Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ungrateful? No way..We have been unable to thank you!

We've seen some big changes since the new Privacy Act commenced on 12 March 2014 and it has prevented us from thanking some of the most generous supporters of a great cause.

Earlier this month, Genevieve and I were involved in a fantastic fundraising event, Bail or Jail, to help raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. The amount raised in three hours was a staggering $35,000. We were completely overwhelmed by the support of the community and the number of callers who rang in to donate. 

Now, two weeks later, and after a number of attempts to obtain the list of callers, we have been told by different parties that privacy laws prevent the names being passed on. At the time of writing this we have still not been able to see who donated but we are waiting to hear the final verdict. No one understands why, or agrees that this should be the case, but it seems the onerous provisions and huge penalties have created so much risk for organisations that they need to tread extremely carefully. So from Genevieve and I, this is a huge THANKYOU to those that supported us and donated to the Leukaemia Foundation and helped bail us out!

The new Privacy Act is proving to be much tougher on businesses and now includes three additional Australian Privacy Principles, one of which covers the disclosure of personal information both for direct marketing and across the board. Data collection and storage is essential in all industries and ensuring it's done correctly is now paramount – the penalties are very heavy!

So what will this mean for us in the real estate industry?  

Privacy, and taking the appropriate steps to protect it, is extremely important to us. We have been reviewing our business practices to ensure we put privacy front of mind and that we are compliant with the Act, whilst also putting the needs of our clients at the top of our list.

We've already stopped collecting information at open inspections on paper. Toop&Toop record personal data straight into our patented software on iPads which stores the information securely on our computer servers. We are completely up and running in Sales (and Rentals is not far behind). Having bits of paper floating around the office (or in an agent's car) with client's names and numbers is no longer acceptable. We are committed to making the necessary changes in our business.

We have seen first hand with Bail or Jail the extent of the Privacy Laws and how far they seem to have come. One thing is clear.. the game has changed and taking steps to proactively protect privacy is a must.

Suzannah Toop

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

The health of a company is more than just the bottom line. Staff retention, sustainability, community engagement, profit and loss, culture, systems and databases–just a few examples that you hear about when you study a business degree.

But what you learn at university and what happens in the real world may be quite different.
So what is it that really makes a healthy profitable business? Ask a hundred business people and you will probably get a hundred different answers. But the common theme is likely to be centered around the people.

The 'business environment' we work in today is very different to the environment of 28 years ago when Toop&Toop started. The pressure on companies to move quickly, to be constantly connected and the expectations to always be available are the new challenges that businesses face today.

Suzannah and I have thought a lot about this. In a 24/7 profession, how do we deliver the very best service to clients without burning out?

We decided to think outside the square and have been working on a plan since January. A plan to provide our team access to a wellness expert, provide a corporate gym, create team building healthy activities and coach our team on healthy habits.

Last week our plan became a reality as we launched our Toop&Toop Wellness Centre, an Australian first–possibly a world real estate first. Extremely exciting–breaking new ground as we turn our attention to running a health conscious organisation and enhancing the lives of our team. 

Suzannah and I knew that our team were often faced with compromise–to stay back and ensure the job is done properly vs getting to that 6pm gym class. With the opening of the Wellness Centre, our team can now do both, ensuring that they feel fresh and energised during the week and also delivering the customer service levels we as a business expect. Mental and physical wellness is so intertwined with our worklife in real estate so for us it is a no brainer that the two need to come together in a business like ours.

Daily group classes are under way...Circuit, Boxing, Boot Camp, Pilates, Yoga as well as one on one consulting with our team to establish their personal health goals. The result? Our team have completely embraced it and they are already experiencing and enjoying the benefits of clarity and energy throughout the day.

Our aim is simple. Make it easy for our team to become fit and healthy, both mentally and physically.

By creating an environment focussed on our team's health, we passionately believe this will ultimately lead to a more motivated team, leading to higher energy levels with improved productivity and service for you, our client. A healthy and more wealthy team... A win/win for everyone!!!

Genevieve Toop

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's a small Community.

Today we go to the polls again to elect our inspirational leaders who will solve all our worries and make life in South Australia good and fair.

