Is it time to review your property manager?

The slowdown in the current property market has seen more people renting than before. While this is good news for landlords, supply is still out-performing demand, which means the rental market is in the tenant’s favour.

Currently, there are over 2,500 properties for lease on Sydney’s North Shore alone. Property managers certainly have their hands full, but this mustn’t excuse poor service and performance.

Now more than ever, you need to make sure your property manager stacks up in today’s uber-competitive rental market.

From tenant complaints to irregular inspections, there are several signs it’s time to review your property manager.

You have bad tenants or tenant issues. If you find your property manager is continually placing unsuitable tenants who don’t pay their rent on time, or at all, disrespect or damage the property or disregard the neighbours, it’s possible your property manager is not conducting thorough tenant screening and background checks. You should have them explain their tenant screening process and tell them the type of tenant you want in your property. And you should also have them explain their rental arrears management procedure, as missed rent is one of the biggest concerns for landlords.

Your property manager is always changing. High staff turnover is not uncommon in property management, but if you’re frustrated to have a different contact each time you call, chances are your tenant is equally as frustrated. Continuity is key to building trust. Tell your property manager you want to know who is looking after your asset and that you expect a dedicated contact. If they can’t promise this, find out why. You don’t want issues within an agency to impact your property in the long-term.

You have a junior property manager. At the very least, your property manager should be marketing your property, dealing with prospects and tenants, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repair issues and responding to tenant complaints. But they should also provide their expertise; such as property market information, investment property advice and updates on legislation changes. Expertise comes with industry experience, which is unlikely to come from a junior property manager.

You’re managing your property manager. A good property manager should be proactive. If you find you’re having to contact them about your property, request regular updates, confirm when the tenancy agreement expires, ask when the smoke detector was last checked, or make sure your property is covered by the right insurance, you need to seriously consider finding a new property manager. Your time is your money. You shouldn’t need to spend time to make sure they’re on top of things at your property.

You receive irregular inspection reports. Periodic, routine inspections tell you and the property manager the condition of your property, how the tenants are looking after the property, if there are any maintenance issues or repairs that need to be addressed and if there are any issues from the tenant. They’ll also tell you how many people are living in your property. If you’re not receiving regular inspection reports or a regular monthly report, you need to know why. This is an important task for your property and the tenant, which should happen at least once every six months.  

You don’t trust their accounting. Your property is a source of income, so you should feel confident you’re receiving every dollar you’re entitled to. Property managers are responsible for holding money for you and the tenants and ensuring the right funds go into the right accounts. Trust accounting requires expert attention to detail. If you have any doubts or questions about your property manager’s record-keeping and accounting processes, you must raise this with them directly and have them take you through it until you feel confident. While spending time to review your property manager might seem like a hassle in the short-term, making sure you have the best property manager looking after your investment will give you peace of mind and cost savings in the long-run.

Need more information?

Stills Properties has been managing investment properties for Sydney landlords for over 30 years, contact us to discuss your investment property management needs.


How to make your property stand out in an oversupplied rental market

Recently, I met with the owner of a two-bedroom apartment in Neutral Bay who was struggling to attract tenants. He pointed to the flood of new properties in the area and believed his older apartment wouldn’t be able to compete in an oversupplied rental market.

While an oversupply means renters have more choice and bargaining power, as the landlord, the onus is on you to ensure your property stands out and is worth bargaining for.

Here are seven ways to make your property stand out in an oversupplied rental market to secure a great tenant and fetch the highest rent possible:

1. Create great first impressions, inside and out

First impressions matter when a prospective tenant inspects your property. Inspecting tenants are more attracted and willing to pay the asking price for a well-presented property.

While inside should be tidy and uncluttered, the outside is typically the first thing people see. So, it’s important to take into account the exterior of the property, including the lawn, paths, railings, gutters, and fencing.

If you own a strata unit, you should consider the condition of the common property, such as the foyer, stair wells, elevators, driveways and gardens. Speak with the owner’s corporation to ensure repairs and maintenance are upheld. The state of the building will influence the way prospective tenants perceive your unit.

2. Make it sparkle

Set a high standard of cleanliness. Make sure the property is clean, fresh, and hygienic in your listing photographs and on inspection day. The new tenant will know the condition the property must be in when they hand back the keys.

Consider having the carpets and window coverings professionally cleaned and removing grime and dust from windows and fly screens to allow in more light.

Rid the property of any odours, such as cigarette or pet smells, which can be easily detected by inspecting tenants.

2. Enhance the best features

Use professional photos to capture the features of your property in the best light and from the best angle. Professionally photographed properties stand out online; they grab the attention of prospective tenants, drive more enquiries and can result in getting your property leased faster.

To gain an even greater edge in a competitive market, you may want to consider property styling to enhance the ambience and functionality of your property – virtual stylists are an easy and affordable option.  

Stylists and experienced real estate photographers understand what appeals to tenants and know how to enhance the attractiveness of your property to maximise your listing.

3. Focus on the strengths

Marketing the property with an accurate description is essential but it’s also important to include stand out qualities of the property.

While you must include the essentials such as the number of rooms, specific features and rent cost, your description should also include attractive features that will appeal to a broad segment of tenants. This may include views, family-friendly street, proximity to transport, easy access to shops, schools, hospitals and other amenities.

If you’ve recently renovated, upgraded the appliances, or installed a pet door, make it known. This additional information could set your property apart from the one around the corner.

