properties has been looking after landlords and their tenants for over 35 years. With that much experience, you can feel confident she must be doing something exceptional – and she is.

Brigitte knows every property, every landlord and every tenant. She personally conducts each property inspection and understands the complexities of NSW tenancy laws. If you would like your investment property managed by someone who really cares, contact Brigitte from Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


It’s competitive out there! How do you make your investment property shine?

Like all markets, the rental property market has it’s ups and downs. The ups come about when there are more tenants than properties for rent. The downs happen because there is an abundance of properties available for rent.

With over 35 years’ experience, we’ve seen it all. There are no surprises but there are some invaluable tips we’ve picked up along the way. Here are 3 to help you lease your investment property faster.

Tip 1:  Market your property like it’s toothpaste!

In the current market, tenants can afford to be discerning. They will go from one property to another looking for the biggest bang for their buck and the property that best fits their needs. That means you need to be savvy with how you market your property – by understanding what type of tenant will be attracted to its qualities and promoting it accordingly. It also means the advertising and presentation needs to fit what they’re looking for.

Tip 2:  Inspect your investment property regularly!

Over time, wear and tear happens to every property. It’s likely you’ve experienced it in your own home and it’s the same with your rental property. If you haven’t visited your investment for 12 months or more, ask to inspect it now. You may be surprised by what you find and importantly, you’ll see how potential tenants will view it. Then visit a similar property in your area and ask yourself, how do they compare. That’s what your potential tenants are doing.

Tip 3:  Listen to your managing agent and get another opinion if it doesn’t sound right

If you trust your property manager, listen to their advice. Why? Because your property manager should be an expert in leasing properties. If he or she recommends you do some upgrades, maintenance or repairs before going to market, then you probably should. Alternatively, if you don’t trust your property manager, get another opinion and see if you receive the same advice.

Keep your eye of the prize

No-one wants an empty investment property – not you or your managing agent. So you need to ensure your property is appealing to high quality, potential tenants. That means having a well presented and maintained property that’s cleverly marketed.

At Stills Properties, we’re experts in finding the right tenant for our landlords’ investment properties. If you are currently DIYing the management of your investment property or, you’re not sure your current property manager is looking after you, get in touch by emailing propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au or call Brigitte on 1300 091 638.


With a tenant in place, could you manage your own investment property?

When budgets are tight, it’s important to look at ways to trim expenses. For people with investment properties, it may be tempting to look at whether you really need a property manager – especially if you already have a tenant in place. But be careful. Recently, we met a landlord who is self-managing her investment property and now she’s found it’s cheaper to engage a property manager.

Here’s her story.

I wanted to trim our family expenses so I thought I would take over managing our investment property. After all, we had a tenant in place and he’d been there for a while without any problems.

A few weeks later, our tenant asked for a rental discount – not because he was in financial distress, but because he said ‘everyone else is’. The last thing we wanted was a vacant property so we agreed to his request even though it was a significant strain on our family budget.

The following week, the tenant requested changes to the conditions in the current rental agreement. We’re only part way through the lease!

I didn’t know what to do so I began searching online, trying to understand tenancy laws and how they applied in my situation. I spent hours and hours trying to figure it out. I couldn’t find an answer and meanwhile the tenant kept bugging me for changes.

I thought managing our investment property myself would help our family budget. But now I’m losing sleep, time with my kids and money.

If this happened to one of our landlords, this is what we would do:

  1. When the tenant asked for a rent reduction, we would investigate his claims. If he wasn’t experiencing financial distress, we would explain the rules around financial hardship eligibility and why he didn’t qualify.
  2. Before a lease is signed, there is some room to negotiate. Once the lease commences, both landlord and tenant are legally bound to the conditions in that lease (taking into consideration the changes implemented due to COVID-19). At Stills Properties, we take the time to educate each tenant on their rights and obligations under the tenancy agreement. Then, if a tenant asked for conditions to be changed mid-way through the lease, we would explain why that isn’t possible.

Our philosophy

Tenancy law is complicated, constantly evolving and now has some temporary changes due to COVID-19. As property managers, it’s our job to keep up with these changes so we can advise our landlords and tenants accordingly. Not only that, property management fees are usually tax deductible which means there are financial advantages in asking a professional to manage your investment property.

