Advice for every investor!

Welcome to my advice page!  You’re likely here because you’ve received the link through one of my marketing campaigns – so welcome!  I’ve put together a few links together so you can make your way directly to a situation that you need help with.  If there’s something else you would like advice on, drop me a line – happy to help.

Buyers Advocate

Self Managed Super Fund – my story

Agent or Self Manage?

Lease break – what happens when a tenant needs to break their lease?

Landlord to maintain premises – what you need to know!

What to look for in a Property Manager

Proposed government reforms of the Residential Tenancy Act

Protect yourself from real estate related Fraud

If you’ve made it this far, then great!  I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you luck with your investing future!

Meet your next PM

I find that nowadays, I often don’t get to meet my landlords.  Everyone is either time poor, or location gets in the way, so I put my creative hat on and created a video to try and give people a little insight into what you get when you join the Eview family.

It’s a little corny I know, but no harm in having a little fun and getting yourself out there!

0% vacancy, just in time for Christmas!

As experienced investors know – leading up to Christmas is the quietest time of year for leasing (other than the week over Christmas / New Year of course where everyone is on holidays).  Despite this challenge, our office managed to lease every last one of our vacant homes!!!

How did we do this?  A lot of hard work combined with thinking outside the square.  Our last 4 properties were leased by;

  1. One was a tenant recommended to us by a friend of a staff member, she was available so we showed the property to her first thing Monday morning – immediate appointment.  She had her application ready, liked the property, we did the checks and had her approved same day – she was in before close of business to sign up, done!
  2. One was from an open on the weekend – this is pretty stock standard, they came, they saw, they applied, they leased!
  3. A higher end property in Werribee, this one was actually leased through our network.  Before it had even hit the market, we had advised our tenant database that it would be coming up soon.  One of those prospective tenants came to view the property on a Wednesday – approved within 24 hours – done and dusted.
  4. Finally – last one had been a little bit of a challenge for us (quiet time of year and all), but we had one potential applicant who had missed out on the weekend open.  They worked full time so couldn’t come during business hours – so what do we do?  Meet them first thing in the morning (before 8am).  She had her application ready, approved that day, first months rent paid and lease signed overnight via email.

Leasing a property isn’t just about putting a few photos on line, having a 15 minute open on a Saturday, then waiting for the quality applicants to simply come in, apply, have perfect applications and sign up the next day.  At least – that’s not how it is with Eview.  We go the extra mile to make sure our owners have minimal vacancy!

If you’re concerned with how long it’s taking to lease your property, then why not get in touch and we’ll explain how we can hep you achieve the best results with your investment! (And Yes, even over the holidays, I’ll be available to help, so what are you waiting for – submit your details and we can start working on it for you!)

Share in the success – $250 voucher

At Eview Werribee, we would like to share in our success.  Winning the Property Management Department of the year award across the whole Eview group for 2017 has inspired us to reach for higher heights!

So, in the spirit of giving (handy close to Christmas) any owner who signs up with us from now until December 31st, will receive a $250 voucher of their choice (or the same amount credited towards their management or letting fees).   Submit your details now so we can get started on a long and successful business relationship that will help you get the most from your hard earned investment property!

share success

Should you transfer your investment property to us for a voucher? Of course not, but, if you’ve been sitting on the fence, or you are not 100% satisfied with your current service, then this is a great opportunity to join the Eview family, knowing that your property will be well cared for and – score a bonus voucher while you’re at it!

Transferring your property is easier than most people think.  Provided you’re not on an exclusive authority (so if you’ve just signed one, I’m happy to give advice, but it’s likely you can’t change straight away) – all you need to do is sign an authority, provided your current agencies details, we do the rest!  In 2 business days or less, we’ll have your file, will have done a health check on your property, and will have provided you with a full update on where everything is at!

Property not tenanted?  No problems, we have well below industry average vacancies with our properties.  Why is this?  We have a database of tenants and often, we lease houses in popular areas, without having to have an advertised open for inspection!  We make the effort to pre-approve applications.  Once pre-approved, potential tenants stop looking as they know, that all they have to do is view the property before signing up!  We do not stick to the antiquated notion of ‘we will not process your application until you’ve seen the property – which is only open for 10 minutes, at one point in the week’.

What are you waiting for?  Call me now on 0497 888 087, or submit your details here and let me know a good time and way to get a hold of you so we can chat!

