Archive for the 'Investors' Category
Honestly! I live in a home and all I do with the curtains is open and shut them! Where is the need to pull them down, swap them round, loose them, replace them, steal them, and basically give property managers all manner of grief??!!!
Don’t they know that investors do not like being told that the brown Aztec curtains that have lived there quite happily for 10 years are now orange? Or missing … Ok, so you might think it is obvious why the investor does not like being told that, but bare with me. The plot thickens here …
The real issue with missing curtains is that if they are over seven or eight years old they have absolutely no value in the eyes of the adjudicator. None. Zip. Nadda. Ain’t worth a red razoo.
I have just been to Tribunal and part of the claim was $800 odd to replace the missing curtains. How old were the curtains? I am asked. Well at least five years I answer truthfully. Ok, comes the reply. Then they only had 1 or 2 years of life left in them. The value of the replacement curtains is taken and divided by the expected life of the old curtains and allocated an amount per year. Less what they had ‘lived‘ left in this case approx $100 that the owner was awarded. Hmmmm …
My protests of “But the owner may not of chosen to replace them for another 10 years!” Fell on polite, but deaf ears. Nor was my cry of, “He had no choice but to replace them because of the tenants actions”, heard.
I was however enlightened on the subject of ‘Betterment’. (I am grateful for the lesson.) It is not upon the tenant to leave the property ‘Better’ than when they moved in. They aren’t really even expected to leave the property in the same condition. Oh don’t get me wrong. Damage will always be pursued through the tribunal system. But basic wear and tear, basic lived in stuff is absolutely acceptable. But that isn’t what I am talking about here.
Really, *sigh* … what I am whining about, and procrastinating over, is the fact that I have to make another one of those phone calls. And I don’t really don’t want to!
October 12 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Tenants | No Comments »
So here I am being a ‘Property Manager’ … I’m feeling a bit “set-up” about having to raise the bar and write a ‘blog’ … Ahh well, having to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and all that … So here goes …
Wow, where do you property managers find the time?! Talk about 55 balls in the air at one time - seriously! My brain had to come up with a ‘category-memory-mode’ to keep up with all the individual jobs, properties, landlords and tenants on the go … and notice how everyone sends you an email, or phones you, launching straight into the request … my hand is frantically scribbling down the point of the call, while my brain is whipping into it’s ‘category-memory-mode’ retrieving essential data: Who is this? From where? Are they returning my call? Am I supposed to know something about this? – You property managers seriously get the ‘high five’ from me!
I have met some amazing tenants, landlords and tradesman over the past few weeks – people really are such fun – the physiology of it is just so interesting - the tenants who phone you the day they miss rent (love them) and then the other end of the scale, the ones who just will not answer your calls (got that one sorted – surprise visit in the afternoon, just nowhere to run!). No matter what walk of life, people are people, and what a great industry to sample such a cross section.
So these past few weeks … I feel like I have dealt with everything: Absconded tenants, blocked toilets, lovely little old ladies who have dementia and want to talk for an hour, Court, and … less than clean tenants. Talk about a steep learning curve! Getting just the right level of “Yes, I want to help, but no I can’t spend all day on you” is quite a juggle. Thank goodness so far everyone is just soooo nice. (I can just hear Di sitting on my shoulder giggling “you think that’s everything? Wait till next week…”).
I have to say our contractors are brilliant. They rush up to our emergencies at a drop of a hat, are reliable and do a fabulous job – We couldn’t do it without them … even if they are a little bit too cheeky!
Diane – you are seriously talented at this Management role – I have been so proud of you. Listening first hand, how you deal with the inevitable ‘disgruntled issues-in-the-closet’ that get aired when there is a change of property manager. Absolutely, beautifully handled – with every case. Your added stress of two ‘newbies’ in the department – asking questions left right and centre, training, teaching, coaching, keeping an ear out saving us from making mistakes we don’t even know we are making! – pure professionalism. You deserve a sunny trip to a deserted island to get your sanity back … Oops sorry, can we make it a weekend to Auckland so you can be back by Monday?
A great team in here – Claire, Hayley and Diane – it has been an absolute pleasure to be part of it.
Just quietly loving it … I think … Well today anyway.
Off to make some calls… why are they not sending back their lease renewals? Hmmmm …
Company Director and currently an ”Allens Property Manager”
August 24 2011 | Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Tenants and Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
One thing that sparks me up instantly is an inadvertently dropped “truth”. Words unconsciously uttered that suddenly shift how I see myself and my world. Exciting stuff for me!
