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How to be a winner

04 October 2012 Reporter

While technology is important in property management, it shouldn’t replace the need for the personal ‘one-on-one’ meeting with landlords, writes Mark Woschnal, managing director and CEO of rent.com.au

The growing prevalence of technology in the real estate industry is driving fast change in the property management arena. One stand-out change is an improvement in the quality of the information available online.

Today, property statistics are becoming freely available to investors and buyers. What does this increasingly high degree of transparency in the industry mean? It indicates that agents no longer have their own secret hoard of information, so everyone will have to work harder to stand out.

Yet, in a world where technology has taken more and more of the human element out of the equation, it may come as a surprise to learn that in property management, face-to-face engagement remains critical to success.

Yes, there is an increasing use of video and mobile applications within an agency. However, nothing can replace personal one-on-one interaction with a prospective landlord.

So, how an agency and individuals represent themselves today is crucial for success in what is a rapidly changing market – something I am calling the ‘New Era of Property Management’.

Australia’s share of renters is growing as an overall percentage of the population. And with more and more investors moving into residential property as an asset class, rent rolls will grow. For agents looking to capitalise on this opportunity, professionalism and personality will be key to gaining a share of this growing management listings market.

Our own data backs this up. In an online survey conducted in February of rent.com.au’s landlord database, an overwhelming 50 per cent of respondents cited personality and professionalism as the main considerations when choosing a property manager. Branding was another key element (21 per cent), followed by terms offered (18 per cent), range of services offered (8 per cent) and the size of the agency’s current rent roll (two per cent).

This highlights that while day-to-day technology efficiency is all-important to the success of the operational aspects of an agency, it doesn’t automatically build trust or instill confidence.

Done right, effective face-to-face skills are a business tool that costs little yet brings a big return – namely, bigger property portfolios and word of mouth referrals. No amount of whiz-bang back-end technology alone will do that.

And the great news for aspiring property managers wanting to build their rent roll is that just two per cent of the decision-making process relates to the size of a manager’s rent roll. This means that the challenge of building a rent roll can be confidently met by even the smallest of operators provided they have the right attitude and tools.

So, what personality traits will bolster success in the rental arena – and what constitutes professionalism?

A long-time leader in property management Suzanne Brown, of Rentwest, says it’s about great communicators and those who have empathy. She also points to those who can adopt and deliver fair-but-firm procedures when handling tenants, and those who have a desire for knowledge. So it’s important you stay up to date with the property investment market.

Has this changed or evolved over time? “I feel the [present]-day property manager, apart from being a skilled property manager, also needs to be a counselor, skilled negotiator and a good listener, as these are key to building up a long-term relationship with both tenants and owners,” she says.

When it comes to professionalism, Ms Brown points to a dedication to providing superior customer service. However, she states it is imperative they are backed up by an office that has efficient and effective procedures, a good support structure for the property manager and a high ratio of staff-to-properties to ensure they can do their job professionally.

How to be a winner
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