When most people think of property investment they get caught up in the buying, selling, renovations and capital gains they are hoping to make. Tenants and weekly rent are way down the list on things that are “important”. Leah Calnan from Metro Property Management see’s things differently. Leah was the winner of the REIV’s prestigious ‘Residential Property Manager of the Year Awards in 2010’ and currently the Director of Metro Property Management.
Jason Penna recently asked Leah about some of the important aspects of rental properties and what drives Leah to provide such a unique and comprehensive service to her customers. Read on.
1) Leah you have been involved in property management for many years now and have won some very prestigious awards, what is it that drives you and helps you maintain your love of property?
“I am driven by both my own personal success and the Metro experience” – Leah Calnan
When you love what you do, it’s easy to get up every morning and come to work. I am driven by both my own personal success and the Metro experience we endeavor to provide to every client, the great success’ achieved by clients and the team members that surround me at Metro.
I love nothing more than to see my clients expand on their own property portfolio. I often feel that in some small way I have contributed in their success by providing all the necessary support and advice that a good property manager should offer. I also enjoy working with clients who are first time investors. They are often nervous and have many questions about what happens next or what happens if I have a bad tenant and they stop paying the rent. Being a property investor myself and having the ability to relate to these questions allows me to highlight the different strategies we may or may not need to implement should the need arise.
I built my first property at the age of 19, so when all my friends were going out, I was working 2 jobs to maintain the mortgage. I think that’s where my love of property started. I saw the value of the property increase. I saw my parents buy property and I started to understand how I could build equity which automatically allowed me to purchase my 3rd property by the time I was 25. And still all these years later, I still love property. Now I have a combination of both residential and commercial property, but residential will always be my true love.
2) You manage hundreds of properties, could you describe the traits of your most successful landlords and how do you think it could be replicated?
“listening to the advice provided” – Leah Calnan
Some traits of my most successful landlords would include, listening to the advice provided (irrespective if they like what they are hearing or not), communicating regularly with the property manager, inspecting the property from time to time or when suggested by the property manager, being proactive with maintenance and understanding that they don’t ‘make things like they used to’ – so maintenance is just part of life as an investor.
3) How important is it to have a consistent approach to increasing rents and how often should it be done?
“Rent increases should always be in accordance with the market conditions” – Leah Calnan
It’s highly important to have a consistent approach to reviewing the rent and any subsequent rent increases should always be in accordance with the market conditions.
4) What would be your advice to property owners who would like to increase rents but have not done it in ‘quite a while’ because they have long term tenants and do not want to loose them?
“It’s all in the planning, work out a plan” – Leah Calnan
Work out a plan with your property manager. I have never come across a tenant who was happy to receive a rent increase, so if the rent hasn’t been increased for awhile, work out what the owner would accept as a compromise and then start negotiations with the tenant. If the market conditions allowed for a $40 per week rent increase, and the owner is happy to receive $20 per week, talk to the tenant and work on achieving a new rent of $30 per week. Its $10 less than market conditions so the tenant will still receive a win and $10 more than the owner expected to receive. It’s all in the planning!
5) Can you tell us a little about Metro Property Management and how your business model operates?
“Metro PM clients receive a seamless service throughout the business” – Leah Calnan
Metro PM is a specialised property management business which leases and manages properties in over 220 suburbs across Melbourne. We are able to provide such unique services by creating 3 key areas of expertise within the Metro business model, this includes property management, leasing and client management/administration. Every team member works closely with the other to ensure the clients receive a seamless service throughout the business.