Struggling With Properties that Won’t Lease?

Many of my clients have current concerns with properties that just won’t lease. Deep down in our Property Manager psyche we know that if the property is in satisfactory condition and marketed correctly it usually comes down to the price. Generally most troublesome vacant properties, despite anything the landlord thinks is causing the extended vacancy, it really does just comes down to the price.

But more often than not, for some strange reason despite us being the ‘expert’, the owner won’t listen to us to reduce the price to meet the market and we are stuck in the middle of the stress of trying to find a tenant and nursing the frustrations of said Mr Landlord.

I have many tactics for getting these troublesome properties leased, and dialogue for getting the owner around, but today I wanted to comment on not the problem, but potentially the cause.

The more I delve, I see that the issue usually stems from well before it’s been on the market for weeks and weeks, right back to when the vacate notice is received, and even prior to that. The issue starts with failing to ensuring the owner has a realistic view of the current market value of their property.

If we know ahead of time that the rental value of a property is or has fallen, why aren’t we communicating this to our landlords ahead of time, or at least giving a realistic picture at re-lease and rent review? I know why we don’t want to, because it will take more time, but think about it, what if we did?

Unfortunately more often than not we fall into a trap at the re-lease.

Don’t feel bad, I’ll admit it, I’ve done it many a time. The vacancy notice comes in, we see that it’s currently rented for $500 a week, and without much hesitation, we advise the owner to re-list at the same price, sometimes more. Even sometimes when we know it isn’t likely to get that much, especially not anymore. Often leaving ourselves with a bigger problem down the line.

Have you fallen into this trap when re-leasing property?

Why do we so often do this? Perhaps because subconsciously even though we know what the market is doing, it’s easier for us than doing a complete market review, providing the owner with a realistic honest picture, and sometimes having the hard conversation that I’m sorry Mr Landlord, your property is worth LESS now than what it was 12 months ago. Queue onslaught of that being our fault too. Feel familiar?

I’m sure there are some of you out there correctly educating landlords on the rental market at the time of re-leasing but for the many of us that sometimes aren’t and are taking the easy road out, think about those properties that you now have vacant for lease. Think what if the owner had been advise about the reduced value of their property weeks or even months ago, and provided with solid financial advice on the benefits of pricing to meet the current market, not just to get what they were getting before…. would we still be in the same position?

I know there will be the one or two on your rent roll that just won’t listen. But I know that there are a majority of landlords just waiting to be more educated on the market and screaming for us to lead them through. The next vacate notice you receive, try to treat it as if it were a new business property and go through the same market review pricing exercise that you would at that stage, re-educate the landlord on current tenant demand, comparable properties, vacancy rates, days on market – and do what it takes to help them minimise their vacancy and truly maximise their return.

Hermione Gardiner

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Six Simple Questions you can ask Landlords who are Tempted to DIY

Tenancies that are self-managed by investors appear to go pear-shaped significantly more often than those managed by a professional – at least in our experience as insurers.

However, it can be tricky trying to persuade landlords that it is worth their while investing in professional management.

Here are a few questions which might help you to have a discussion with them:

  • Could you bring yourself to chase rent from a family or person experiencing hard times and, if necessary, to evict them – even putting children out onto the street?
  • Are you well informed about tenancy legislation, good at keeping records and confident in your ability to stand up in a tribunal and argue a case?
  • Do you feel comfortable with a tenant having your phone number and being on call 24 hours a day even if you’re overseas or on holiday? Are you available to supervise trades people, at short notice, if required?
  • How will you find out if tenants are who they claim to be and whether they have previously been evicted or have a poor rental history?
  • Will your landlord insurer cover you if you self-manage – and, if so, will the premium rise as a result?
  • How much will you save, after tax, by managing your property yourself? Once the potential stress is taken into account, is your time worth more, or better spent, on other priorities?

Asking the above questions will help investors to understand what it is a Property Manager can do for them and the benefits that go along with choosing professional management services versus self-management.

Sharon Fox-Slater
Executive General Manager
EBM Insurance Brokers’ – RentCover division

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Accentuate the Positive

As the daily grind of Property Management ticks on, we can find that Property Managers sometimes become very busy for a myriad of reasons. It could be the general tasks, the clients you are dealing with or even something like straying off course and not following your preferred week.

It is important for your own mental health and productivity that you take a moment once in a while to refocus and reconnect with both yourself and the tasks at hand so that you don’t become overwhelmed.

This industry, like most, can bring out the best in people or it can bring out the worst and in people. In our travels, we often have to contend with a variety of sources of conflict, whether it be from the clients or even worse, at the hands of ours competitors. Let’s face it, we live in a country where the wildlife is often trying to kill or maim us, let’s not also turn on each other. It’s good to remember that in the end, we are all running our own race and in Property Management, we all share similar challenges.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that for every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. It can be very difficult sometimes to focus on the positive when there can be so many challenges that are thrown our way, so we are going to look at five steps to keep as many of those 60 seconds of happiness as you can.

