Kevin South of Toop & Toop was interested in real estate from a young age. Property management was only supposed to be a temporary stop, but after winning Rookie PM of the Year in his first year he never looked back. Ten years later he’s still here and achieving excellence in his local area of Hyde Park, SA.
What made you choose a property management career?
I always wanted to work in real estate, as my family was indirectly involved in the industry. Growing up, it was always my intention to move into sales after a short time in property management; but I found that I quite enjoyed the day-to-day work of a property manager.
What is it that you enjoy in particular?
I like the real estate environment and the pace. Days are rarely slow and there’s always something happening. Property management is also a great learning curve for everyday life; it’s given me great experience in dealing with all types of personalities.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
I think the greatest challenges are the ever-changing client expectations that have come with the increased use of technology, and people’s need for instant gratification when it comes to information.
Tell us about any of the awards you have won.
In my first year in property management I was awarded Rookie PM of the Year. I followed that up with Assistant Property Manager of the Year the following year within a large franchise group. Most recently my team at Toop & Toop were recognised as the top performing PM team for the quarter.
What makes your agency unique?
I’m very lucky to be working with a company that puts a lot of emphasis on new technology. This makes our day-to-day tasks less time-consuming, and gives us more time to have value-add conversations with our clients and build a strong, mutually respectful relationship with them. I would also say that we maintain excellent relationships with both our tenants and landlords.
What do you feel are the key features in maintaining those healthy relationships?
You need to be honest, open and friendly. Put yourself in their shoes; think of the impact of your actions on them and try and assist where you can. Know your audience and keep them informed the way they want to be informed.
Do you have a mentor, or someone who inspires you?
I look up to a previous colleague of mine, Trish Buhagiar. Trish is the ultimate mediator and taught me many important things about property management.
What was the most memorable or unusual property you have ever managed? Do you have an amusing story?
I managed a house that had a bathtub filled with fish; the tenant was an artist and had been given permission to keep the fish in the bath. The house was filled with quirky art pieces and living displays, and on one inspection the tenant was “his own art piece” and told me that he couldn’t get out of his chair as he was reflecting society’s decline into laziness!
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Not to take things too seriously!
What would be your dream job?
I really want to work with young people who are thinking about property management as a career choice, training and supporting them.
How do you relax outside real estate and maintain a good work/life balance? Do you have a favourite holiday destination?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I have an 11-month-old son, Leo, who keeps my wife and me very busy!
We try and spend as much time at the beach or the park with him as we can, and we like taking him for a ride on the bikes. My wife’s family has been going to the Yorke Peninsula every Christmas for over 50 years, and since having Leo we’ve also started going.
If you could have any three people at your dinner party, who would it be and why?
In all honesty I would have my wife, my son and my parents (they’re always together so they only count as one!) I know this probably seems cheesy but I really do value time with my family above everything. We spend a lot of time at work and it’s very important, but when there’s any spare time I want to be with them.
What are your predictions for the real estate industry for the next year?
I’ve been noticing the rise in lifestyle renters over the past few years and think this will be an ongoing trend. I think smart investors who continue to offer good-quality properties with attractive features will see steady returns, as they will attract people choosing to rent rather than those looking to buy.
What advice would you give someone starting out in property management?
Property management is a great career. It can be the basis for lots of different career choices and will teach you plenty about life in general. Don’t let the negative people get to you – there’ll always be plenty of them!