Note to all property investors… get a copy of your property managers current vacant rentals, then phone them and ask about inspecting one of them. This should be simple, right? That's part of the property managers job, right? Why we PAY them!
I've just found myself back in the rental market after god only knows how long. Divorced, decided I'd only stay in this area until my boys are out of school in 3 years then move on, thought it would be a better idea to rent short term and boost my investments. What I've found in the last few weeks has opened my eyes to the world of the people who pay the rent in my investment property, and made me take a very close look at the service I'm getting from my PM!
First, you call about a property advertised as vacant, or available soon, to organise an inspection. They tell you to leave your name and mobile number, and they'll phone you next time an inspection is scheduled. Remember, this includes properties that are currently vacant and costing their owners big dollars! Worth noting also, of the 12 properties I inquired about, only 3 PM's got back to me about an inspection!
Finally, you are notified of an inspection time (maybe). This is usually on a business day, and may be on only 24 hours notice. When I complained about this to one PM, she told me she shouldn't have to waste her weekends standing around empty houses. Fine for the unemployed or uni students, something of a problem for people with a serious job. Who do you want renting your property?
When you show up at the property, it's only held open for 15 minutes tops, and there may be up to a dozen groups looking. Any given property is usually opened once a week. Properties sit vacant for weeks on end, while quality tenants are turned away, fobbed off and ignored.
Finally, one day I phoned an agent I hadn't contacted before about a newly listed property. How's 4:30 today? Great! When I turned up I was the only one there. The PM wasn't available, so the agency Principal had turned up. He let me take as long as I wanted to look around and answered all my questions. I put in my application the same day, and heard back from them the following morning.
So I conducted a little experiement. I searched realestate.com.au for a vacant rental managed by my own property manager and phoned them about it. Careful not to identify myself as a client, or a property investor, I told them I would like to inspect the property. Sure, leave your number and we'll get back to you. 4 days later I phoned them back – they still didn't have an inspection time, but would contact me when they did. Remeber, this empty house is costing someone money! 4 more days later, I phoned again only to be told there had been an inspection the day before and probably wouldnt be another for a week!
That's when I identified myself and told them exactly why I would be finding a new Property Manager.dreamtobelieveParticipant@dreamtobelieveJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 32
Couldn't agree more, a good property manager is crucial and checking them out properly is up there with building/pest inspections if you are to minimise your risks and to maximise your returns.
Having worked in the very proactive London lettings market once upon a time, I couldnt believe the sheer lack of interest some property managers had when I first came to Sydney. It was almost harder to rent a place than it was to buy. That said in London its not uncommon for the better known letting agencies to charge 16-17% of the total rental income (finders and management fee) and thats up all up front, so in some respects we should consider ourselves lucky.
Certainly no harm in actually getting your property managers to work for their money though.SingerMember@singerJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 75dreamtobelieve wrote:It was almost harder to rent a place than it was to buy.
Dead right. I don't know why the industry attracts such silly and disorganised people.vita22Member@vita22Join Date: 2009Post Count: 12
Too right! I think more people should do what you did and test the quality of their PM.
Honestly, I found it much easier to buy! Even with finance, building and pest, negotiations, still much less frustrating than trying to rent!
And seriously, if you didn't want to work on weekends why on earth would you choose to go into REAL ESTATE??? Go work for a bank or something.quickchickMember@quickchickJoin Date: 2004Post Count: 168
Excellent post, Elli.
A timely reminder to us all, to check up on our property managers and don't just assume they're busting their boilers to rent our investment properties out.
Their week's rent in advance per year, for securing a new tenant, is not a bad incentive, you would think.
quickchick88flippinghousesParticipant@88flippinghousesJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 1
this was a timely post and reminder. Im dealing with this issue myself. The quality of people we work with just can't ever be overlooked, or underappreciated.Beth BreslinParticipant@beth-breslinJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 2
Frankly I’m quite surprised we don’t hear more about this, in every other industry when a company does a bad job; the consumer (and in this case the investor) simply changes company. Then that company either has to mend their ways or go out of business. But here in Brisbane, and I suspect all over Australia; because everyone expects such a poor level of service our expectations are met, we shake our head, roll our eyes and say ‘pfft… real estate agents’.
