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More than just maintenance: how wholistic property management gives you plenty of options

August 23, 2019

Maybe you want to live in your new property. Maybe you want to rent it out. Either way, every property you purchase is an investment. This means it’s important to take care of your property as though you might sell it or rent it out tomorrow.

But what exactly do you need to do? And how can the right mindset help you get the most out of your asset?

An investment mindset is not just about collecting weekly rent. It’s a mindset that’s long-term and sees your property as something that, with the right care and maintenance, could increase in worth. We spoke to Ashleigh McGregor, Head of Property Management Growth at Independent, to fill us in on what holistic property management is all about.

Understanding how the market views your property

Always be prepared. You may not have been a boy scout, but it’s a motto worth living by. You don’t know if or when you’ll need to put your home on the sales or rental market. Life happens and sometimes you need to move quickly. Already having an understanding of where your home sits in the market is part of being a responsible home owner.

Every quarter or so, you should be looking at:

  • Rental vacancy rates and what’s impacting them. Has there been a sudden influx of students?
  • Comparable sales and rentals in your area. What prices are homes like yours garnering in the suburbs around you?
  • Changes to your area. Has a new school opened, changing the demographic of the area?
  • General trends. Your 1-bed apartment might be perfect for you, but are renters looking for 2 bedroom?

The best tools in your kit for keeping up to date with this kind of information? Your property manager, who can give you detailed insights based on what’s actually happening day to day and your real estate agent, who can help appraise your property.

“We send our regular updates to our landlords to let them know about changes in the market including vacancy rates, as well as things they need to be thinking over in the following few months,” Ashleigh says.

Engaging in proactive maintenance

By viewing your property as an investment, and as part of your wider financial position, maintenance becomes about maintaining your investment’s value, rather than reacting to problems. This means you need to be proactive in your approach.

“It’s not difficult to call up a plumber when your tap needs a washer replaced or to call in a handyman to fix a squeaky door. What is hard is being aware of potential problems and pre-empting them before they escalate.”

This involves having a thorough knowledge of your property. It also requires you to know if there are any issues affecting other residents of the building.

Another aspect of an holistic approach toward maintenance is accepting the inevitability of wear and tear. Regardless of how careful you or your tenants are, wear and tear will come as a result of the property being lived in.

“Accidents happen. What matters is how you deal with this damage. We recommend carrying out any repairs with the long-term health of your property in mind."

“At routine inspections we ensure tenants are taking care of the property but also look for what improvements owners can do to save money in the long term through preventative maintenance. We can prevent more costly repairs down the track by taking a proactive approach before the property declines.”

Finding trades people you can trust

The best way to ensure repairs are carried out thoroughly is to hire the right person for the job. This means building relationships with honest, reliable and skilled tradespeople.

“Asking a friend or relative for a referral is always a good place to start,” said Ashleigh. “If you engage one of our property managers to look after your rental property, they can also recommend a tradesperson from their pool of trusted contractors.”

Keeping up to date with changes in tenancy legislation

Another element of effectively managing your property is keeping current with changes in property legislation. It is important you are aware of how changes might impact your ability to rent or resell your property.

“There is a lot of legislation around property in Canberra that affects owners and landlords, so being up to date with changes to the law is crucial. When selling or leasing out property, most people don’t really know what they are getting themselves into and how much baseline knowledge is required,” said Ashleigh.

For example, recent proposed changes in the Residential Property Act mean that landlords can’t unreasonably deny a tenant’s request for a pet or a request to make minor reversable changes to the property. Although great for tenants, these changes reduce your autonomy over the property as an owner.

This is where experienced property professionals become invaluable. Your property manager, your sales agent, your broker—it’s their job to be on top of legislation and understand how it will impact the day to day management of your property. All of them are there to provide advice and guidance outside of a transaction.

As Ashleigh pointed out ‘It is literally our job to know the legal side of things and we make it a priority to educate our staff whenever legislative changes occur that will affect tenant or landlord rights. Our staff then educate and advise our clients on these changes.”

Building wealth

Property management involves a lot more than just getting rent paid and repairs done. Ashleigh views it as wealth creation and investment building, with the overall aim of creating financial prosperity through property.

The property management team at Independent works with live-in owners as well as investors to provide property advice tailored for an individual’s circumstances.

A common misconception about investing in property is that the more you own, the stronger your portfolio. Ashleigh was quick to point out that this view of ‘the more the better’ isn’t necessarily accurate. It’s important to be purchasing investment properties based on what the rental market is demanding.

“Not only can property management professionals guide you through how best to maintain your property, if you are considering investing in multiple properties, we can educate and advise you on how you can use the profits of your existing property (or properties) to build your investment portfolio through our investment portfolio health checks.”

Building a strong team that can provide you with important insights and help you grow your investment is crucial. Our property management team can provide you with a free rental appraisal or some insider advice regardless of whether you’re ready to rent out your property now or down the track.