A place for everyone: Green St Property

In the heart of the Newcastle CBD, just one street back from the Hunter River, a small real estate agency is making a big impact in the property management arena. From virtual inspections to online applications, Green St Property's PM department and rental process is entirely digital. Kylie Dulhunty sat down with the Green St Property team to find out where the idea came from, why it works and where they're headed in the future.

Green St Property is no ordinary real estate agency.

It’s 11am on a Saturday, and while property managers all over Newcastle are unlocking doors to show potential tenants through their available rental properties, the Green St PM crew already has theirs leased.

In fact, the agency has done away with rental property open homes completely.

Marketing Manager Eddie Toubia says the property management department and the renting process are 100 per cent digital.

A quick search under the rental viewing times section of the agency’s website confirms this – there’s none listed.

So how do tenants view the property they wish to rent? 

“We do virtual inspections,” Eddie explains.

“From the application process to the virtual inspections, to the signing of the lease, property management is 100 per cent digital.”

Time for change

Eddie says before COVID-19, Green St Property ran its property management department in the traditional way, with property managers opening homes multiple times a week for would-be tenants to take a look.

But when pandemic restrictions took hold, they had to quickly develop an alternative.

The agency decided to film personalised walk-throughs, aka virtual inspections, for every property for lease or sale.

While the sales department has primarily returned to in-person inspections, the property management division has no plans to follow suit.

“It’s taken off wildly and has been highly successful for us,” Eddie explains. 

“Honestly, we can’t see ourselves going back to anything traditional in the way we approach property management.”

The positives of virtual inspections have been three-fold, with the tenants, landlords and the property managers all benefitting.

“The best thing from an agency perspective is the processing time,” Eddie says.

“We are so much more efficient.”

Eddie says other benefits for property managers include not having long commutes to conduct open homes that may only see one or two people turn up, and more time to spend on tasks such as thorough routine inspections, rent reviews and keeping lease renewals up to date.

Tenants appreciate not having to keep their home ‘open ready’ and then leave every weekend for an inspection, while prospective tenants love that they can view a home at any time of the day or night.

“People can do an inspection in their 30-minute lunch break on their mobile phones while at work,” Eddie explains.

“We’re also finding the quality of people we’re reaching is far better than what we have ever achieved before.”

Everyone wins

Senior portfolio manager Carly Pukallus says there are numerous benefits for landlords too.

“We’ve had such good results in terms of ensuring that vacancy periods are reduced significantly,” she says.

“We’re getting people into properties within days of them being advertised. So, it’s great for our owners because they can start receiving their rental income almost immediately.”

In many instances, the rent achieved is up to $70 per week above market value, with Eddie noting the virtual inspections help create more competition for properties, and potential tenants are often keen to ensure they snap up the property immediately.

Carly says she and her fellow property managers – team leader Lauren Forbes and portfolio manager Stacey Finnigan – each appear in the virtual inspections for the properties they manage.

They give a guided tour where they show prospective tenants each room and talk in detail about the features of the home.

“We wanted to put more of a personal touch on the videos,” Carly notes.

“It’s different to what anyone in Newcastle has done previously. 

“The person watching the video can then become familiarised with either myself, Stacey or Lauren. It’s a chance to meet your property manager and put a face to the name.”

Awards an APT reward

Carly has won multiple excellence and property manager of the year awards in recent times but says rather than being just a personal honour, they are recognition for the hard yards the team put in during the challenging pandemic period.

“They are for the results we achieved during Covid, when it was very stressful, not only for business owners but for property owners and residents themselves,” she says.

“It’s for making a process that’s normally stressful for people that much easier.”

That mentality fits perfectly with the Green St Property ethos of working with vendors, buyers, landlords and residents to find, nurture, grow and protect their real estate investments.

It’s a set of values that stems directly from the Chief Executive Officer Peter Aloupis and Chief Operating Officer Amanda Aloupis – a husband and wife team who launched Green St Property six years ago.

With more than 40 years of experience between them, Peter and Amanda know the value of hard work, both having grown up working in their parents’ family businesses.

Peter’s parents immigrated from Greece, and he worked with his father, who was a baker, before getting into real estate; starting as the guy who’d knock in the ‘For Sale’ signs out the front of a listing.

Amanda worked in her father’s podiatry clinic until he retired, before joining Peter in real estate.

A clear vision

The pair initially operated boutique agency Solid Property before merging with another business and forming Green St Property.

“We were already a boutique agency under our own banner, but we wanted to diversify and have a bigger rent roll,” Amanda says.

“Our vision is to own the most positive reputation in the industry.

“We don’t want to be number one; we just want to have the best team and for them to be a part of us on that journey.”

One of Green St Property’s other key mottos is, “A place for everyone”, as the 12-member strong team aims to help everyone move into their ideal home, whether renting or buying.

Eddie says this includes assisting Newcastle’s homeless population through the charity work it does in conjunction with Soul Cafe.

The agency supports the cafe’s annual Sleepout for Soul, which raises funds to help those who need it most with meals, food packages and other essentials.

“Every year, they do a Christmas drive too, and we use our database to reach out to clients, our investors, vendors and others to organise food donations and Christmas hampers,” Eddie explains.

The agency is also in the early stages of setting up Green St Foundation, which would be a charity arm of the business.

Eddie says the agency aims to provide the first Sleepbus in Newcastle, a mobile, temporary, housing option for homeless people.

A Sleepbus contains secure climate-controlled sleep pods that can provide a warm, safe space for the homeless to stay overnight. 

“We don’t have one in Newcastle yet, so our aim is to get the first one up and running,” Eddie says.

Other plans for Green St Property include growing the team, building the property management side of the business and helping team members move up the ranks through dedicated training and mentoring.

“I think sometimes training gets left behind, and it’s not always a part of everyone’s business, but I think it’s key for everyone to continue to learn, develop and grow,” Amanda explains.

In terms of adding team members, Amanda says she and Peter will ensure every new hire possesses six key character traits – being thorough, a go-getter, a team player, optimistic, innovative and caring.

“It’s about finding the right people at the end of the day,” she says.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.