Myself and my Husband have just one investment property here in Brisbane which had recently come up for rent with LJ Hooker, long story short; the property sat vacant for 8 weeks! At $400 a week.. to us.. that’s a lot of money. However you assume that the agents are doing all they can and it’s just ‘the market’.. That was until a friend of ours tried to inspect it.. and couldn’t get a call back. So we decided to go with another smaller agency who were offering lower fees and 100% Occupancy; I was sceptical.. however within FOUR DAYS we had a tenant. Once this occurred the other agents were shocked that we were no longer having them manage our property???? (The other agent was ‘Dominic Jones’ for anyone interested in Brisbane)
We were so furious, how can one agency have us vacant and costing us money; while another found us a tenant in less than a week? Its malpractice! When we bought the place the agent assured us that we should expect zero vacancy… and here we are $3200 down because some property manager was too busy to show people through our property; it would have been cheaper for us to take a week of work and show people through ourselves!
So whats the point of my rant? (other than of course blowing off some steam) – If investors don’t start expecting more from their property managers this is never going to change. I think a lot of people have been treading water with the ‘better the devil you know’ methodology; however I think the only ones benefiting from this are the large agencies who get our business because they have the big brand names.
Its time property managers start managing property.. rather than simply collecting the rent!
Hear Hear! I'm with you, Beth. We need to start a Landlords Revolution! We'd never sell a property through an agent that refused to work on weekends, why do we put up with Property Managers that won't? Personally, I want a Property Manager to keep my property rented to a good quality tenant, which usually means someone with a job. When my property is vacant and costing me a fortune, I want them bending over backwards to sign up a tenant, and the more work commitments that tenant has the better as far as I'm concerned! There are excellent tenants spending weeks just trying to get a look inside a house, and perfectly good houses sitting empty for weeks because people aren't loking at them.
We all need to stand up and demand the service these people are contracted to offer. You're right, Beth, it would have been cheaper for you to take a week off work and do the whole job yourself, which entirely defeats the purpose of having a property manager! If they can't or won't, we need to take our business to those who will. I found one. Beth found one. Don't put up with second rate, snail pace service!
and while I'm here, a quick plug for Harcourts at Sunnybank Hills… lease signed in 3 days! THAT'S more like it!ducksterParticipant@ducksterJoin Date: 2004Post Count: 1,674thecrestParticipant@thecrestJoin Date: 2004Post Count: 992
Well done Elli – mystery shopping your PM, paid off too.
That vacant property could've been yours next tenant changeover, (may you never have one).
When I was a PM, I always worked Saturdays, because that's when the gainfully employed can do inspections.keikoParticipant@keikoJoin Date: 2008Post Count: 513
Hopeless, the same thing happens when trying to buy a property.
Ive also had people call me direct and they have said the agent has fobbed them off, and they would like to look at the property I have for lease and sometimes I understand why the agents fobbed them off but there has been other times when there has been nothing wrong with the people and then I have signed them up on a lease, then contacted the agent and have said I have leased it, agents always ask ohh who did you lease it to, and I tell them the name and thats it, and the agent does not say a word, funny that, caught out.Yuppy Hippy 101Member@yuppy-hippy-101Join Date: 2004Post Count: 44
I have been so disillusioned with Property Managers that I have decided to get a real estate licence and do something about it!………. stay tuned!OscarLMember@oscarlJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 2
Thanks for tip, have the same problem with LJ Hooker Brisbane end up selling the property. Do Dominic Jones managing in Clayfield area?heathersMember@heathersJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 26
Mabey we could start a forum for good and bad PM’s?
