We catch up with the person who has been named as the top property manger in Queensland. We ask her what we should be looking at when considering employing a property manager. Loretta Morgan, from Jam Property, is our guest today.
Kevin: Earlier this year in the REIQ, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland Awards, the award for the REIQ Property Manager of the Year went to Loretta Morgan from Jam Property. Loretta joins me.
Hi, Loretta. How are you?
Loretta: Good. Thank you, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Good. Congratulations on the award. I know it must seem like a fair while ago, but you are the current person. I’m keen to talk to you about what people should look for in a good property manager.
What’s important to you? Let’s walk through a few issues. We quite often hear about property management portfolios that are very big. What’s important? Is it the size or is it the quality?
Loretta: I think it’s really important to look at the quality of the rent roll that you’re managing, first and foremost.
Kevin: Okay, relate that then to an investor. How can they make their property part of that portfolio so that it is a quality property?
Loretta: We’re looking at the maintenance of the property. Is the property in good condition and is the landlord proactive in completing maintenance upon request? We want to look at the geographical location of the properties. Are they in a high demand area? What sort of rental returns are we getting on the property?
Kevin: These are all things, I guess for astute investors, if they’re looking at picking up an investment property, they’d have the same kinds of concerns, so they should be able to answer a lot of those questions for you, I’d imagine.
Loretta: Absolutely, they should.
Kevin: Loretta, one of the other frustrations I’ve found in talking to investors is that the property manager will come in and make a presentation – it all sounds very fine – but over a period of time, there seems to be almost a shift in focus from it being about the investor to being about the tenant. How do you get that balance right, and how important is it for you?
Loretta: I think it’s really important to look at. It’s always only ever about the investor and the investor’s property, and the tenant tacks into that. What I’m saying here is that we’re engaged to look after the investor and the investment property.
We’re integral to the success of that property investor’s journey, and it’s really important that we’re ensuring that we’re giving the right information and the right education to the investor and looking after them, but also that our processes are in place and our education is in place for the tenant journey, so then that adds to a better success rate in their property investment journey.
Kevin: Okay. A couple of questions for you, then. What is it you think property investors look for in their property manager? What’s important?
Loretta: I think it’s really important that the investor looks at – and what I find – is what is their level of understanding of the property investment journey or property investing, their experience in the industry, how long have they been, where are they adding value, where will they look after me and my property as opposed to the agent up the road, and so on?
Kevin: Quite often, it’s a matter of us not really knowing the kinds of questions to ask or even if we do know, what answers we should expect. If I were to ask you now, why I should use you, then there are probably a ton of reasons that you’d give me but I don’t know how to drill down into those. What are some of the key questions that investors should be asking? And tell me about the answers they should expect to get.
Loretta: I think that it’s important for investors to be asking – and we have a list of 34 questions, actually, that we go through with our investors on what they should be asking their property managers – but some examples are: what is the turnover in tenants? How long is it taking you to lease properties? Where are your properties located? How many properties do you have on your portfolio? How many staff? Then they can look at staff to property ratios.
Kevin: These are all great questions. They’re great questions that you know the answer to, Loretta. This is the point I’m making. For a lot of investors, they don’t know what to expect back. I could say to you, “How many staff have you got?” and you could tell me six. That doesn’t mean a thing to me. I need to understand how that relates to me appointing you as a property manager.
Loretta: Absolutely. What we do there, Kevin, is we provide them with the answers to those questions and what they should be looking for as minimum standards across the board so that they’re better informed, so that they can make better decisions when they’re appointing a property manager.
Kevin: For anyone listening now who probably has a property that’s maybe been vacant for a couple of weeks, what’s an acceptable vacancy period – or is there such a thing?
Loretta: We’re experiencing a fantastic market up here at the moment and our vacancy rate is sitting at 1.45%, so essentially, we have very minimum vacancies. The average time on market can be zero to maybe even a couple of days, anywhere up to one week at most.
Kevin: Okay, that’s the point I was making. I guess if my property has been vacant for any more than a week, I should be getting a bit twitchy about it?
Loretta: Absolutely. Then you want to be asking your property manager, “What are you going to do to get my property rented?”
Kevin: What sort of feedback are you giving? The other thing I want to know about, too, is when a property is vacant, what are some of the things that will stop that vacancy? In other words, how can I turn it around? Is it all about price, or is it about the way the property appears? Can you give me bit of an insight there?
Loretta: Absolutely. What you want to be looking for is presentation and position. What are the photos looking like? What sort of story are you telling in the description to prospective tenants? How readily available are you making the property for inspections? If you’re setting open for inspection times, when are they? Are they to suit the target market, or are they to suit you, the property manager?
As price is important, those other key factors have a huge impact. What else is on the market that the tenants are looking at? How does that compare to the product that you’re presenting, and how do we have that discussion with our property owner?
Kevin: Earlier in our chat, Loretta, you mentioned that you have I think it was 34 questions that people should ask. How can we get a copy of that?
Loretta: We can get a copy on my website of the 34 questions that you should be asking.
Kevin: All right. That’s JamProperty.com.au if you want to know what those questions are. Of course, if you want the answers to those questions, I suggest that you certainly have a talk to Loretta and her team at Jam Property. Their website, again, is JamProperty.com.au. Pick up those questions for yourself.
Loretta, once again, congratulations on becoming the Property Manager of the Year – very proud of it as you must be.
Loretta: Yes, I am. Thank you.
Kevin: Good on you, and we’ll look forward to talking to you again soon.
Loretta: Thanks so much, Kevin.