Generating income from property investments is a major tool that Australians from all backgrounds use to build wealth and provide for retirement. While some of these investors have the where-with-all and time to manage the properties themselves, the majority prefer to step back from the operational management and hire property manager expertise through a real estate or property management agency. For a small monthly fee that is deducted from the rental returns, the agency will look after the maintenance of the property, conduct regular inspections to ensure the tenants are keeping it in good condition, source suitable tenants and do their best to keep it rented for most of the time.
The growth in this industry has spawned an occupational category that, fifty years ago, was not necessarily considered a full-time career, but was usually something a real estate agent did to keep their clients happy and generate some cash flow when sales were hard to get. Nowadays, the job description of a property manager is fairly well defined and requires a range of skills and experience that could sometimes be mistaken for that of a Superhero.
The purpose of a property manager is to maintain a professional relationship with their client list i.e. the owners of the rental properties. Most owners are in absentia, some of them interstate or overseas, so they are relying on the professionalism of the property manager to make sound decisions on their behalf that provide them a return on their investment. A key part of those decisions is the choice of tenant that the property manager places in the dwellings they are managing.
A property manager attached to a professional real estate agency has the use of business systems based on the applicable legislation which they use to source and screen suitable tenants. This can be a difficult role as property managers, while conscious of their role as guardian of their client’s investment, also form professional relationships with their tenants, and seek to help them find dwellings that suit the tenant’s needs. For example, property managers generally reference-check a prospective tenant and sometimes have to make difficult decisions against certain criteria to find someone housing.
Among the wide range of duties expected to be performed by a property manager are regular inspections of tenanted properties, liaising between the tenant and the owner to have repairs authorised and checking that they have been satisfactorily completed before authorising payment. At the same time they are finding new tenants, inspecting new properties before they become part of the regular rent roll, fielding complaints from both tenants and owners, dealing with queries and preparing reports.
A good property manager is able to maintain the occupancy rate of the properties under their control at a level that generates the maximum return for the owner, while still keeping up the maintenance, and treating tenants with dignity and impartiality. It is a challenging role, but one that generates an energy of its own and typically suits someone who enjoys interaction with people.