On that note, can anyone recommend someone in Caboolture?sapphire101Participant@sapphire101Join Date: 2006Post Count: 203
Avoid Stockdale & Leggo ( Frankston and Melton, Vic). The Melton agent I found was sending important company documents to a private address we didn’t live at instead of the company office, had no follow up systems in place and forgot to resign a lease amongst other things, the Frankston crew, I don’t have the time to say here, all of the hopelessly unprofessional systems they have in place. Avoid at all costs….. yours.
I now use RUN Property who are I think are nationwide, and so far so good. They have everything, as in your rental portfolio, online as well.Beth BreslinParticipant@beth-breslinJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 2OscarL wrote:Thanks for tip, have the same problem with LJ Hooker Brisbane end up selling the property. Do Dominic Jones managing in Clayfield area?
Yes, Dominic Jones do manage in Clayfield – we've just bought another property which is in Hendra and they are managing it too. Actually I just spoke with my property manager there, and apparently if you are with another agent, and your property is vacant.. when you switch to Dominic Jones, they'll pay your rent while they find you a tenant. I've never heard of any other agent doing this.. they keep impressing me! The guy I deal with is – Onez: 0404 048 061 if anyone is interested.KuradjiMember@kuradjiJoin Date: 2009Post Count: 34
In the spirit of being helpful: Avoid LJHooker at Epping, (Sydney).
A few months back I would have enjoyed writing a long tale-of-woe about my experience with this crew.
But I second and third the gripes people’s posts here document.
I was actually told “Do you know how many properties we have to manage: We cant possibly check on all of them.”
And then – when I mentioned a repair I had paid for had not been done:
“We rely on the tenants to tell us if there is a problem”
(Me said: I dont pay the tenants, I pay YOU).
Have new agents now, but they are on probation…. The day before the new tenant went in the new agents rang with a long list of items to be rectified. Now this was mid February and the property had been vacant Dec 22 – so why were they getting round to it just the day before the tenant was in?? Most of these items I had already approved their handyman to rectify weeks earlier. But he “didnt have time”.
It seemed fromtheir call the were fully expecting that I would/could leave work, go home (1hr train) get my car, drive the 90mins to IP, and then work to midnight myself doing the repairs and fixes.
Thing is in the 3 weeks the property was vacant ( due to transition from the old “too busy” agent to this new agent which was also right at Christmas), I had wanted to get on with some of these items, but the new agent kept insisting her handyman was a magician and would make it all happen effortlessly…. And it was Christmas and I had 10,000+1 other things to manage I (foolishly) thought paying a PM was a good business approach to my personal time management …
anyway…Playa ChickenMember@playa-chickenJoin Date: 2004Post Count: 128
OMG!! I'm horrified at this story.
I've just started property managing a couple of months ago and always schedule open homes after 5pm as that's the only time working people can get there!! It wouldn't cross my mind to have an open home during the day!
Thanks for brining this amazing story to the forum.
VickyouchiemamaMember@ouchiemamaJoin Date: 2010Post Count: 27
This is exactly why I took back both my properties from the PM and handle them myself. I have a great relationship with my tenants and they've told me how much they appreciate the personal contact they have with me.
I'll admit to being a little hesitant that I'd be able to find the 'right' tenant and not have my houses trashed but I was assured by a fellow investor that as a paramedic I have a great sense for good/bad people. I've learned to trust my instincts and I've been rewarded with great tenants.
Taking on my own property management is not something I took on lightly. I visited at least three PMs in my area, some of whom I or someone I knew had experience with, but I wasn't happy with the fees or their promises that they could do better than my existing PM (who was near to hopeless).
I've been managing my own IPs now for three years and its been great! The only way you'll get the PMs to pay any attention is with your feet … if you don't like the service go elsewhere. Don't be afraid to bang your fist on the counter to get what you want from a PM; remind them who's paying their wages!