Consider the range of relationships you have across all corners of your life and you’ll notice a common denominator that weighs heavily on the quality relationship equation – ‘communication’, and the effectiveness of it.
Without the effect communication, even the strongest of relationships become weak. The way your property is managed has an impact on your financial freedom, so I suggest a quality relationship is a must on the shopping list of every landlord.
Creating a quality relationship is perhaps not as easy as many text books describe. So what are the secrets to creating an effective relationship with your agency?
When you meet your property manager, give them a 360 degree review of you, your investment objectives and your financial management plan. You want your property manager to have an understanding of what you plan to achieve and the elements that will weigh in on your thought process when making decisions regarding things like rental reviews, lease renewals, maintenance and renovation. In the absence of this information, the property manager will make decisions on your behalf – but your needs and theirs may be very different.
Twenty years ago, when I first started in real estate, we knew our clients by face. Many of our landlords dropped into the office regularly. Tenants would pay rent over the counter in cash, or communicate by picking up the phone. Fast forward to 2013 and there are almost too many methods of communication to count!
When you set the relationship with your agency, discuss your preferred method of communication. Remember that your agent, more often than not, requires a quick response – and your investment return may be depending on it.
Don’t shoot the messenger. I often describe the role of a property manager to industry practitioners as being the balance piece of a see-saw. On one side is the tenant and on the other side is the landlord. The property manager spends their time balancing the position, needs, and legal right of all parties.
Just like a see-saw, it can be difficult to keep everyone in balance. When your property manager calls with some not-so-exciting news or a request, remember they are merely following the requirements of their role.
If you are going away for an extended period of time, or simply won’t be contactable for a length of time, be sure to let your property manager know. Give them instructions on how to act in your absence. Even consider having a permanent emergency contact. If something happens at your property that poses a financial or physical risk, your property manager will want to act quickly on your behalf and minimise as much loss as possible for you.
In the event your circumstances change, or you have increased property costs resulting in financial stress, talk to your property manager. There may be support available for your costs to be split over two months, or cheaper options for repairs or renovations.
Remember: property managers will change throughout the course of your investment property ownership and as such, selecting the agency that best mirrors your values and service requirements is of paramount importance. It’s not just about choosing the one that is cheapest.
Fiona Blayney, Smart Property Investment, October 2013 issue
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