Scary drug house story – why you should work with your agent!

Below is an abbreviated version of a story published on domain.com.au in relation to an agency who seemed to care more about getting the money to the landlords whatever the cost, more so than doing the job properly to ensure the right tenant is found.

A recent VCAT case and consumer affairs investigation has recently found a south east Melbourne agency guilty of breaching the agents code of conduct.  It has been found that said agency leased 21 properties to a local sports bar manager.

24 Hour Service?

This is a question that many property managers discuss among themselves.  Do we provide a 24 hour service?  Emergencies can happen at any time, so is a property manager on call every moment of every day?

When asking a property manager, the answer is ‘No, don’t be silly.’  But when you ask a landlord or tenant, the answer is increasingly becoming an indignant ‘Yes ,of course’ and often when they call at 7am in the morning or 3pm on a Sunday afternoon they’re surprised that no one answers.

Here’s the challenge we face – mobile phones, laptops, tablets – they all allow us to be accessible 24/7, but if you think about those industries that are on call, available 24/7, think about how much they charge.  A lawyer is going to answer / have meetings with their clients at any time of the day, but I’d shudder to think of the hourly cost – $300ph, $500ph… Yet, on a $300pw property, how much do you think a company is earning – somewhere between $15-26 per week, and that’s not what the property manager themselves is being paid.  Turn that into 150 properties and that’s $2250 – $3690per week.  168 hours in a week = $21ph best case scenario (And again, that’s the company, not what the PM is getting paid)

Would you be on call 24/7 for well under $21ph?

Thanks, but no thanks.

So how do we get around the seeming need for 100% access 100% of the time?  Without charging 15% management commission? (Though, if you want to list 150 properties with me at %15 commission, I’d put my hand up as a business owner to be available 24/7 I can tell you that now)

Here’s how we provide our service;

  1. The after hours contact is spread around.  So it’s not 1 person on call all the time.  We have an office number, with a voice mail that provides urgent trade contacts and an emergency mobile number.
  2. We understand that not all hard working landlords or tenants can be available during the day, so we offer an after hours call schedule – it’s much easier (and a much better work life balance) to book in a phone conference at a set time outside normal business hours than it is to have someone call you in the middle of trying to get your kids to bed for example.
  3. Business owner is always available.  It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.  as the owner of Eview Werribee, Bryan’s number (which is on all his cards, online, on the website) makes him accessible 24/7.  Will he answer the phone at 3am in the morning?  Unlikely, but if you book in this time for an international conference call then that’s a different story.

Am I available 24/7?  Almost.  The benefit of being an employee over being a business owner.  (I am typing this on a Sunday afternoon but hey, it’s more interesting than the footy right now).

As a landlord, what are your expectations?  As a tenant, how contactable do you think your property manager should be?  Let me know, I’m always interested in feedback.

6 Signs to look for in a good property manager!

Smart investors know that you can not have successful long term investments without said investments being looked after and used at their full potential. 

I hate to say it though, but I see far too many investors not putting enough thought or even effort into who is the best person to professionally manage their rental properties (And don’t get me started on those who try to save $100 per month on self managing).

Those who win the most from their hard earned investments understand that like most things involving money, that property investing should be treated like a business.  Emotion need to be removed from the equation and the best professional real estate agent, local to their investment property, should be chosen to look after their property.

It should come as no surpise, but not all property managers offer the same service and not every property manager has the same qualifications, policies and procedures to ensure that you are well looked after.  So, what signs do you need to look for to ensure you’re picking the best??

The following six indicators show what to look for (and what to steer clear of).

1. Job Satisfaction

If your property manager does not enjoy their work or receive any form of satisfaction from what they do, their care factor for your investment will be minimal.  It’s a stressful and difficult position to fill that never gets enough credit.  So if your property manager can not handle the rough and tumble that comes with the industry, chances are they won’t be there long term.  High staff turn over is one of the biggest problems in the industry that mean lost information, lack of communication and problems for your investment.  So find someone that genuinely enjoys what they do!

2. Communication

At the very minimum, you should hear from your property manager every week when your property is vacant, before you don’t receive the rent if there’s a payment issue, you also should be contacted for your routine inspections (invited to them) at 3 months into a lease and every 6 months after that (in Vic), receive the routine inspection reports and rent reviews (3 months prior to a lease end or every 6 months if they’re not on a lease).  Beyond that, you should be able to get a hold of your agent during business hours.  If you call and call your agent and don’t get a return call in 24 hours, then somethings wrong there.

