THERE ARE MANY AREAS of your property management business that need to work smoothly and efficiently to enable you to keep your clients – both landlords and tenants – happy. One of these areas is property inspections. Fiona McEachran talks to some experienced property managers to find out how they use technology to make the process more efficient.
THEY ARE A critical part of the job of a property manager, but both the actual inspection and all the administrative work it entails can be very time-consuming. What inspections do property managers need to conduct? An inspection needs to be done when a landlord’s property is appraised or taken on to be managed, just before a tenant moves in, on a regular basis while tenanted and, especially, when the tenant moves out. Karen George is a Console GatewayLive client, Property Management Director at Richardson & Wrench Caboolture in Queensland and winner of the R&W Property Manager of the Year award in 2014. She explains the four different types of inspections that her office conducts:
- Appraisal Inspection
- Entry Inspection
- Routine Inspection
- Vacate Inspection
Appraisal Inspection: This is the first type of inspection, when the property manager goes out to a property to conduct an appraisal and determine what rent should be set. They take along a checklist detailing what they need to look at to assess the property, as well as a listing form and a management pack, which includes a breakdown of their services and prices.
Entry Inspection: This is the second inspection, and it is performed with a lot more attention to detail. The property manager uses a detailed checklist and report to go over the property and takes photographs so that the landlord and tenant can agree on the exact condition of the home at the moment that the new tenant moves in.
Routine Inspection: In Karen’s office, her team agrees the date of the first routine inspection with the new tenant when he or she signs the lease. This sets the expectation with the tenant of their responsibility to look after the property and report any maintenance issues as they arise. Their routine inspections are then carried out on Tuesdays; they are split into zones, so that each zone is covered every three months.
Vacate Inspection: This is also called an Exit Inspection, and Karen’s team does this once the tenant has moved out of the property. This is to ensure that the property is in a similar state to when the tenant moved in. If the property is not in a similar condition the tenant may have to get some work done, including additional cleaning or possible repairs.
When do routine inspections need to be done? Routine Inspections are usually carried out every three months; in some states they cannot be done more frequently than that. Tenants need to be given a minimum of seven days’ written notice.
How are inspections performed? There are many elements required to minimise the time spent on inspections. Conducting and recording the process correctly can also help with any disputes or issues that may arise between the landlord and the tenant. Inspections can be carried out manually, using a notebook and/or a checklist with a pen; they can also be performed using the latest technology – an iPhone or iPad tablet. This is where Console’s GatewayLive inspection app – LiveAgent – really comes in handy, saving time and money.
What is LiveAgent? LiveAgent is the property inspections app, available on both iPhone and iPad, which synchronises with Console’s GatewayLive property management software to make inspections faster and easier. The app is free to GatewayLive subscribers and is the only app on the market with true two-way integration.
How does LiveAgent make inspections simple? The app has recently been re-built from the ground up with property managers’ needs in mind. You can create and set up inspection templates based on the size of the property you need to inspect – one bed, two bed, three bed, four bed, and more. You can create as many templates as you need and open them quickly and easily within the app. You will also be able to see your inspections colour-coded to match the inspection type you need to do – Entry, Routine or Exit.
Can LiveAgent reduce the time it takes to do inspections? Before you get going, you can copy across past inspection data, so you can see what was written and documented the last time you were in the property. This saves you having to either carry around the file or spend time looking back over previous notes and reports. Then, when you are out on the road, LiveAgent displays the upcoming inspections by time and date, for easier filtering and viewing. The integrated Apple Maps functionality also means you can get a bird’s eye view of the properties scheduled for inspection. Then you can plan your journey more efficiently, by deciding the order of properties you will visit.
How will I get more done during the inspection? While you inspect the property, you can speak into your iPhone or iPad with the voice-to-text recognition ability (available on certain devices that have SiriTM and voice-to-text functionality), allowing your comments on each room to be entered with speed. You can save high resolution photos for each area or room directly onto your device and sync back to GatewayLive to be attached to the condition report, but it is important to keep in mind that you cannot take photos of the property interior during a routine inspection unless you have the permission of the tenant. Another great new feature to help you get more done is the ability to log maintenance requests directly from the app that will sync with GatewayLive back in your office.
Does the speed and professional reporting of LiveAgent impress landlords? Zoe King is a Console GatewayLive client who loves LiveAgent. She is the Director of Property Management for Hall & Hall Real Estate in Mt Eliza, Victoria. When the property managers in her office were doing inspections before LiveAgent, they were doing everything manually, using tick sheets for documenting their inspections. These checklists would then sit in a pile in the office for weeks, waiting to be typed up. Now the notes are made directly in the phone, transferred to the computer, and then printed off and posted with a cover letter to the owner. “The efficiency is amazing. Using LiveAgent is much more time-effective. We now send professional-looking, typed reports, with notes included for each room, straight to the owners within a day,” says Zoe. “Also, sending photos with the notes is very important. Our owners can read about the maintenance issue and see a photo, so it has reduced the number of phone calls from owners who need more information.”