The similarities between strata and property management have seen some real estate agencies embrace both, albeit with mixed results.
Tim Dixon, national business development manager at Strata Real Estate Services, said incorporating strata into a business can help the agency to grow despite a tough economic climate.
“Accountants usually say, 'Cut your marketing and cut your staff when times get tough', but what you need to do is to maintain and grow your revenues," he said.
“Property owners want a complete real estate service. They see strata management as part of real estate, not separate from it."
Mr Dixon points to three major benefits for introducing strata management to a business structure.
“Repairs and maintenance are a major function of strata management. Most agencies perform this same function for their landlords, so they already have the expertise," he said.
“Strata legislation requires the strata manager to have the owners' details and to communicate with them regularly, with obvious benefits.
“And real estate agencies that offer strata management services develop relationships with all owners in the scheme, not just the landlords they manage.”
Integrity Real Estate used to offer strata management, however, director Kate Cummins said they had separated the branch into its own business.
Similarly, Andrew Birchill, principal at First National Somerville in Ashfield, NSW, told Residential Property Manager that he too was planning to separate strata into a separate business after more than 30 years.
“We started strata management around 1979,” he said. “It’s not bad with picking up on property managements, and we get the odd sale here and there but because strata is diverse area-wise, it’s really not anything like property management.
“Property management is local; you’ve got to be in that area. You might have the odd property out of area but it’s all pretty much in your patch, while strata management certainly isn’t.”
Mr Birchill said the strata management property located furthest from his office was in Wollongong, about an hour and a half south of Sydney.
“Being more responsible, we let that one go," he said. "But really, you’ve got to be able to get in your car and get out there, so our key areas now are inner west, eastern suburbs and a small sprinkling in the north shore.”
Mr Birchill described strata management as the ‘flavour of the month’, but admitted that he too is ready to pull the offering.
“While property and strata management don’t really conflict, it’s still a separate sort of animal. You certainly don’t run a real estate and strata management business and not have repercussions in terms of service and phone calls," he said.
“For this reason, most businesses would separate them, eventually we will too - but there’s really no need for that at the moment.”