Property Manager Checklist – How to ensure your PM is doing right by you!

There are many property management groups out there and when it comes to your property, you want to make sure you are getting the best possible outcomes. But how do you do that? How do you know if the people you are trusting are doing the right thing? This is something that many landlords go through all of the time and it can be quite stressful. It is for this reason that we have put together this checklist to make sure that your property management team has your back!

Quality control

One of the things that landlords get trapped by all of the time is the price. When looking around for a property management team, it is always tempting to go for the cheaper option. Now this may not always be a bad thing but it is important to know that cheaper doesn’t always mean better for you.

There are many reason that some property management teams can offer lower fees however the most prominent is that they have less expenses. Now this may sound like a good thing for you but when comparing it is important to get all of the details. How large is their team? How many properties do they look after? The reason that you should ask these questions when coming across a price that is ‘too good to be true’ is because it just might be. According to Paycor, Human resources consultants, the cost of staff, can account for as much as 70% of total business costs which means that these low fees may mean that they don’t have the resources to look after their portfolio. Or it could mean that their staff are stretched too thin? Both of which equate to you not getting the quality results you deserve for your property.

Don’t settle for the ‘minimum requirements’

When managing a property, there are certain minimum requirements that are in place to ensure that your property is being looked after. Do not settle for them! If your property management team is doing the bare minimum for you then you need to look elsewhere. Routine inspections for example, are a fantastic way to make sure that the tenants are looking after your place and a great way to keep tabs on the condition of the property. However, under the Residential Tenancy Authorities legislation, routine inspections are not required and are seen as an ‘additional service’. This is something that some property management companies won’t include in those cheaper prices you have your eye on and it may even seem like you are saving money. But for every dollar you pocket on a management company that doesn’t do routine inspections, you are almost certainly going to have to hand back over when those quick fixes are left unnoticed and get out of control.

There are also things that are legally required that some property management companies simply don’t do. From things as simple as making sure that all window cords are secured to the wall, to ensuring that all smoke alarms are working and professionally checked periodically; there are requirements put in place that are integral to the safety of the tenants and landlords that some property management companies seem to skip. Whether that be due to workload or lack of knowledge, there is NO excuse for a property management company to not do their job and they are not the people you want looking after your property.

Keeping the ship sailing

A major part of property management is staying on top of issues and being proactive with potential concerns. It takes a certain level of skill to notice potentially major issues before they eventuate and this is something that most property managers boast that they do but many are just empty words. When it comes to the maintenance and upkeep of your property, being proactive is essential as a reactive property manager is going to cost you. For example, a pipe in your apartment is showing signs of a potential rupture. A proactive property manager will inform you of the damage and advise you that is needs to be fixed and organise quotes for you. But a reactive property manager may not say anything and may not even notice and now that simple fix of replacing a pipe is now thousands of dollars of water damage. This is just one example of how proactive property management is going to save you money and is a perfect example of why you need to make sure your property manager is looking after you.

Another pitfall that many reactive property managers fall into is fixing the same issue over and over. Fixing the same thing over and over just to have to fix it again down the track is a classic way that reactive property manager will waste your money. Now wasting your money is rarely a property manager’s intention; however when they are stuck in this ‘quick fix’ mentality instead of thinking more long term, that is when issues become reoccurring. If there is something in your property that you feel is always being replaced and ‘fixed’ then this is probably a sign that your property manager is thinking reactively instead of proactively and you may need to start thinking of alternative property management.

Let’s talk Money

At the end of the day, your investment property is just that, an investment, and you are looking to get the most return from it. If you are constantly out of pocket due to rent being then you need to find a new property manager. Life happens and sometimes a slightly late rental payment is unavoidable, but at the end of the day if your property manager is not keeping on top of your rent and they can’t at least account for the late payment then they aren’t doing their job. Regardless of the reason, if a payment is late, it should be your property manager’s number one priority to get that money for you as soon as possible. There is no excuse to not get paid and it is unacceptable for a property manager to not at least know why.

We should talk more!

Communication between you and your property manager is something that is essential to the long term success of your property. If you aren’t hearing from you property manager then that should send up red flags that they aren’t looking after your property. This being said there is a balance that is required when talking communication.  Too much communication and you feel harassed and too little and you begin to questions whether your property is being looked after at all. It is this reason that a good property manager will make sure that you are kept in the loop without bombarding you with unimportant information. For example: A good property manager will send monthly updates on what is going on. They will let you know the outcomes of things such as routine inspections and maintenance work. They will be there for you whenever you need and they will NOT avoid you or dodge calls/texts.