3. Strong reporting

Following on from regular rent reviews and routine inspections.  These are the simplest items to diarise, report on and ensure that you receive within the time frames stipulated by the legislation.  If you are not receiving detailed routine inspection reports and rent reviews at a minimum, then you’re not getting the service you’re paying for.  When choosing an agent, ask for these- they should be able to provide you with an example to help your decision making process in choosing the right PM for you.

4. Poor or no maintenance

In a perfect world, nothing would ever break and things would last 50 years or more.  But, that is not the case.  If you have tenants living in your property, there is always something to fix or be looked at.  Preventative maintenance saves you money in the long run.A good example is noticing a wet patch in a ceiling or wall near the bathroom, or cracks in the grout of a shower – having this noted and investigated (a clear sign of a leak) is much cheaper than waiting until the problem becomes an obvious mold issue which can require full internal wall replacement.  Getting maintenance done in a timely manner also keeps happy tenants – regardless of the hard conversations that property managers have with owners (no one likes to part with money unnecessarily) they need to be telling you about maintenance and in some cases, convincing you for your own good to get it done!

5. Legislation and compliance knowledge

The legislation in relation to residential tenancies is quite complex and with the rise of the tenants union and knowledge being readily available to everyone with a smart phone, landlords are finding themselves in hot water more often as they inadvertently breach the act and are taken to VCAT for this.  A good example from one of my very own landlords this week was where he advised that he would only complete the maintenance if the tenant signed a new 12 month lease!  (for those of you in the know, you can’t do that.  The tenant has every right to take this landlord to VCAT in order to get the maintenance done via VCAT order as well as seek compensation for the time the maintenance was not done!  If your agent cares about you and your property, they’ll tell you this even though you might not want to hear it!

6. Follow up

A good example of this is when your property is vacant.  It can be a most stressful time especially if you depend on the rent to pay the mortgage.  So you would expect your agent to follow up every potential lead and every good application until it’s leased, keeping you informed along the way.  When you’re kept in the dark, either the property manager is too busy to get in touch with you (just take a moment to think about how that reflects on your vacancy / loss of income), or, it’s not part of their process which also indicates a bigger problem.

I know it’s a long post, but I think it’s an important one, and if you’ve made it to this far, then you’re likely to be a good caring landlord that I would love the opportunity to work with. If you have any questions on our processes and how we can help you with your investment, get in touch! Those who do not think these items are important when looking after their investment, often don’t realize the actual loss they suffer when things go wrong and how preventable that could have been.

Fraud on the rise!

Phishing scams and internet fraud is nothing new. We’ve probably all seen the reports on the news about the more vulnerable members of our society being duped out of their hard earned money by international gangsters who have used the old lottery win line or have catfished poor lonely people only to get them to transfer away their life savings.

But, what you might not have realised is how clever these thieves are becoming, how this can turn into Real Estate Fraud and how you need to be aware on how to protect yourself.

One of our related offices recently avoided a significant financial loss due to a simple email fraud set up. How did it work?

1. the sales agent received a genuine looking inquiry on one of the properties he was selling that had a pdf file to some offer documents.
2. Sales agent opened the documents thinking nothing of it, and noticed nothing at the time when the document failed to work, contacted the owner of the email to resend but never got a response, not realizing the hacker was already in.
3. The hacker had gained access to the computer and the sales agents emails. Going through them, they found the information of a recent sale and proceeded to email the purchaser to change the bank details for the transfer of the remaining house deposit.

The sales agent, following strict office procedure, had contacted the purchaser as a matter of course to confirm the deposit prior to it being due and it was through this action, that the transfer to the hackers account was avoided!  But had the sales agent not been providing the high contact service to the purchaser (As some do once the property is sold and contract unconditional), then the purchaser would have transferred the funds and they would have been lost!

Working in the world of property management, this is a little less common on our side of the real estate game but it’s not unheard of.  There have been cases in the industry where owner’s emails have been hacked (like your home hotmail account) and emails have been sent to real estate agents requesting bank account changes for the rent to be paid into.  That one is easily preventable by ensuring that such requests are double checked by direct contact with owners, but it just goes to show that you have to be careful at home as well as in business.

