EPMEPM: Best Practice & Legislation

Nothing routine about this inspection

A common frustration for property managers is landlords wanting to achieve top rent for a property they don’t want to spend money on improving. Edge Property’s Nick Brown explains how he gets the job done without shocking his owners.

Property managers are often faced with the unenviable task of educating investors and owners on how a property will deteriorate with age and wear and tear.

A property manager on a recent online forum summed it up perfectly with an analogy of getting a car serviced.

Everyone gets their car serviced and invests money into making sure it is safe to drive, presents well and causes minimal issues.

This is a great explanation, and it begs the question why property owners don’t think their property is something to invest in to ensure it looks its best, is safe and causes them little hassle.

Throughout my career, I have regularly done routine inspections, and as well as reporting the condition of the property and how the tenant is keeping it, I also suggest improvements needed in the future or when the property is next vacant.

Looking at properties we have re-leased this year, we have had owners who have:

  • Repainted throughout
  • Replaced floor coverings
  • Installed air conditioning units or ceiling fans (especially coming into summer)
  • Freshened up gardens and lawns
  • Replaced window furnishings.

In some instances, owners have achieved rent increases of up to $50 per week, depending on market conditions at the time.

One owner went to the expense of new paint, carpet and window coverings knowing that while they wouldn’t get a rent increase, but the property needed to be freshened up.

They were aware the property was tired and that it wouldn’t have achieved the prior rent return if it was left as is.

How do you get owners to invest this kind of money between tenancies?

It’s not to say: “Mr and Mrs Landlord how do you feel about investing a good part of $10,000 between tenancies?”

The key to my success rate of improvements is that my owners are conditioned through every routine inspection report as to the state of their property.

Mentioning things like: “The tenant is taking care of the property and there is no immediate maintenance to report at the time of inspection” is something we all mention.

But what if we said: “While the tenant is taking care of the property and there aren’t any maintenance issues to action at the time of inspection, we would recommend that when the property becomes vacant, you repaint and recarpet. This will help with the rentability of the property but also help you achieve the most rent you can”.

Not only do we see direct results on the rental side of things when an owner spends some time and money improving a property, we believe this attention will help the owner with capital growth.

We don’t have to be valuers, builders or be able to predict the future to make suggestions like this.

It’s easy to do with our own eyes and knowing what makes a property more attractive to tenants when it’s being advertised.

I have two property owners at the moment who know they will need to replace carpet and repaint within two years and they have known this for the past couple of years.

This way the news that it’s time to make improvements will not come as a shock, and when the property is vacant, we will put a plan in place to get the job done, get new professional photos and bring it to the market with its new look.

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Nick Brown

With over 20 years’ wide-ranging experience in real estate, Nick Brown is the founder of Edge Property and runs his own Training and Advisory Service to educate agencies and their teams.