EPMEPM: First Person

A Vision for Property Management

AUSTRALIA’S PROPERTY LANDSCAPE is changing and the traditional renter stereotypes are making way for a major systemic shift. Renting is becoming a well-accepted and conscious lifestyle choice. The positive news? There’s consistent growth forecast for the years ahead. With over seven million renters in Australia, this large and fast-moving sector is on the rise, replicating global trends.

ON REFLECTION, 2015 was an exciting, dynamic and highly successful year for Rent.com.au. When we first set out a vision for the company in 2007, property management was an industry still in its infancy, with less than a handful of key property management software uploaders and limited representation of the property management- related services that we now  see. Today, Rent.com.au is strategically placed to respond to the landscape shift and will seek to provide renters and the wider industry with the services needed to make the whole renting process  easier and more professional.

With this in mind, we are well  placed to offer a few observations on the state of Australia’s property management industry and the challenges and objectives it faces in the year ahead. As high vacancy rates remain an issue in a number of capital cities today, the task of finding new managements and sourcing good quality applicants to fill vacant properties are key challenges. Our latest survey data indicates a focus on three fundamental issues: communication with tenants and owners, preparing higher  quality ads and tenant retention.

Improving on relationships will be a key objective. PMs desire to build better communication with their tenants and owners to create the best customer service possible. Most survey respondents (64 per cent) said they valued communication as a top objective in 2016, wanting to work more effectively and be capable of supporting their tenants and owners in meeting both short- term and long-term objectives with their property.

It’s also clear that the industry wants to create better-targeted, more successful online listings to fill vacancies quicker and with good tenants. On average, PMs add more than six photos to a listing (72 per cent of the time), while  the remaining 28 per cent generally add between three and five photos. But what’s the golden number for success?

PMs indicated they wanted to know how to improve their online marketing and upgrade their photography to better their enquiry rate. So knowing the target audience, creating a picture of the offered lifestyle and presenting great quality photos will be key to developing better marketing techniques for any agency going forward.

Planning for better tenant retention strategies will also be key in 2016. Retaining good tenants is of paramount importance to the growth of any agency; 82 per cent of PMs said building their rent roll was ‘very important’. For the year going forward, most PM departments indicated they wished to grow their rent roll by 50 per cent in 2016 (28 per cent), while 26 per cent of respondents envisioned it growing by 11 to 20 per cent.

It’s by no means an easy feat. We know PM’s are all too often faced with challenges which have the potential to derail even the best set of objectives. Implementing new technologies in a busy marketplace is an ongoing task as the landscape continues to shift and demands for PMs’ time and understanding are pushed. Other challenges include having people attend the viewings once they’ve booked in a timeslot, and competition against other agents who continually cut their fees. We know this doesn’t even touch the surface of what the industry tackles on a daily basis.

If you’ve got some time in the New Year, have a look at how you might tackle the top issues. How can you improve your communication plan to tenants and landlords? How can you make your ads more appealing? How will you keep good tenants? As we move on into the year, Rent.com.au will continue to work with property managers and agents to provide the services they need. It’s great to see that our message is resonating across the industry with an invigorated wave of enthusiasm and support for our vision.

Rent.com.au’s vision remains to create the complete marketplace of products and services needed in the renting process by renters, property managers and nonagent landlords. A long-term view remains of expanding this vision into Asia and using our other assets like lease.com.au.

It’s an exciting industry to be in right now and, on behalf of the entire Rent.com.au team, we extend our very best wishes for a prosperous 2016 to you all.

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Mark Woschnak

Mark Woschnak was formerly the CEO of Rent.com.au