The rental market is challenging at the moment so now more than ever, landlords need the help and advice of their property manager.

If you are currently self-managing your investment property or simply looking for an experienced property manager, talk to Brigitte from Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Why are we letting technology take care of our investment properties?

If you have owned an investment property for a while, you may have built a good, solid relationship with your property manager. But have you noticed you are receiving more automatically generated emails lately?

From an agency perspective, property management is changing. Increasingly, property managers are relying on automation to communicate with landlords to reduce overheads and increase agency profits.

But what about the landlord?

Or the tenant for that matter? What happened to:

  • Conversations with your property manager?
  • The ability to ask questions?
  • Personal service?

In the chase for larger margins, the human side of property management is being lost and at Stills Properties, we think that’s wrong and really sad.

Click to respond

We were recently speaking with a landlord who had enjoyed a great relationship with their property manager for many years, but then she left and the “robots” took over.

Now, the landlord receives automatically generated emails asking for instructions. One of them simply said:

Repair required. Please click the link below.

Repair to curtain rod required

  • Do you wish to have this repair carried out?
  • Require a quote?
  • Require more information?
  • Not proceed with the repair?

Or this one:

Your tenancy agreement is coming to an end.

  • Do you wish to renew your tenants agreement?
  • Do you require more information?
  • No, you do not wish to renew?

The landlord wanted to know why they had to tick a box to ask for an opportunity to speak with their property manager. We agree!

Managing properties is a “people” industry and your investment property is a significant investment. That’s why we believe you should be able to call or email us if you have a question, concern or are looking for advice.

It’s the same with tenants. They need to know there is someone they can speak to if they have a problem, concern or question.

Automated emails put agency profits first but at Stills Properties, we put people first.

Do you feel like a number or a valued client?

Technology has its place. There’s no disputing that. But it should never replace personalised, customer service. That’s why your investment property will be personally managed by our founder, Brigitte Stills.

So if you would like to be treated like a valued client, contact Brigitte from Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


How do you lease your investment property during a pandemic?

A good return on your investment property requires a long-term, high quality tenant. But COVID-19 has changed everything and the border closures haven’t helped. Now, the rental property market is flooded with short term rental properties that used to accommodate tourists – especially in Sydney. As a result, competition is strong.

So the question is, how do you find great tenants during a pandemic?

1. First impressions

Like everything in life, first impressions count. It’s the same with renting your investment property – and it starts with the online photos you use to promote your property. Amateur photography won’t be good enough. You need to invest in a photographer who knows what they are doing and can provide advice.

2. Understand what your ideal tenant is looking for

If your investment property is a 3 bedroom home with spacious garden, your ideal tenant won’t be single. A one bedroom apartment won’t appeal to a family of 4. You need to thoroughly understand what potential tenants are looking for and target your advertising to those who are the best fit for your property.

3. Know the flaws and fix them!

The rental market is competitive at the moment so you need to ensure your property is in impeccable condition. Before you go to market, be critical of your property. Are there any faults or flaws that could put off a great tenant? Do you have any outstanding repairs or maintenance issues that need attention? It’s a tenant’s market at the moment and this trend will continue for some time. As a result, tenants can be fussy and will compare your property with others that are on the market.

4. Have flexible opens

Most Sydney property managers only carry out 1 or 2 open homes per week and these opens only last for 15 minutes.  At Stills Properties, we fit in with viewers by offering morning or evening opens which run for 30 minutes, if required. By being flexible, we’re more likely to secure a great tenant – fast.

How long do you want your investment property to be on the market?

With over 35 years’ experience in property management, Brigitte Stills may not have experienced a pandemic. But she has seen the market through many ups and downs. As a result, she understands what it takes to find a long-term, high quality tenant in the shortest possible time. That’s why Brigitte’s landlords have been with her for so many years.

At Stills Properties, we currently have lease turnarounds of 3-7 days since COVID-19 began. Can your current property manager say that?

To quickly find the right tenant for your investment property, ccontact Brigitte Stills from Stills Properties on 1300 091 638 or email brigitte@stillsproperties.com.au