4. Fix what is broken

Make sure your property – from the front path to the back fence – is in good working condition. Which would you choose if you had the choice to rent a property in need of repair or one in perfect working order?

Fixing what is broken and doing small repairs and maintenance prior to inspection could prevent a bigger, more costly problem down the line. And could also cause less interruption and frustration for the tenant.

5. Tend to the small things

While tenants tend to prefer a new property, well-renovated and well-kept homes are often equally as appealing. Tending to the small, but important aspects of your property can add value.

If your property is tired and dated, interior cosmetic renovations are a cost-effective way to refresh the look and feel of your rental. This could include giving drab walls a fresh coat of paint, replacing well-worn carpet and updating lighting and other fixtures. These small things can add to the appeal of your property and potentially increase rent.

Before beginning any cosmetic renovation it’s a good idea to seek advice from your property manager about which improvements will deliver the best return.

6. Know the rules

Even in a competitive rental market it’s crucial that all aspects of your property meet current regulations, safety guidelines and efficiency standards. This includes pool fences, railings, balconies, blinds, windows, smoke detectors, and electrical and water. It’s important that you make certain all are in adequate working order prior to having new tenants. Ensure that all electrical wiring and power points are safe, including electrical appliances to be included in the tenancy. And be sure to take out comprehensive insurance cover on the property prior to the inspection, including public liability. Your property manager will be able to advise you of the laws relevant to your property.

I’m Brigitte Stills of Stills Properties. Contact me on 0419 426 038 if you’re looking for, or have, a property for let. Or, if you’re an Agent/Property Manager searching for more tips on how to succeed in a difficult rental market with pro-active marketing of the properties on your rent-roll.


Is your property manager outsourcing services?

Australian companies have been outsourcing services for years, especially big brands and large corporations.

In recent years, small business has jumped on the band wagon to use onshore and offshore outsourcing with the aim to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

Outsourcing is now common across many industries and increasingly in the real estate sector, particularly property management. Some real estate industry insiders suggest it’s the ‘way of the future’.

While the property management sector may well be heading this way, is it necessarily good for the end-customers? You, the landlord and your tenants?

First, let’s look at what outsourcing is

Outsourcing involves a business hiring an external party – individual or company – or using an application to provide services or manage operations that were typically performed in-house. Sometimes this includes engaging the services of an overseas provider or a party closer to home.

Many property management outsourcing companies promise back office support that takes care of the time intensive tasks and frees up the property managers to focus on growing the business.

But outsourcing is not a silver bullet for business pain points. Professional property management requires more than just back office and administrative support. It involves communication to build relationships and trust.

The main concern with outsourcing property management services

Landlords entrust property managers with the upkeep of their investments. For this reason, it’s essential they know who is actually managing their property – the main concern with the increase in agents turning to outsourcing is the lack of transparency.

I’m a property manager, and I’m also a landlord. Recently, I discovered that the property manager for one of my properties located interstate was outsourcing repairs and maintenance services to a third party and using freelance trades to make repairs.

As the property owner, I want to decide who looks after my best interests and that of my tenant’s. It’s the landlord’s decision, so it’s our right to know.

If you’re unsure who is actually managing your property, raise it with your property manager.

If you discover that your property manager outsources or offshores services to a third party, understand what this means to you and know the impacts:

  • Your information may be passed on to a third party – make sure you know who has your information and how it is being used.
  • Your tenants may not know who is managing the property – they may be at a loss to know who to call when they have a question or concern.
  • Your tenant’s repairs and maintenance requests may not be carried out accurately or at the best rate, costing you time and money.
  • The third party may be carrying out non-back-office and non-administrative services such as tenant screening, lease negotiation and inspections. If so, the decisions made by the third party, such as maximising rent, may not be in your best interest.
  • Your property manager may not be properly overseeing the performance of the third party.
  • Your property manager may not be nurturing the relationship with the tenant which may result in shorter tenancies.

Need more information?

Stills Properties has been managing investment properties for Sydney landlords for over 30 years, contact us to discuss your investment property management needs.


Pro-active Property Manager succeeds in tough rental landscape

Every Property Manager will easily recognise the snapshot above is from Domain’s website. From 12/09/18. It’s current. This is Sydney’s rental market right now.

I’d hazard a guess that most of our current generation of Property Managers have never experienced a market as difficult as this in which to let property. Stills Properties has been around a while and I can remember the bad old days of 2006 when we all struggled to let property across the board.

Thinking back on those difficult times I wanted to share some thoughts on how we, as Property Managers and Agents, might help ourselves and our clients through the current difficulties.

Let’s all be more Pro-active in our search for reliable tenants!

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Managing you own Investment Property – why would you?

What price a headache?

“Save money,” they say.  “It’s easy,” they say.  “Anyone can do it,” they say.  On the face of it, ‘they’ appear to have a point.  On the face of it!  Scratch the Investment Property surface however and there’s a whole untold story behind those glib statements.

Time is Money

At Stills Properties we get it – property investors want to make money, not spend it.  But how valuable is your time?  The old adage ‘time is money’ never rang more true than when it comes to managing your own investment property, because how much of your family time are you prepared to commit to:

* Dealing with late-paying tenants?
* Evicting a bad tenant?
* Finding a new tenant when the current one leaves?
* Performing regular property inspections?
* Organising necessary repairs?
* Keeping up-to-date with applicable legislation?

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