So remember I told you about the landlord who helped shape me as a property manager? The man who was, and is again now, my partner in “The Dance of Property Management”? Well he has been back in the country and we were talking over coffee. The fact that he was back a mere three months after leaving indicates to the savvy that something out of the ordinary had transpired. Well done those of you who joined those dots …
Okay, okay! I’ll share his wise utterings. (I still smile when I remember the look on his face as I suddenly got lost in the concept of what he said and had to grab my pen to write it down … priceless. Here it is:
Integrity is a spectrum. We choose where we place ourselves in that spectrum.
I think I have made it abundantly clear how important integrity is to me both personally and professionally, so you can imagine how this casually uttered pearl of wisdom sparked around my brain, It was like a tumble lock slowly shifting, changing and clanking in to the correct position to open.
Now I know I may sound overly dramatic about the whole issue of integrity, but here is why.
A ball had been dropped by Allens around one of his properties. And as manager of the department he was looking to me to see what Allens thought about this. There were no demands, no righteous indignation, no thumping of a fist on the desk. Merely a polite and gentle, “Well, this is how I see it, what about you?” and a pause, then a further “See what you can do”
So I take the trip down the rabbit warren that is our office to Vanessa’s desk (Director of the company in charge of the rental department) and I go into bat for the owner. And this is where another dance takes place. Have you ever been so blessed to have a boss that invites you to tell them why they might be wrong? One who says, well this is what I think and this is my decision based on that, but keep talking … I want you to make me change my mind. A boss who is completely open to whatever you throw at them and is actually not just open but genuinely enjoys the process of working through stuff?? You may be getting a glimpse here of why I am a loyal Allens gal through and through.
Anywho – Ness and I to-ed and fro-ed, yes but, no but, but what about and have you thought about … for two days. And at the end of the two days we reached a result that Allens could live with and that the landlord can live with. But more importantly to me I think, is we reached a result I can live with.
The reason is because the decision aligned with where I place myself on my integrity spectrum, and where I believe Allens stands in that spectrum. I have a very wise boss because every time she gives me an opportunity to professionally stand where I choose to stand personally, she creates a deeper respect within me for her, the company, myself and the process.
It is deeply satisfying to know and experience that I will never be asked to represent myself or this company in any other light than one that reflects my personal placement on my integrity spectrum.
And I’ll share a final secret. It truly works. It flows. It is like a hot knife through butter.
*Sigh* … and a very contented one at that!
July 25 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Uncategorized | No Comments »
I spent some time with a particular landlord today. He is based permanently off shore and comes home once every three years to go through his properties and to do any renovations that may be needed. This man holds an honored place in my work heart. I started in property management five years ago and I inherited his portfolio. I had absolutely no experience, but I was absolutely passionate. He has a large portfolio with the company and has many years experience, both as an investor and as a landlord who has dealt with many property management firms. He is calm, patient, reasonable and quite possibly the most sensible man I know!
Personally, and in retrospect, I realize I owe this man some kind of public kudos. So, here it is. This man was professionally gentle, incredibly patient, absolutely clear and concise. He explained, knowing that I couldn’t possibly know it to a degree that was of any use despite reading file upon file, the history of his tenants and properties. He explained his expectations. He laid down his “no go” zones. He encouraged me, he graciously accepted my clumsy apologies, he supported my decisions and offered alternative suggestions and he generously acknowledged my growing strengths. Consistently. For an incredibly green, but entirely enthusiastic brand new property manager he wore a halo and wings. He helped to shape me.
My manager of the time, Rik, also helped me by believing in me. Every time I took a monkey and threw it at his desk hoping it would bounce and latch onto his back, he would smile, block, parry, and I would walk away with my monkey chortling in my ear. Bless him.
I learnt, at a soul-deep level, ownership of what is mine. Protection against what is not mine. The ability to educate those to whom it truly belonged, and the skill to negotiate my way between company, investor, tenant and the law. As I see it: Property Management 101: Communication, Education and Negotiation.
I am eternally grateful, to this landlord, to Rik, and to Allens. And I hope that maybe some investor out there is reading this, and really gets, that the relationship with their property manager is not simply of a service expected and of a service being provided. (That would provide such a substandard service.) It is a relationship for both to be all they can be, to get the best result possible. It needs to be symbiotic.
Let’s face it. There is a high degree of ownership and real personal responsibility for all involved. It is a partnership. It is a dance. It totally works best, when the dance is harmonious, rhythmic and consistent… And I am humbly grateful to have been blessed by such a dance.
