New and Improved Processes at MBIE for Rent Arrears

MBIE have advised that a new and improved Tenancy Tribunal application form will be available online on 17 November 2014  to add to processing efficiencies of MBIE.   The old paper formats will be phased out by 15 December 2014.

FastTrack Resolution is also a new service and is available through the new online form.  It is specifically designed for rent arrears.

The new online forms require a RealMe login to be obtained via www.realme.govt.nz.  MBIE have advised that for offices where more than one person lodges applications, functionality to create administration access and be able to delegate to others to submit their applications have been added to the RealMe log in set up process.  This will allow for a data bank so offices can view what applications are in place with such applications being visible for 60 days.  Drafts can also be saved and worked on for 7 days.

MBIE have advised that the new and improved Tenancy Tribunal online application form is available from mid-November 2014 at https://secure.tenancy.govt.nz/TenancyTribunal.

Investing in a property manager

Having bought the first investment property there may be a tendency to do things the good old fashioned DIY Kiwi way. Maybe a bit of painting or other DIY, finding a tenant by advertising the property, conducting an initial inspection, understanding the legislation throughout the whole process (tenancy application, tenancy agreement, bonds, what each other’s obligations are etc etc), collecting the rent, checking that the rent has been paid, inspections, dealing with emergencies, maintenance, daily reconciliations, monthly reconciliations, disputes, mediations, and the list goes on.

As investors, it is very easy to think we can do everything and in the process lose sight of the big picture.  Smart investors see that their time is actually a cost, that delegating the daily management of a property to a specialist is not only tax deductible with good legal and accounting structures but takes away some of the risk of doing things themselves.  For example, some insurance companies require inspections to take place as outlined under the policy.  If one of them is missed, and an issue occurs, there could be a disagreement regarding a claim. Be sure to check your policy.

Smart investors have realised that their time is best utilised at what they are specialists in  –  focusing on the big picture of expanding their portfolio.   Time could be better spent looking for the next opportunity or if a property has been purchased with some  blue sky factor such a sub-divisable section, doing the numbers and possibly developing it.

How many DIY investors have actually calculated the cost of their time by being a property manager? Here is an example.

A $450 per week property that is with a professional property management company whom charge, for example,  8.5% plus GST on all rents collected.  That’s $1989 per year the investor pays before deductions.  Property management is a 24 hour service – if something goes wrong, there is someone at the end of the line to take action while you are sleeping or on holiday or at work or spending time with your family.  There are 8760 hours in a year.  $1989/8760 is 23c an hour.  Is your time worth more than that?

Having visited many offices around the country it is great to see so many great property managers and many well run property management companies.  There is passion and enthusiasm for what is a very difficult role – one where you are continuously dealing with issues, and are on call 24/7.

In general, a property manager looking after your property should take care of the following matters:

  • have good systems and processes to tenant the property – ensuring it is advertised with good photos at the right market rent and that checks are carried out on the preferred applicants.  Sometimes the market speaks differently and it can be a bit of guess work but a good property manager will review MBIE statistics, the market your investment home is located in, its features and condition,  its specific location and provide general advice to you of what the market might pay.
  • ensure a well drafted Tenancy Agreement is in place.
  • manage the relationship between the tenant and the landlord as your agent.  Known as an “arm’s length” relationship that takes emotional aspects out of managing a property but doesn’t abdicate your responsibility as a landlord.
  • ensure that rent is paid on time and in accordance with the Tenancy Agreement.  Deal with any unpaid rent in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and its amendments- following due process.
  • conduct regular inspections (including a comprehensive initial inspection and a bond inspection at the end of the tenancy).
  • ensure maintenance is highlighted to you as it arises and when it comes up in the inspections.  Property managers are not building inspectors – they can only advise on what they see and is obvious.
  • work with you to be proactive with your property rather than reactive e.g. arrange maintenance quotes for you.
  • deal with any breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and its amendments.
  • maintain a comprehensive knowledge of legislation and provide guidance and advice to you to ensure compliance.  Represent you in mediation or in the Tenancy Tribunal.
  • be able to advise on market rent for your property.
  • keep you informed and have good communication that suits your style – whether by phone, email, both, letter writing etc.
  • pay your rent to you minus commissions, disbursements and any other costs e.g. maintenance at least once a month.
  • ensure good business processes are followed – having your property with a professional company should mean that they are operating professional management software, have audit or accounting review of financial process, have good systems and people – all designed to mitigate risk and offer protection to you as the consumer of services.

It seems to make sense to consider the services of a property management company who have good systems, processes and of course, great passionate people to look after your investment portfolio.

