New agencies are popping up everywhere these days and it has never been easier for landlords to jump ship and try a new agency. In Queensland under the new legislation, it is only 30 days before a landlord can change to a new agency if the property is tenanted, but if the property is vacant the change can literally happen overnight.
There are many reasons why landlord changes agencies and you can check out some of my previous blogs for more information on this topic like, Why Budget Agency Doesn’t Mean Best or The Three Strikes You’re Out, which addresses the top reasons landlords leave an agency.
Researching for a new agency has also changed thanks to the internet and digital marketing. Once upon a time most landlords were either referred by somebody they know or passed on through the sales process, nowadays the first place landlord’s go is to google and then reviews. Our tips to help Choose The Right Real Estate Agency.
When looking for a new agency there are certain questions every Landlord should ask when interviewing for a new property manager and every property manager should have their answers ready to go.
15 QUESTIONS EVERY LANDLORD SHOULD ASK THEIR PROPERTY MANAGER
- What are your business core values?
- What are your fees?
- How do you screen a tenant?
- Who will be managing my property and how much experience do they have?
- Where do you advertise for rent?
- How often do you show tenants through a property?
- Is your agency local to my property?
- How often do you hold routine inspections?
- What is your maintenance procedure?
- What do you do if a tenant stops paying rent?
- What do you do for debt collection?
- Are you a portfolio or task-based property management?
- If I call/ contact you when should I expect a reply?
- How many properties do your property managers manage?
- Do you offer flexible rental payments?
15 ANSWERS EVERY PROPERTY MANAGER SHOULD HAVE READY TO GO
Q. What are your business core values?
A. Get clear on who you are as a business and a brand. What do you stand for, if you’re a business owner, does your team know what your values, vision, and mission are? For example, our business core values are based on customer service, communication, teamwork, and innovation. Some people call this your value proposition, basically you want to let prospective new landlord’s know what value you are going to offer them, that their previous agency didn’t or that the next agency they speak with won’t.
Q. What are your fees?
A. Have your fees written down and make sure you understand why you are charging them as well. For example, if you are charging a lease renewal fee, why? “Because we conduct market research and provide you with a proper rent review, not just leave the rent the same as it is, we want to ensure you are maximising your return on the investment”. Have an answer for each fee and know whether or not you will be in a position to discount any of them, try to stand by your service delivery and not discount, but in certain circumstances like the owner has multiple properties you may have no other option.
Q. How do you screen a tenant?
A. This should be standard for most agencies. Assuring your landlord that you conduct a diligent and thorough screening of tenants is ultra important, every landlord has had a nightmare tenant. Rental reference, employment reference checks, confirmation of income, National tenancy default database checks like TICA are all standard across the board. We have also added social media as another check in the screening process.
Q. Who will be managing my property and how much experience do they have?
A. Generally speaking, Landlords only want to have one key person to deal with when confronted with issues with their property. So be clear on who it is they will be dealing with (ideally one senior property manager) and experience is key. The last thing a landlord wants is to know is one of their biggest financial investments is being looked after by somebody with little or no experience. If you have a young team then it could be pitched that the owner/principal is the key contact.
Q. Where do you advertise for rent?
A. All agencies should be advertising on major rental website portals including realestate.com.au and Domain that’s a no brainer. Gone are the days of simply putting up a sign at the property. It is also time when answering this question, to touch on the importance of how you present your property for rent to ensure the properties online presence showcases it in its best light. Professional quality photos are a must, deleting any unflattering photos of the property or rooms, spending time on a good headline and copy to highlight the best selling points is often overlooked, but in my view are essential elements in completing the presentation of the property and making it stand out from the crowd online.
Q. How often do you show tenants through the property?
A. This is different for every agency, of course, some prefer ‘by appointment only’ others prefer ‘open homes’. In our response to owners, we like to offer all opportunities to rent the property as quickly as possible for them. As a rule of thumb, we hold two open homes per week for vacant properties (one for tenanted), however, if a qualified potential tenant wants to view the property at another time, we will certainly accommodate them. At the end of the day we are in the business of renting properties, we have a goal of renting properties within two weeks.
