Leah Calnan, director at Metro Property Management, based in Victoria, said her business model - which sees her managing properties located up to 60km from her office - can be effective if it's managed properly.
“From a Melbourne point of view we go all the way out to Geelong, across to Drouin, east of Melbourne and as far down as the peninsula,” she told Real Estate Business.
Ms Calnan, with over 2,000 properties under management, said it was imperative that principals did everything they could to manage all of their landlords' properties, even when they were located some distance from their office.
“[Agents] are so focused on their little patch and they don’t go outside this little patch, but it’s not client focused," she said. "So when an owner comes to [most principals] and has a property in this suburb and one property three suburbs [away], they’ll say, “No, it is outside my little patch”,” she said.
“But that’s not beneficial for the client."
“The client will take their business elsewhere and establish a relationship with someone else, then ultimately they will merge their business with them. Don’t you want them to merge with you, rather than with your competitor?”
The decision to not be area specific allows her to offer a better and unique service to her clients, according to Ms Calnan.
“It is allowing a client to build their own portfolio of wealth and having the one property manager, irrespective of where the property is located, is a positive for a client,” she said.
“But time management skills come into it, you don’t go out for one appointment at 11 o’clock and then forget the keys and then have to drive back 60kms, that’s not smart,” she said.
“You just work smarter - that is the difference.”
Ms Calnan, who will be speaking on this topic at the Australasian Residential Property Management Conference (APRM) in Sydney in early August, said her business is designed to manage a large number of properties across a vast area.
“We have a team of 23 property managers and we are not area specific, so we cover all of Melbourne,” she said. “I don’t feel like I have gone beyond my means at all, because my business is designed that way."
According to Ms Calnan, it is time for a change in the industry and the way property management is handled.
“What people don’t realise is that real estate has been doing the same thing forever. It is time to change it up and adopt a way of working that is convenient to the client,” she said.
However Bob Walters, executive director of Leading Property Managers of Australia (LPMA), recently cautioned principals about taking managements that were too far from their office location. At this year’s LPMA Conference, held on the Gold Coast, Mr Walters told delegates that managing properties outside their local area should be restricted unless they can profitably service them.
“Please don’t take on properties for management that you can’t profitably service,” he said.
“Whilst technology has widened up geographical boundaries in property management, I encourage principals to think twice when an owner wants to give you a management that is an hour and half’s drive from your office.
"Don’t just accept any property.”