Ways to prevent potential fraud (direct from one of our awesome IT Boffins in the Eview group);

  1. Never open an email that is not authentic and if you do or are told it was infected and you opened it, immediately change all your security passwords from another clean device.

PC/MAC Security.

  1. Anti-virus

Use a reputable paid anti-virus solution to protect your system (Norton, Bitdefender, Kaspersky…). After all it is the lifeline of your business and you should not compromise on security.

  1. Anti-Malware

Use a dedicated paid malware solution. I personal use Malwarebytes and find it to be the most successful in protecting against malware and cryptolocker

  1. Backup

Backup! Backup! Backup!. The Cryptolocker attack will damage your cloud backup so it is importantr that you use a removable device to backup your most important data. Eg. USB flash drive or USB external Hard Disk drive. Not just one drive use multiple devices just in case it gets damaged or attacked if you leave it plugged in your computer during an attack. Don’t rely on cloud backup.

Remember you can have the best security in place, all the right backup procedures but the biggest risk of security is yourself, the user. Most attacks are because a user clicked on the wrong link, email, or went to a dodgy web site. So be vigilant and notify your IT support staff (or if it’s your personal email, contact a reputable it consultant in your area – if you need one, let me know and I can try to help) ASAP if you have clicked on something you shouldn’t have.

 

Free Safety Cord Kit from Consumer Affairs – Vic

Understanding the potential danger of blind cords, in particular for landlords, is quite important.

Young children can strangle themselves with looped curtain and blind cords. At least 12 young children have died as a result in Australia since the year 2000, including two in Victoria in August and September 2009.

Why are loose cords dangerous?

A child can place the loop over their head and/or get tangled in loose cords when they are:

  • in a cot or bed where cords are hanging
  • playing near cords, or
  • standing on a chair, sofa or bed to look out of a window.

To assist in preventing this, anyone can order a free safety kit to make looped curtain and blind cords safer in your home. Order through our online order form or call 1300 55 81 81. Stocks are limited though so if you do miss out on the free kit, we would still recommend arranging them to be installed yourself (it’s not complicated and all the equipment is available easy and cheaply from Bunnings or any hardware store). Or, get in touch with your property manager as our handymen can complete the job at a reasonable price- remember, there is no price on piece of mind!

Review of the Residential Tenancy Act

As some of you may or may not be aware, the residential tenancy act is being reviewed and the general public is being asked to make submissions to be considered.  This can be done via the government website Review of the Residential Tenancy Act.

Why is this important?  If you don’t have your say, and things get changed in a way you don’t want them to, you don’t have a right to complain!  So everyone needs to get out there, have a think about what you feel is fair, reasonable and should be a part of the legislation, and put a submission in!

Some of the key points they are looking at changing are;

  • Security of tenure – the option of 5 year + leases and protection for tenants.
  • Balancing bargaining power between the parties (as the various lobbying parties such as the Tenants Union feel that landlords have too much power)
  • Clarification on rights and responsibilities for both Tenants and Landlords
  • Making it an offence to include a term in a tenancy agreement that is prohibited under the blacklist (which is to be created)
  • Clarifying the extent to which a landlord can prohibit a tenant from having a pet (which includes making a ‘no pets’ clause unreasonable and unenforceable.
  • Providing compensation to tenants for open for inspections when showing prospective buyers through if the property is for sale.
  • Clarifying subleasing and what can be charged for new tenancies. (this will likely cover Air B n B issues.)
  • Greater clarity about lease break fees and the potential to cap a lease break fee and rental compensation to a landlord at 2 weeks only.
  • Limiting rent increases to once per year instead of the option for every 6 months.
  • Clarifying ‘reasonably clean’ to reduce disputes.
  • Termination and security of tenure – they’re thinking of removing the 120 day notice to vacate for no reason.

Based on my own experience as a tenant, landlord and licenced estate agent, I will be submitting a proposal to try and protect our landlords from changes that I think are unfair and in the same way, I’ll be raising issues for clarification such as ‘reasonably clean’ and the minimum requirements for a property to be leased clearly defined so as a property manager, I can show those very small percentage of owners who think it’s okay to have holes in walls / mould and so on and lease the property that it clearly is not.

If you don’t have the time to create your own submission, let me know what you would like included so I can add it to my paper!