As Business Development Manager for Ray White Darwin I have been responsible for developing a range of different services for NT landlords and thought it best to give you some pointers in choosing the best agency to manage your property.
The adjustment that has occurred in the Darwin market has caused many investors to review the value of their management and many owners are reviewing the value of their management. One of the key things to understand is the value of old fashioned word of mouth, this is more valuable in today’s world than it’s ever been and we all remember well before social media people relied on looking for trusted recommendations.
Talk to your co workers, your neighbors, your friends and ask them who they use and who they would recommend. This information is vital as these are people you trust and you know they are telling you the truth as they have nothing to gain from telling you otherwise.
A good Property Manager will be well known for delivering results in low vacancies and well maintained tenancies so you need someone you can trust to deal with one of the largest investments you might have. If you are not based in the NT and can’t ask locals for their opinion then the next best place is Google Reviews. Have a look online and see the reviews left on the agency’s Google page, are they good, are they bad, are they from tenants, landlords? Really take some time to do your research on this as it will help you make an informed decision. Look at the agency’s Facebook page which will give you yet another valuable insight into the opinions of the general public that they are dealing with, what does their Facebook page and their reviews tell you about them?
Another key area you might like to focus on is brand and experience, choose a well known and trusted brand, at the end of the day experience and industry knowledge means you are in the best hands possible. Well known brands usually have large resources in place to make sure all staff are well trained, licensed and kept up to date with industry changes. Today’s leading brands expect their staff to be delivering customer service that will pass the scrutiny of public review and demands an extremely high level of professionalism.
A very important aspect that is a non negotiable when doing your research are the services offered and the possibility of any hidden fees or charges, make sure you read the terms and conditions of your contract with the agency you choose. At the end of the day this is a legal contract which is no different from any other so you need to make sure your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed. Dig deep on the services offered and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on something if you don’t understand, an agency with nothing to hide will be more than happy to answer your questions promptly. Things to look out for are fees for services such as inspections, insurance claims, tribunal fees and lease renewals. These are all pretty standard in most of management agreements but ensure you are aware of the individual costs. One important area that might be easily missed are notice periods within a management agreement between you and your agency, check the notice period in case you have a change of circumstance. These differ between agencies but it is something you will need to be aware of in case it becomes relevant at some point. Again this information should be clearly noted on the terms and conditions you have been given however it is always best to read the full document and seek advice from a professional if necessary.
This next section may sound quite blunt but in my opinion honesty is the best policy here. You pay for what you get in this industry, therefore if you decide to go with a moderately low priced agent then expect to get a moderately low level of service. Time and time again I see landlords come to me who have made the wrong decision in the first place when it came to agency selection and unfortunately it didn’t end well, these are landlords who have decided to go with a cheaper agent and have based their decision solely on that percentage rate. the percentage means nothing if your property sits on the market vacant for 2 months, in this market the real losses occur from vacancies not falling rents.
The final area that I believe is worth a mention is doing your research on the agency you are speaking with, research the team and the services they offer. It would be a wise idea to write down your top 5 questions before you make your initial enquiry call and have them ready so that you don’t forget to ask anything during the conversation. A good Property Manager or BDM should cover most if not all of your questions without you having to ask so heed the warning signs such as these if they are there. Don’t forget to have your trusty note pad beside you for those all important notes when it comes to decision time.
And last but not least…trust your gut instinct. At the end of the day it is important that you feel comfortable with the agent you choose. Make the decision wisely and listen to your instincts.