Dealing with regional property managers



“The biggest challenges investors will incur is understanding the people, places and habits of the regional sector,” says Sam Saggers, founder of Positive Real Estate, who adds that your dealings with property managers in regional areas usually need to be relationship-based.  

“The choices investors have in city markets are usually vast. There are plenty of agents to choose from. In regional markets, a township may have only a few choices of agents, [who] may vary in level of service. The worst thing you can do in a regional environment is alienate the agency you are working with. Remember, these are small towns and cliquey environments.”

Towns without property managers 

Saggers also warns that some regional markets have no agents in the town and have to be serviced by agents in larger centers far away. If this is the case, the cost of servicing the property increases.

So too does the risk if it is a one-agent town. Saggers recalls how Wee Waa, a cotton town in regional NSW, had only one agent in town who serviced the area for forty years. When he retired there was no one to fill his place and now the town is serviced by expensive agents who are not from Wee Waa.

Old ideals 

Saggers says that it is common for property managers to have quite different views to owners. “Agents with old ideals often are reluctant to push rents up – particularly if your tenants are older members of the community and larger regional townships do tend to have large retirement communities.”

Saggers also points out that costs tend to be higher in regional areas. “[With] limited competition and a high need for real estate agents and tradespeople, you can often pay a premium in rental fees, sometimes as high as 11%+GST and more for repairs and maintenance than you would in a city.”

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  • Jenny J says on 29/01/2013 03:04:50 PM

    This article appears based on generalisations and, from my experience, to be ill informed. At different times, I have invested in metro markets (Marrickville in Sydney, Stuart Park in Darwin) and in rural centres (Orange and Emerald Beach in NSW). I was also a tenant for about 10 years in Sydney. I have experienced several different property managers as investor and as tenant. Essentially, it is encumbant upon the investor to establish a positive relationship with their property manager, no matter whether they are located in metro or rural areas, and to negotiate with the property manager their expectations about how the property is to be managed and to perform (eg repair when required to existed standard or refurbish when the opportunity arises; minimum frequency of inspections and info to be included in the agent's report; frequency of rent and valuation appraisals etc). By far, my worst experience as a landlord was with an agent in Darwin, part of a large franchise, with a poorly trained property manager who was unable to evaluate and advise actions needed to tenant the property. My worst experience as a tenant was with an agent from a different large franchise located in Newtown who, at the end of my tenancy, made application to the then RTTT to claim a large amount of unjustified costs. My former flat-mate (a solicitor) and I (investor) took the agency to task at the RTTT and were awarded rental rebate payments, which until that point we had no intention of pursuing. When it comes to property managers, fostering a positive relationship with someone who is committed to their own professional development, has experience or access to effective supervision, and demonstrates sound ethics are the most important criteria.

  • Phil L says on 29/01/2013 03:34:04 PM

    I recently purchased my first investment property in Moree NSW. I have found the property management excellent, its good to deal with some honest country people rather than the 2 faced greedy metro real estate agents. I would love the bottle of wine so I could give it to our property manager.

  • Tony says on 29/01/2013 05:02:03 PM

    All real estate and for that matter any business dealings are relationship based unfortunately our current generation of tech savvy kids have decided that doing business can be done via an iPad etc.

    Whenever you try and express true feeling via electronic media with emoticons your business negotiations will fail. So whether its a metro or country agent I'd recommend a face to face, how else will you see body language, hear voice deflections, pick up on lies.

    Most agents are in general good honest people wanting to help others with their property transactions, so as rule regional operators have to be far more character based i.e. as good as their word, than metro agents, it is a lot harder for a country agent to hide from the truth if they are discovered to be full of it as opposed to our metro guys who can hide, change area and franchise colours, move on and nones the wiser.

    I love how all the comments are from discontented clients who have learnt from their poor judgements of character and basing their thoughts on regret or resentment, I suspect users of modern modes of communication to do business, try the meeting face to face with your agent and then decide who you do business with, stop reading blogs, Facebook comments and other forms of electronic whingers to base your decision on.

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