May 20 2011 | conflict / resolution and Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management and Relationships and Uncategorized | No Comments »
Lately we seem to be butting heads a little with some tenants regarding the condition of a property after they have vacated.
The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986 Section 40 (e) (iii) states: the tenant shall – on the termination of the tenancy – leave the premises in a reasonably clean and reasonably tidy condition, and remove or arrange for the removal from the premises of all rubbish.
Now I will admit, with a degree of exasperation, that “reasonably clean” and “reasonably tidy” are subjective terms.
The dictionary definition of reasonable is: sensible, not making unfair demands, logical.
So, is it sensible to leave black finger marks on light switches? Is it fair that if you spill food and beverages down the front of cupboards that you leave the mess there for someone else to clean up?
Is it logical that rubbish is removed from the house but left in the garage, behind the garage or under the house? And what about skirting boards…..is it “reasonably clean” when you don’t even try to remove the dust build up? … Don’t start me on the ovens!
But all of those examples are quite clear and we have no problem saying “fix or pay”. It is the ones where the tenant has wiped benches down, but used a dirty cloth to do so leaving smear marks everywhere. I have had an adjudicator tell me that the smear marks may be dirty to me, however it did prove that the tenant had made a “reasonable” attempt at cleaning. And she is right. The tenant had very conscientiously cleaned almost every surface of the house. Her intention was to do the right thing. She just didn’t think to wash her cloth from time to time! … Frustrating!
Now if you have a great relationship with the tenant you can gently suggest that a re-wipe would be beneficial. However, handled roughly or any previous history of contention is likely to leave you with a “Nah huh! Been there, done that, you don’t like it, then you do it” kind of response.
So where is this leading? Other than me letting off some steam? Well we tell our landlords, and I sincerely believe this, that is a very good idea to factor into their budget allowance to pay for a commercial clean every 3 or 4 tenancies. If you simply leave the quality of the clean to the tenant it will gradually, over time, go down hill. That is logical. It is much easier to set a high standard of cleanliness, if it is sparkling clean when they went in. The same adjudicator said to me, renting properties is a business. Business comes with expenses. Expenses that are the business owners. Her judgement scale? Say the best would be a 10 and the worst a 0, then in the adjudicator’s eyes she tries to settle on a 7.
Property managers hold tenants responsible as much as possible, and it totally rocks when owners say ok, lets get this back to the standard we want. Then the property is rented quicker and attracts a great sort of tenant and it is easier at the end to say well, we can PROVE the quality of clean when you went in, not just with photos and reports, but because this home is consistently kept to a great standard by landlords that care. And we have the invoice history to prove it. The adjudicators love it. And we say ditto!
So, to all the Property Managers out there I ask you this: ”How you deal with this common occurrence – where do you draw the line?”
March 31 2011 | conflict / resolution and Investors and landlords and Relationships and Tenants | 5 Comments »
Ok, fasten your reading glasses, I am about to rant!
Let’s start with the media! Oh where do I start with the media?
Maybe with the observation that whatever they say about the real estate market, sales or rentals, tends not to be so much unbiased reporting of facts, but more of a “it’s a slow news day so lets see how we can stuff with the markets today” kind of reporting?
Or shall I start with the totally insensitive (oh I am seriously embarrassed you are asking those questions) reporting that happened in the first 24 hours after the Christchurch quake? “So you called your daughter to say good bye, and how did that feel? And how did your daughter feel?” All while the poor woman was trapped under her desk and she didn’t even know if she was going to be rescued! OMG! Ahhhhhh!!! Bloody idiot!
It is high time society learnt that the media can not be trusted. Just because they say something, it doesn’t make it true! What do they say… 98% of all stats are made up? (I just made that up… see how easy it is?!) The media can make any situation look any way they want it to! And they do! That’s why I loved Paul Henry. At least he was both brutally honest in his opinion and he was completely transparent about his bias. And he challenged everything that didn’t make sense to him. Arrogant? Undoubtedly! But he provoked both thought and discussion. He shone a spotlight on festering scabby sores that needed to be opened up to heal. (Ewww! … Did I write that?)
Gone are the days when you switched the news on and got a “balanced”, well prepared, thoroughly investigated story. Or maybe it never existed. Maybe I just thought what they said was balanced and true. Maybe I was naive. All I know is right now I find myself turning the news off more and more, and I find myself uttering the Tui advert: “Yeah, right …”
Why am I ranting? What provoked this particular rant? Well, the local paper ran a front page article specifying a real demand for a particular section of the rental market. “Can’t get enough of them!” ”Real shortage”… Bullocks.