Agent Profiles

A great way to be noticed and share your skill sets and expertise is to complete your profile on realestate.co.nz.  It can even win you and your company business.

Using phrases such as “property management specialists”, “managing property for x years”, “experts in property management”, “collectively, we have over x years of experience” are helpful for investors to start to build a rapport with you and your company.

Spend time thinking about what you, your team and your company can offer to the investor and the skills that help a person who is looking for a property manager understand how great you will be to look after their livelihood.  Ensure you run the spell check and that the commas and apostrophes are in the right place (no apostrophic crimes please!).  You can even provide links to your company’s website, Linked In page and company Facebook.

If you haven’t set up your profile, email us at info@realestate.co.nz and we will help set this up for you.  You will just need to do the word smithing.

We are here to support your growth and profiling is a great way to be noticed.

Our Latest Rental Wins

At Realestate.co.nz we have been working hard to support you.  We have achieved a few wins and can proudly report the following:

  • We have more overall property listings across all of our sites (sales, rentals, business, commercial and farms) than our nearest competitor (measured 31st August 2014).
  • Our rental searches have gone up by 55% in the last year (Google Analytics Rental page tracking – July 13 to July 14).
  • Realestate.co.nz has over 1.6 million searches for rentals every month (Google Analytics Rental page tracking – July 13 to July 14).
  • The time people spend on each of our pages continues to be on average nearly 4 times longer.

We recognised that we needed to have a dedicated focus on property management.  It has been great to meet some of our property management professionals at the recent REINZ Boost conference and throughout New Zealand at our seminars.  We have also touched base with many property management specialists by phone, email and in person.  We are passionate and committed to property.

In early September 2014, we launched our TV campaign. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN0leHg8x3I.  The first frame of the 30 second ad is of a couple looking for an apartment to rent. The TV ad is throughout prime spots and will run for several more months.

As a result of our recent television campaign and our other marketing initiatives in print media, newspapers, radio and online banners together with your fantastic support, visits to our pages have gone through the roof.   One of our great online banner ads is running with the Metservice as Kiwis love to check out the weather.  Spring is upon us, day light saving is here and BBQs are being used!

If you haven’t downloaded New Zealand’s Number 1 Property App,please do and tell all your clients (tenants, investors, contractors).    It is free, has been downloaded more than 230,000 times.  It is available for Android and iPhone.

iPhone and iPad App:   http://www.realestate.co.nz/iphone

Android App: http://www.realestate.co.nz/android

We are dedicated to supporting you.    Please calls us or email us with your ideas and suggestions.  We are here to listen and grow with you.  Vesna Wells is  our dedicated property management specialist at realestate.co.nzvesna@realestate.co.nz or 021 488 972.

Our top 10 Investor Tips

1. Keep wall and carpet colours neutral. Classic neutral tones and colours tend to appeal to a wider audience.

2. Install smoke alarms. There are excellent low cost, long life battery operated smoke alarms that can be installed at very reasonable prices. One smoke alarm could save a life.

3. Work with your property manager and real estate agent regarding your next investment. A good property manager will assess the market rent and give some general advice about its ‘rent-ability’. While your property manager cannot give you investment advice, they can give you the benefit of their experience.

4. Invest each year in cleaning paths. A slippery path could cause harm to a tenant or their visitors. Slimy paths also look unsightly and may impact on first impressions when the property is available for rent.

5. Invest in a good advisory team. Good structures play an important role in investing.
Your team should consist of:
• Accountant;
• Lawyer;
• Bank manager;
• Property manager; and
• Real estate agent.

6. Create a contingency fund. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly. Pipes can burst and so can your blood pressure. Mitigate stress by considering having funds tucked away earning interest in case of urgent and unforeseen repairs.

7. Read widely. There are great publications on investing including books, monthly property investor magazines, local investor groups, market wrap-ups providing rental statistics for each area of New Zealand and newsletters from your property management company. A well-read investor is an informed investor.

8. Ensure your insurance broker knows that you are an investor. Check your insurance policies for your rental properties carefully. If work is being carried out at one of your properties, e.g. a roof replacement, it is prudent (or it may be a requirement) to notify your insurer. If your property is vacant for a period of time, some insurance companies require that they be notified. Read the fine print.

9. If your property has a chimney, ask your property manager to arrange for it to be cleaned each year.

10. When buying your next investment property consider whether it has any ‘blue sky’ factor. Can a bedroom be added in easily? A large section could be sub-divisible and another investment property or two built. Check the Council rules.

