In this preview of his Transform Masters Coaching session, Kul Singh, Executive Manager – Rent at realestate.com.au, talks about the current trends in the rental space, the expectations of landlords and tenants, and how to improve your online listings.
My name is Kul Singh. I’m from realestate.com.au.
Q. Why are digital efficiencies important in PM?
Kul: The reason it’s important is because the property management ecosystem is getting disrupted faster than ever before, and that’s because there are some low-cost, low-service, high-volume providers coming into the ecosystem, charging less than 2% in property management fees.
For us to command 7-10% in property management fees, we need to think about how we continue to excel in customer service. I’m not talking about how you can increase your customer service versus the agency next door i.e. the best agency in your suburb. I’m talking about the best customer service and experience that tenants and landlords have ever experienced.
I’m talking about Airbnb, who play in this space. I’m talking about Facebook, Instagram, even companies like Qantas, who have digitised the internet experience for travellers.
If you compare that to property management, which is still very mundane for some tenants, which is all paper-based, and how they have to cue up for property inspections. We have to think about how do we excel in customer experience.
Q. What trends are realestate.com.au seeing in the rental space?
Kul: Some of the interesting stats we’re seeing at the moment with our website…if we think about our Supersix, we looked at some data and more than 50% of the searches in their suburbs are for the rental market, not for the ‘for sale’ market.
I guess that’s interesting for us, because if we think about how much time and effort we spend on the ‘for sale’ side of our business, versus the ‘for rental’ side – both realestate.com.au and our customers – it’s an interesting mindset for us, and thinking about how do we try and shift more resources, more training, more money into the rental market.
The other stat we’re seeing is what we call the online OFI. The Open For Inspection online, and how 57% of our landlords are doing the digital interview online, before they decide to shortlist which property managers they want to talk to.
Q. What are tenants and landlords looking for in a PM?
Kul: 80% of our landlords that we’ve talked to want to talk to property managers and work with property managers. The same for tenants. I guess the three things they want is to be relevant, seamless, and fast.
Relevant for the property management space is all about knowing your stuff. Being the expert in the area, the stuff that the landlord doesn’t know. What I mean by that, the most recent example around tax depreciation, and what you can and can’t claim in asset depreciation.
You need to be ahead of the game, and inform your landlords around what they can and can’t do. You also need to use information demand data. What type of tenants are interested in that type of property. The typical age range, the income, the months where there’s the most peak in terms of interest. You need to bring that information forward, so that you can be seen as the expert from a landlord.
The other things around seamless and fast. Seamless is around ensuring you can enable tenants to find your property easily online, and to be able to inspect it easily, as opposed to queuing up. We had over 330,000 Open for Inspection bookings through our website in August. So to be enabling things like that will make it seamless.
Then Fast, keeping tenants informed as to how they’re going with their application. So many tenants are frustrated where they say they apply for a property, and have no idea where they’re at. Keeping them informed is exactly what we’re wanting to do.
Q. What is most important as far as investors are concerned?
Kul: For the landlords, it’s pretty straightforward and simple. They want to find the best tenant. More than 82% of the landlords we’ve talked to claim that finding the best tenant is more important than filling the property, say today. They’re willing to wait an extra few days or a week, as long as you provide them with the best tenant.
Even if you think about rental yield, more than 75% of them have said they would prioritise finding the best tenant over a higher rental yield. That’s because for them it’s about capital growth. It’s about ensuring they find the best tenant for their property, and they protect their asset, that’s typically over $350,000.
So ensuring you take your time, you inform your landlords on, “We need to spend some time, we need to invest a little bit more in finding the best tenant,” is the right thing to do, because that’s playing to what they want.
Q. How do you make your listings stand out?
Kul: The simple way to stand out is to ensure you’ve got strong branding for your agency, and that you’re prioritised towards the top of the page, because more than 56% of consumers don’t go past page one. You need to ensure you’ve got strong branding, and you’re prioritised.
Once a tenant clicks on your listing, you need to ensure the quality of the photos is exceptional. Think back to what I said at the start around Instagram and the best experience. Even your for sale listings, if you look at the photo quality in for sale versus for rent, there’s a vast difference in terms of quality. There are some low-cost providers out there today that for up to 50 cents to a dollar, can touch up your photos. Why wouldn’t you leverage that to ensure you create a great experience for tenants?
Because we know 78% of our tenants have said that they look at the quality of photos before they decide which OFIs to go to. So it’s critical to ensure you get the get best tenant, which again plays back to what your landlords want.