For the past weeks we have been subjected to non-stop bickering and horrible behaviour (rubbish) on our televisions. We drive around this beautiful city and have been subjected to a proliferation of the visual litter and clutter of political campaign banners.

While all the debates and sledging went on, the small business community was locked away in new legislation training on all new rules about residential Landlords and Tenants, and new Privacy laws.... all hitting right now in March.

I scratch my head and wonder how many more big sticks these new
leaders can dream up to make our lives more complicated, make us more fearful and make us all more accountable to "dreamt up" red tape and a theoretical new world established by these genius leaders.

Where have the rules of "common sense and self accountability" gone? Where have the self-imposed standards of good community citizens gone? Is it possible with all these rules and regulations we are no longer able to think about what is right and what is wrong ourselves? Are we this dependent on regulation with rules and fines to know how we should behave as a community?

Well as a seasoned business operator, I see the cost of all these rules and regulations to business is growing by the day. The cost of sending staff continually to seemingly non-stop learning of new rules, new regulations, new responsibilities, new fines, new licences is becoming quite a joke.

Last night I was putting my new real estate agent's licence in my wallet. I realised if I'd been asked on the weekend by the real estate police to see it, I would have been fined for my licence being a week out of date! If I forget my wallet and leave it in the car, I cop a fine! It has to be on my person! What??!!

To the new geniuses that will be running this madness, how about giving the community some credit for self-regulation? What about rewarding good behaviour rather than the threats and the massive fines hanging over all of us, even when we are focused on being really good community leaders. What about giving some responsibility BACK TO US to do the right thing.

We are a small community, by far and away we are all trying to do the right thing and look after each other...maybe it's time to find a better way before we all have nervous breakdowns trying to administer and adhere to this avalanche of new heavy handed legislation.

Vote one...COMMON SENSE.

Ours is a small community, it's time we had some love.

Anthony Toop

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Landlords – the stakes have been raised.

This week the highly anticipated new Residential Tenancies Act came into play. From March 1 all residential investors, whether self managed or using an agent, are operating under a new legislative framework, and the stakes for non-compliance with these laws are much higher than before.

The new Act has more rigid guidelines and timeframes in place for landlords and is stricter on penalties and expiation fees when the Act is not followed. Going forward, both the landlord and managing agent have increased responsibilities under these new reforms.

Key Changes: Some key changes relate to appliance instructions, changes to rent review guidelines, a fixed window to invoice tenants for water, greater ability to receive landlord compensation, changes to notice periods for entry and disclosure requirements when selling a tenanted property.

Long time coming: Toop&Toop have been preparing for the changes since late last year. Our Property Management team were trained by REISA's Compliance Officer in November last year and last Thursday we held a compulsory session for our team to ensure the reforms are front of mind. We have also adopted significant system and operational changes to stay ahead of the game for our landlords. 

So many are asking the question; With all the changes, should I still invest?

The short answer is; The business of being a landlord is simply becoming more professional. The winners will be those who embrace a more business like approach to property investing.

Looking at the pure investment side with no emotion, the latest RP Data statistics show home values in Australia have increased over 11 of the past 12 months (on a rolling quarterly basis) so property in Australia is performing well. We have all heard about the record sales set in Sydney and Melbourne recently but we would argue that there are even better investment opportunities right here in our own state.

Adelaide is still one of the most affordable, least volatile capital cities in Australia. With home values recording a modest 2.5% growth since January last year, we don't experience the highs and lows like Sydney and Melbourne. Looking at the current real estate cycle, Adelaide's home values are down 2.3% since our previous peak that shows positive signs to investors, as there is room for growth. 

We believe that Adelaide is just entering the upward trend in the cycle. Investors can achieve long term, sustainable growth and there are some great investment opportunities in the market right now.

If you are looking to invest, or have existing properties, now more than ever, professionalism is paramount. With over $1 billion in rental properties under our care, we are serious about investing in Adelaide property. Give us a call if you would like a chat about this new legislation or any of your property issues. 

Being informed is being aware and now is a great time to be reviewing your investment strategies. 

Suzannah Toop

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