Tenants – Putting your best foot forward

Searching for a rental property can be stressful, especially in peak periods such as the beginning of each year, when demand may out-do supply.  Here are some tips for renters – how to put your best foot forward and increase the chances of securing the property you really want.

First impressions count.  Like a job interview, being well presented and dealing with the lettings agent or property manager in a pleasant manner will certainly help. Surprisingly, some people are not aware that simply being polite may sway a decision in their favour.

References. Good property management companies will check references in respect of your renting history.  Typically, they will ask you for these from your most recent landlord and the previous one.  If it is your first time renting (e.g you have been, or still are, a home owner in a different locality), good character references will be beneficial; your employer may provide an important reference. For students, the property management company may seek a guarantor, such as your parents or guardian, to guarantee the rent and take responsibility for any damage or issues that may be caused during the tenancy.

Credit check.  Property management companies will typically check your credit history with permission (which is usually granted on the application form).  If you have any blemishes on your record, be ready to explain them.  Sometimes businesses may failProperty management companies can be understanding of these situations.  If you have made, or are making, an effort to put things right, no matter how small, this will serve you in good stead.

Pets. Some of us are pet lovers and others are not.  Investors will generally prefer to rent to a tenant without pets, simply because of the risks and possibly greater amounts of wear and tear.  Having said that, there are many responsible tenants with pets and pet-loving landlords.  Introducing your pet to the property manager may make the difference between securing a tenancy or not.  Promise (and include in the agreement) to thoroughly clean the carpets on vacating of the property so no pet smells and/or stains remain.

Honesty and completion.  Be honest with your application and complete all sections. Property managers become suspicious of blank boxes!  If you are unsure about something, ask.

Mobile phone and email address.  In today’s environment, these are important.  A property manager will want to have contact details to reach you in the case of an emergency.

Next of kin.  A sensitive subject. Tenants do become sick or pass away in the their homes. Being able to reach loved ones or friends can be important.  Be sure to provide next of kin details as part of your tenancy application, regardless of whether the form asks for it or not.

Live within your means.  Don’t be tempted to choose a property that is beyond your means.  It is better to chose a cheaper rent than one that will stress you out from week to week.  Most property management companies have a zero tolerance for rent arrears.  Don’t become the subject of a 14-day-letter or worse.  These things get noted and form part of your renting history.  They will come up through the reference checking process when you need to rent again.

Realestate.co.nz Has More Rental Traffic Than Ever Before…

As the newly appointed property management specialist at Realestate.co.nz, it has been a privilege to talk to our property management industry colleagues over the last few weeks.

We understand from these initial conversations that one of the keys to success in the rental arena is to let the public know we have rentals on Realestate.co.nz.

Our recent campaigns have been designed to build brand awareness of Realestate.co.nz, and drive more traffic to your listings.

Since our current campaign started in June, we have done the following:

  • Created four innovative and creative advertisements for press and digital banners, which push the message “visit Realestate.co.nz for the most homes”.
  • Run over 150 full page and half page insertions across 22 Newspapers and Magazines nationwide.
  • Run a national 12 week radio campaign.
  • Run a digital campaign targeting New Zealand eyeballs, which has now had over 4 million impressions.

Realestate.co.nz will be continuing to run marketing campaigns throughout August with a television campaign booked for early September that includes a push of our rental message.

Overall Results:

Visits to Realestate.co.nz hit record levels in June, with over 45,000 unique people looking at homes on on the site each day. In terms of growth, this is a massive 56% increase in visitors over the last 12 months1.

This growth is being seen site wide, rental searches and rental listing views have also increased hugely over the last 12 months. Realestate.co.nz rental pages are now seen over 1.6 million times each month, and this is a 55% increase on the same time last year2.

Additionally, we have had over 225,000 downloads of our app, and all your rental properties can be found in the dedicated rental section of the app.  If you haven’t downloaded the app, please do and tell all your colleagues and friends!

Your support:

We thank our industry colleagues for supporting our dedicated property website, for being open about what we are doing well and how we can continue to grow.    Most of all, we thank you for your commitment to helping us all shine in our market place. Keep spreading the word!

Please do not hesitate to contact me any time with any ideas/views/suggestions you may have – vesna@realestate.co.nz or on 021 488 972.  If I haven’t seen or talked to you yet, I will be soon!

Vesna Wells

Category Manager – Property Management

Statistic Sources: 1. Nielsen Average Daily UB comparison Jul 13 – Jun 14. 2. Google Analytics Rental page tracking. Jul 13 – Jul 14.