  • Choose to be Positive Every day something goes on in the world that is much bigger than what may be happening where you are, it’s all a matter of perspective. Every day when you get up, you can choose whether to grab life with both hands and run with it, or sink into a puddle. It’s up to you to decide how you will do this, and look, there are some days that you may only have the strength to have a shower and change your pj’s. That’s ok too.
  • Remove negativity from your life As much as possible. Of course, you cannot completely control every aspect of your life and you will still have to deal with the yucky stuff from time to time, but it’s a good idea to deal with it, let it go and move on.
  • Find the positive in your day I have recently been shown something getting around the pages of Etsy called a gratitude jar. Now, I’m not saying that you need to go with all of that popping a note in the jar each day for something that you’re grateful for, but it is good for the soul, no matter how bad your day might get, to try and find the silver lining.
  • Share your positivity Positivity can be infectious, so throw that stuff around like glitter. Everyone loves a shower in glitter and things that sparkle, right? Even if it’s just sharing a smile with a stranger in the street or checking in with your ship mates who may be having a rough day, to see if they are ok.
  • Don’t assume You know the old saying about assumptions? It has something to do with a donkey? It’s not productive to assume that you know what is going on in someone else’s life. Kindness goes much further than idle gossip and the next time you expand your lungs to express something negative about a person, stop to consider if it is actually doing your own wellbeing any good. Focus on running your own race.

Remember that there will always be those who want to bring you down. Take a moment and a breath and remember the good things. Pull up your comrades in arms and remind them that when they are down, we are all on the same path to creating something great in this industry. Once we can achieve the positive and the great together, the negative nancies will fade into the background.
My grandmother always told me that no matter what life throws at you, tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start again. So, what will your tomorrow bring?

Heidi Walkinshaw

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What’s Your Plan?

With the wildest weather buffeting the east coast and record rainfall and weather unlike anything witnessed since the 60’s and 70’s, it brings to the fore that it may be a good time to consider if your office has an action plan in place for emergencies such as storms, floods and fires.

Most offices may not plan for the worst until it is too late and it is essential to be prepared and have an action plan in place for when an adverse event may occur.

Some steps that you may take in preparing your action plan:

  • Complete a  risk management assessment table with your risks, impact to your business, mitigation strategies and contingency plans.
  • Identify any areas in your business that you cannot operate without should something happen.
  • Complete an emergency management and recovery plan and communicate that plan to all staff so that they are aware of the procedure.
  • Include in any plans a list of emergency contacts such as trades, state emergency services, police, fire and ambulance. This list is also handy to provide to tenants who won’t always know what to do when it comes to these matters.
  • Develop an evacuation plan and ensure you have covered any additional procedures required under likely emergency scenarios.
  • Prepare an emergency kit and include items such as key documents, phone numbers, torches, first aid kits, portable radios, plastic bags, spare batteries and water. Place these in a prominent location and ensure that staff are well informed.
  • Appoint an emergency action team, rehearse your action plan and most importantly, keep your plan up to date.
  • Check that your insurance covers for risks associate with your business.
  • Store all important documents in a secure location and ensure that you have regular backups of your digital data and secure offsite storage for those backups.
  • Research the virtual office services that could be useful in an emergency (such as a telephone answering service, mail forwarding, or a remote secretarial service).

Above all, when it comes to any kind of emergency situation, stay safe, don’t put yourself at risk and leave what you can up to the emergency services who are well trained in dealing with these matters.

Hermione Gardiner

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The Best Sight in My Office

As I sit here to write today I am met with a sight in my office, one which throws me into a different train of thought, one which fills me with a sense of pride, a hint of jealousy, and a load of excitement. It is the early stages in the passing of the baton. So what have I found?

I decided to sit out on the office floor today, come out of the cave that I inhabit on the days I am here called “Fiona’s Office” and hit the desks with the team, across from me right now stands with great pride a card, adorned on its cover is an image of a trophy with the words “No.1 Coach”. As I read the carefully crafted words, the message relates to a story of success and achievement and within its lines, the words are offering thanks and praise for the coach who was there supporting and guiding to ensure it happened.

Pride is an interesting word, and can really mean and relate to so many different things. In this instance I am proud of the business we have. Being able to offer such a service, of the knowledge and skill that has formed over the past 23 years which we impart every day, of the care and dedication my team portray when dealing with peoples lives and the realistic approach we take when identifying what is possible, setting the goals at the right level and then supporting in just the right way.

That momentary flicker of jealousy, has not been derived due to “someone else getting a card”, its from the feeling you get when you know you have made such a difference in someone’s world.
As a business owner who has been at the cold face of my business since inception, creating and offering every service we have today, it’s hard to let go and let others take the reins of an area of your business that is so close to your heart, and one that you enjoy so very much.

The reality is, though the jealousy subsides as quickly as it arrived as it is I as a leader who has the greatest gift of all. Passing the baton to passionate people, watching them develop into capable practitioners is the ultimate for a coach, coaching the coaches. Helping people help people – what a gift.

As we continue to grow, and we bring more people into our family, the dynamic of my role will continue to change. As for most business owners, this has its own challenges, but my role is to be at the front of the trail, blazing away so that the team continue to have a strong leader to follow. It’s important that you keep at the front of yours!

Plus … I’m not ready to let go of the baton just yet, I decided that I’m living till I am 120, so that’s another 100 years to go 😉

Fiona Blayney

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