Q. Is your agency local to my property?
A. It is very hard to rent properties and reduce vacancy periods if you aren’t local to the area you are renting a property in. Believe me, I’ve tried it previously and sold off my rent roll in those areas not central to my core business. So, if you aren’t a local agency you need to answer the concerns a landlord might have. Like will there be a delay finding a tenant, if something goes wrong how quickly will you be able to respond etc? Luckily we are running property management in the digital era and many software tools can assist in allowing the day to day management to run smoothly, it is just the physical aspects you will have to have solutions for.
Q. How often do you hold routine inspections?
A.Each state has different rules around the frequency of routine inspections. Ensure the landlord that you will meet the legislative requirements for conducting routines, ie every 4 months. We generally conduct one at 10 weeks when a new tenant moves in and then every 4-6 months after that, we consider entry and exit inspections part of our servicing of the property as well. All property inspections are very much a part of our customer service, our reports are full of photos, details and a maintenance process is set up to follow the report. Explaining this to your landlords is imperative, and how you differ from what other agencies might deliver.
Q. What is your maintenance procedure?
A. Maintenance can make or break your relationship with a tenant and a landlord. It is the number one reason most tenants leave a property. Being able to clearly outline how you carry out your routine procedure will instantly put a landlord at ease. A procedure would look something like this; tenants call through an emergency or urgent repairs, all other non-urgent repairs are discussed at routines or put in writing to their property manager. Emergency maintenance should be responded to within 24 hours, urgent within 48 hours, and non-urgent after routine inspections or on approval. As long as your landlord and your tenants know the expectations it will reduce issues long term.
Q. What do you do if a tenant stops paying rent?
A. Dealing with rent arrears is a daily issue and assuring your landlord you have a watertight procedure is essential. Know your rent arrears percentage, especially if it is extremely low for the market. A typical rent arrears procedure will ensure regular contact with the tenant once they enter into arrears, followed by a breach and notice to leave protocols. Make sure you can clearly outline your agency stance on rent arrears and how you will proceed each step of the way if the tenant continues to stop paying rent. Now is also a timely point to recommend Landlords insurance, as a means of protecting the landlord if things do go pear-shaped throughout the tenancy.
Q. What do you do for debt collection?
A. It is one thing to follow up with a tenant when they are in arrears, but it is another to recover the funds if they leave the property owing to debt. Do you have an in-house debt collection procedure? Ours starts with the application form, we utilise the information on it to commence our investigations, you will be surprised how useful that form can be in debt collection, especially if the tenant is refusing to communicate. Will you represent the landlord at QCAT, share your experiences at QCAT. Are you connected with a debt collection agency, because even if you win at QCAT you will need a debt collector to recover the funds, explain the process, and the fees involved. At the end of the day ensuring you will do everything in your power to ensure the landlord isn’t out of pocket is key.
Q. Are your portfolio or task-based property management?
A. There are pros and cons to both types of property management, and landlords are becoming savvier, they’ve probably had a nightmare experience with one or the other previously. Be honest and outline the pros of your chosen method of management. For us, it is a hybrid of both systems, but the key points I would outline is that there is only one main person they will need to deal with, our team is focused on customer service and communication as our core values, that everything we do is transparent, every entry, exit or routine is available to them 24/7 in their landlords portal. Here is a link to the Pros and Cons of Portfolio and Task-based property management.
Q. If I call or contact you when should I expect a reply?
A. This one is a no brainer, same-day return call or email. If your core values are customer service and communication then you need to deliver on that promise. If you are on holiday or off sick what is the back up to responses? Your touchpoint with the landlord from start to finish sets the tone for the relationship and longevity of the business relationship.
Q. How many properties do your property managers manage?
A. This is the million-dollar question, and it really depends on how your agency is set up. Landlords want to know that the property manager can handle the workload, will be able to give them quality customer service and regular communication. If you can tick those boxes then your portfolio size will be negligible. You can check out this blog post which breaks down how many properties a property manager can manage.
Q. When can I expect my rental payments?
A. Offering owners opportunities to get their rental disbursements is essential. Once upon a time, it was monthly, now there is mid-month and even weekly disbursements happening. Explain how your accounts department works, what their statement will include, is their access to a Landlord’s portal to make this accessible 24/7.