Ultimately, you are trusting your property manager to look after your investment and that is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are so many property management companies out there and all of them will promise you the world, the important thing is to determine who is going to deliver on that promise. Do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask question and use this checklist to make sure that the people you trust with your investment, are on your side. Because at the end of the day if you can’t trust your property manager 100%, then they you need to make the switch today!

So it’s a bit of a fixer upper! 5 must do’s when renovating to rent

So you’ve bought your first investment property, you stuck to your budget and the area is just right! The only thing that needs a bit of love is the property… Well not to fear because a little bit of love is much easier than you think!

Renovation can sometimes feel like a big job, and it can be easy to be caught up in all of the ‘renovating hype’, but the trick is to know what needs the love and what doesn’t. Don’t waste thousands of dollars on getting rid of the things that could quite possibly be your best assets! Cherie Barber, renovation expert and founder of Renovating for profit agrees, “You need to know where to spend money.” The verdict is in and the experts agree that the best place to start is with a fresh coat of paint!

A touch of the 21st Century

It is often underestimated, but a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the look of your property. This ‘Liquid Gold’ as Barber says, has the power to completely transform your property. “My number one tip is to paint the whole house, inside and out” she says. This has the power to completely transform your property and bring it into the now!

This tip is something that will undoubtedly help you get that property rented but there is a trick. Don’t do it for you, do it for them! This is something that people forget when they are renovating, this project isn’t for you, it is to make your property more appealing, and thus you need to put your personal opinion aside and look to the market. Even though you may think that the kitchen would look so much better in pink, the average consumer may not agree. It is for this reason that sticking to neutral colours; such as grey, beige and cream, is a sure-fire way to appeal to the masses.

Getting them through the door

The most important part about renting out your property is getting people through the door, and the most important part of getting people through the door is street appeal! You can have an absolute gem but if you can’t get people across the threshold, then your property might as well be invisible. A good façade, on the other hand, can help set the tone for inspections and give a good first impression to potential tenants.

The number one tip when sprucing up the façade of the building is rendering. “If you can afford to renter the whole exterior,” Barber states, “it will instantly modernise your home.” This is something that we definitely recommend however is not possible for everyone. Don’t worry though because there are less drastic things that can help you get that façade looking amazing.

1. Cleanliness is key
Cleaning up the façade is a quick and easy way to get the property looking new! This can be as simple as getting the exterior pressure cleaned or even doing it yourself.

2. Tend to your garden
A bit part of the façade is the front garden and if you have one, you are going to want to make sure it is neat and tidy. This can be as simple and making sure that the grass is mowed and giving the hedges a trim before they get out of control! It doesn’t seem like a lot but it is something that can really make the difference.

3. The finishing touches
This is something that a lot of people forget about but the finishing touches are the things that people notice the most. If you property has a doorbell, make sure it is working. Garage door? Keep those remote batteries charged. A difficult door is not going to give potential tenants a good first impression. These things may seem insignificant and are often overlook during renovation but they are the things that can make or break an inspection.

Good kitchens sell properties

It is a common thought that kitchens sell properties. Although no one thing can outweigh the rest, the kitchen is definitely something that makes a big impact. This being said, you don’t have to start from scratch and most of the time, the kitchen just needs a little bit of love. Jane Eyles-Bennet, award winning interior designer and founder of Hotspace Consultants, believes that a total kitchen redo can sometime be overkill. “You don’t have to spend a fortune on stripping out the whole kitchen and replacing it.” Eyles-Bennet says, “Sometimes we can salvage it by installing a new benchtop, splashback… and replacing the cupboard handles.”

Bring that bathroom back to life

Although admittedly not as important as a food façade and kitchen, the bathroom is definitely something that can influence the outcome of an inspection. Elyse-Bennet believes that, “Once the exterior, kitchen and living spaces have been taken care of, you might get away with a quick bathroom spruce-up.” This is something that is definitely scalable depending on your budget. You can go from replacing all fittings, glass and mirrors, to something as simple as getting the wall and floor tiles sprayed for a modern look.