However I am glad they didn’t call me this time for my input, because they completely misquoted me last time, with entirely the wrong context. This time, I called around a few other Property Management firms in town to see why our experience was different from what was (apparently) happening out there in the marketplace. Ahhh … turns out these people were just as confused as us. “Really?” They said… “Really??”
Hmmm. The truth is, what happens in Auckland is not immediately reflected in Whangarei. Or even for months. We can tend to track their market over time, however we have an over-supply at present. Not an under-supply. And when we look at terms of “high-end” or “top-end” then that is a subjective thing as well. Allens “top-end” is $450pw and over. And these are the properties that are sitting. Another Property Management firm in town describes high-end as $380 – $450pw and these properties are moving okay for them. Our mid range is also moving very well – in fact, we are constantly seeking out more…
I heard Sarah Palin on the weekend using a word I fell in love with. “Sheeple”. A Google search defines “sheeple” as: (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a term of disparagement, in which people are likened to sheep; and: People who unquestioningly accept as true whatever their political leaders say or who adopt popular opinion as their own without scrutiny. - Let’s not be sheeple people. Let’s think for ourselves and make our own decisions. Become informed, and not by watching TV news programs! And if you want to know what’s going on in the rental market, call us. We’ll tell you the truth.
March 16 2011 | Investors and Marketing and Media | No Comments »
Now every week, I sit here and try to express to you all how passionate both Allens and the individual property managers here at Allens Property Management are. I hope in some small way you are getting a sense of what we are creating here and what our individual standards are. I do this each week because I believe it is the most important part of property management. If one is not passionate about property management, it falls in to the “it’s just a job” category. And to be honest, a property manager with that attitude is never going to deliver brilliant results. They will never fulfil the expectations of the company, the landlords or the tenants that work with them. And they will be miserable while they fail.
And to be brutally honest, you have to be passionate to survive the waves of dramas that periodically roll in. The passion is like a surfboard, if you will. It is the tool that holds you above the dramas (I would really love to phrase that differently… C#@P… But it doesn’t fit my metaphor!). The “surfboard” allows you to negotiate the waves as they crash around you. It is quite simply what holds your head above water and guides you to shore. (Oh my, aren’t I poetic today?)
Sometimes, when you can feel the swell of dramas rising beneath you, and your sixth sense says: “watch out”, you can feel a quick moment of “Oh S%#T!” as your mind scurries frantically, checking your actions, making sure all your ducks were lined up just in case this happened. But thankfully, that is just your intuition warning you of danger and trying to protect you. As you mentally check and prepare for the potential storm surge, you can relax a little because your consistent passion has future proofed you, the company and your investor.
So where am I heading with this? Well, it’s like this. One of the really cool things about Property Management is the acknowledgement you get for a job well done. The gift baskets, flowers and wine are absolutely wonderful and are very gratefully received. The chocolate overload delivered to Tracy one day was very impressive! And then I received a phone call last week from one of our investors that I think tops the lot for a genuine display of praise and gratitude…
He is one of our bigger investors. He is a long term client with a large portfolio that he steadily adds to. He is a wonderful landlord, very easy to deal with and he understands the business of balancing money with people and their actions. He also understands that our requests for new curtains, carpet and paint from time to time are to protect the marketable value of his portfolio. In general we don’t negotiate our fee. We believe we are worth what we charge and the steady growth of our roll supports that belief. We did however negotiate a discount for this man around eight months ago. It was a gift from us for his ongoing loyalty.
So imagine my surprise when he calls me in my role as manager last week and informs me that he would like to gift back to us the discount we offered. He said that he believed we were more than worth it and he is fully aware of all we do for a small slice of his rental income. He said he considered Allens a great investment and that he had always been happy with the service Allens provided. He added Allens are always “on top of it” and are very quick to sort any problems. Therefore, he would be happy to pay full rates and asked that we please alter our system to reflect this.
Wow! Isn’t that outstanding? So you see, I know our passion for property management is evident. And when we are rewarded with that type of attitude, it helps to feed and grow the underlying passion felt by all.
So I sit here and type this with pride and joy inside. We rock. And it is not just me that thinks so.
Diane Wright Manager,
Allens Home Rentals
March 02 2011 | Customer Service and Investors and landlords and Management | 1 Comment »