Pre-purchase Appraisals

What is a pre-purchase rental appraisal and why do you need one?

Investing in property has always been a popular wealth creation strategy with Sydney-siders and there’s good reasons for that. But like any investment, there are good investments and bad investments.

With high Sydney property values, it’s more important than ever to ensure your rental income will generate a decent return. After all, you probably need the rent to cover expenses such as loan repayments and rates as well as providing you with additional income.

Therefore, relying on a rental estimate from the selling agent, may not be as accurate as you need because they focus on property values – not rental returns.

That’s why we believe it’s important to invest in an independent, pre-purchase appraisal from a knowledgeable property manager. By independent, we mean a property manager who isn’t trying to win the management because there may be a temptation to over-estimate the rental return.

Instead, we suggest paying for a pre-purchase rental appraisal report that provides accurate, factual data.

What information should be included in a pre-purchase investment property appraisal?

1. Number of rental properties in the area

Demand drives price so if there are lots of properties for rent in the area, rental returns will be lower. For example, in Sydney at the moment, it’s not uncommon for a suburb to have 80+ properties available for lease.

2. Recent rentals gained

Rents in Sydney have changed significantly over the last 2 years. At the end of 2019, rental incomes were much higher than they were in mid-2020. They are now on the rise again. So to know what rental return you can realistically expect, you need to look at what the most recently leased properties in the area are achieving.

3. Local rental property comparisons

Comparing local rental properties with the property you are thinking of buying will give you a more accurate idea of the rental income you can expect to receive. Then you can compare it with your borrowing costs and other expenses to determine if the investment returns are there.

4. Tenant appeal

Minimising vacancy time is crucial to maximising rental income. That’s why it’s important to understand what tenants in the area are looking for and match that with the type of tenant your potential investment property will attract. Number 1 on every tenant’s wish list is air conditioning followed closely by a dishwasher. Then it’s things like modern appliances, cleanliness, space, number of bedrooms and bathrooms etc.

5. Understanding what upgrades may be required now or soon

Purchasing an investment property means you need to cover any immediate or medium-term upgrades and maintenance issues. Knowing what is required before you purchase means you can negotiate harder on the purchase price and make an informed decision on whether the property is the right one for you.

Where to begin?

With over 35 years’ property management experience, you can rely on Brigitte Stills to provide you with a comprehensive and accurate pre-purchase investment property rental appraisal. Her report will cover all of the above factors and provide you with a totally independent assessment of whether purchasing a particular property will be a wise financial decision.

At only $150 + GST, a pre-purchase investment property rental appraisal could be the best investment you make. To find out more or to arrange your appraisal, contact Brigitte on 1300 091 638 or propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


Sell or keep? 5 Factors to consider before selling your investment property

The Sydney rental market is still proving difficult for landlords with many deciding to sell their investment property. But before you make this important decision, you need to consider 5 very important factors.

1. Capital gains tax

Once you have a property appraisal from an agent, you need to talk to your accountant because investment properties can attract capital gains tax. As a result, you may find the after tax proceeds of selling your rental property could be significantly lower than you were hoping for.

2. Vacant or tenanted?

Landlords often ask us if they should sell their investment property with or without a tenant. The answer really depends on your property and it’s location. Some properties attract investors so are more desirable when leased by good tenants.

If your property is more likely to appeal to owner-occupiers, they will often insist on a “vacant possession” clause in the contract. This means your current tenants will need to move prior to settlement.

Remember:  While your investment property is empty, you won’t receive any rental income and this needs to be factored into your budgeting.

3. Tenants’ rights

You may own the property but it’s your tenants’ home. Therefore, they have significant legal rights when it comes to selling your property.

Tenants must be given appropriate notice before your property goes on the market. During opens they are entitled to remain in the property. They can also refuse to have their belongings used in promotional photography. In addition, your tenants are legally entitled to terminate the lease once they are advised you are selling the property.

A successful sale will depend on your tenants’ co-operation should they chose to stay. That’s why it’s important your property manager has a strong relationship with them.

4. Incentivise the inconvenience

If you have ever sold your home, you know how inconvenient it is. The opens disrupt your weekends and there’s always pressure to keep the property looking neat and tidy. If you decide to sell your investment while the tenants are living there, it’s a good idea to offer them a reduction in their weekly rent in return for their co-operation.

5. Could you get back in?

The Sydney property market has it’s highs and lows. At the moment, the rental market is low but according to CoreLogic, the Sydney housing market has increased by 3.7% in March alone. While the first quarter of 2021 has seen Sydney residential prices increase by 6.7%. This means the median house price in Sydney is now $1,112,670 while the median unit price is $755,360.

So ask yourself, if you sell your investment property now, will you realistically be able to invest again? No-one has a crystal ball but it’s worth considering whether you should hang in there until rents return to a more “normal” level or sell now.

Careful thought is needed

If you decide to sell your investment property, you need to ensure your tenants are treated with respect, care and compassion. That’s why the team at Stills Properties believe in open communication and understanding when first advising a tenant that the property is being sold.

It’s also important to have a sales agent who understands the sensitivities of tenants and will work closely with your property manager throughout the selling process. With over 35 years’ experience in selling and managing properties, our founder Brigitte Stills can help you select a great sales agent while guiding you and your tenants through the sales process.

To discuss your options around selling or keeping your investment property, contact Brigitte on 1300 091 638 or email propertymanager@stillsproperties.com.au


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