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Industry-wide mystery shopper reveals ‘scary’ results

09 April 2014 Steven Cross

Almost 140 property managers from around the country were scrutinised by a secret shopper who has since labelled the results as "appalling" and "scary".

Consultant at Real Estate Dynamics Joshua Cobb rang 138 property management offices last year to determine how well the average property manager treats a potential client.

“We pretended to be a prospective landlord who already had a property but the current manager was not so great, so we wanted to know how they might help us,” Mr Cobb told Residential Property Manager.

Mr Cobb was judging offices on knowledge of best practice and compliance, willingness to help, fees and charges and what their point of difference was.

“Just 6.5 per cent of property managers asked basic questions about the property and the former manager," he noted.

“These are simple questions - the most critical question you need to ask is what concerns they are having at the moment. Understanding the emotion behind why a landlord wants you is vital.”

However, even more concerning was the amount of property managers who were willing to drop their fees.

“We asked the question 'What do you charge?’, and the follow-up questions was ‘Will you negotiate on your fees?’. A total of 86.5 per cent of property managers said they would reduce their fee, which is pretty appalling,” said Mr Cobb.

While he admits the result didn’t surprise him, Mr Cobb said that no particular area or demographic was worse when it came to reducing fees.

“It was generally across the board that we saw those results. The industry obviously needs training in this area,” he said.

When asked for further information, every single property manager said they had a prospectus to send.

“But only 67.5 per cent actually sent one via email. And the standard which we received was another story altogether,” Mr Cobb said.

However, what was most shocking was the follow-up rate from property managers.

“Out of the 138 companies I rang, just one followed up with me. That’s really scary stuff,” he said.

The property manager was Natalie Lesley from Elders Real Estate Ballina, who is currently a client of Mr Cobb’s – yet wasn’t at the time of the phone call.

The results were shared with attendees to the 2014 LPMA Conference on the Gold Coast last week.

Industry-wide mystery shopper reveals ‘scary’ results
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