Light up your life

Once the tenant is in the house and you’ve got everything looking how you want, it is important to make sure that the lighting is just right. It is common for the fittings in older properties to not be replaced and this is something that is going to stand out to potential tenants. This is something that is going to make a huge difference and won’t cost much at all! Now that you have those fitting looking modern and fresh, it is important that the spaces are lit up. This can be achieved in two ways.

1. Natural Light
Natural Light is going to be your best friend come inspection time and is definitely something that potential tenants notice. Make sure that none of your blinds/curtains are blocking out the light and that your windows and clean and bright!

2. Artificial Light
If natural light is scarce make sure that your artificial light is bright enough! A dark room is never going to appeal to a potential tenant so make sure that you check your fittings, find out what the maximum wattage is and get the brightest possible bulbs. Dimmable light fixture are also a good option however this can ramp up the price.

With all of these tips you are certain to get some return on that investment property. You’ve stuck to your budget, the area is just right and now, with these small fixes, you are the best property on the block!

Styling your dream home: design faux pas to avoid at all costs

Over styling

It’s easy to accidentally over decorate your space. One piece of artwork on the wall turns into five, that statement décor piece you bought for your coffee table has somehow multiplied and how did all this furniture get in here? Decluttering your home is an easy fix and allows you and your space to breathe. Less is always more.

Buying into trends

It happens to the best of us. We all want to have up to date, on trend homes – but buying something you see all over magazines and in homewares stores can be a risky move. Trends come and go and once the next big thing is in, you’re left with seemingly outdated pieces mere months after purchasing them. Look for classic, timeless pieces that you won’t need to replace once the fad fizzles out.

Creating a showroom space

When you walk into your home, it should be a reflection of your own personality and style and not look like a shop front. Inject your home with things you love, whether it be art, books, favourite colours or textiles and you’ll be surprised by how much more stylish your space looks – surpassing even the most high end showrooms.

Misplaced artwork

Finding the perfect artwork for your home seems like the hardest part of designing a room – but getting the placement of your art right can make or break your space. Art hung too high or too low disrupt the overall look and feel of the room. Hanging your art at eye level is a foolproof way of making sure your art is attractive and cohesive with your room design.

Too much or not enough lighting

Finding the balance between harsh, fluorescent lights and too dim, yellow light is the secret to a simultaneously bright yet warm room. Using soft white light bulbs on both overhead lighting and floor and table lamps creates an inviting ambience that breathes life into your space.

Top Tips for Buying Your First Investment Property

Have a clear budget
Before investing in property, it is essential to have a detailed understanding of your finances. Getting a loan pre-approved is a crucial first step to building your investment property portfolio, as you know exactly how many funds you are able to receive. Making sure you have a contingency plan in place in case of financial difficulties will make sure your investment journey isn’t cut short.

Buy sought after property
Seek out properties that are in demand! Property in growth areas make for ideal investments, as the demand for accommodation in these suburbs will continue to grow therefore increasing your investment value. Key indicators of investment hotspots include:

  • Easily accessible transport
  • Close to schools or universities
  • Proximity to the city
  • Located in a desired suburb

Appeal to your audience
You want people to want to live in your property. Identifying what your ideal tenant wants will better inform your decision to buy certain properties – consider how many bedrooms or bathrooms are offered, if the property has car parking and if the market price reflects the area and the building itself. If you can appeal to your market’s needs, the better your investment will be.

Building inspections
Before purchasing your property, you need to know the ins and outs of every aspect of your building. You don’t want any unwanted surprises for you or your future tenants – pre-purchase inspections will save you a lot of pain and money down the road. Essential checks include:

  • Ensuring the building is structurally sound
  • Making sure there is no faulty wiring or a lack of smoke alarms installed in the building
  • Checking for hazardous materials such as asbestos
  • Examining sundry structures (sheds, patios, etc.) to make sure they conform to regulations

Set realistic investment goals
It can be easy to get swept up in the prospect of immediately making money from your property, but investing in property isn’t a get rich quick scheme. Researching the current housing and economic market can help to estimate the nature of your returns from your investment. Be prepared to be patient – good things come to those who wait!

Don’t get too invested
Buying a house traditionally is a very personal and emotional experience. It’s where you picture beginning your new life, where you may raise children or grow old with the love of your life. However, buying an investment property requires a level of detachment – thinking with your head and not your heart. It’s easy to get attached to certain properties, but it is crucial to invest in something that will appeal to your ideal tenants and make you the most profit. Coming from a financial perspective is essential when finding a property that best suits your investment goals.