Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016... what an incredible year!

This year, our 31st year for Team Toop, has been a year of milestones, achievements and successes. And as a family business we could not be more proud. 

We've been judged by our peers at the Real Estate Institute of South Australia Awards and received numerous accolades across all areas of our business; Residential Agency of the Year, Property Management Agency of the Year, Marketing, Innovation, and we were honoured to receive Employer of the Year for our industry.

We've set new highs and achieved amazing outcomes for our clients, including adding to the history books, with Thebarton becoming Adelaide's latest million-dollar suburb.

Our team has worked closely with local community groups to help raise more than $2 million through charity auctions to support those living with disability, medical research and disadvantaged children.

All of this could not be possible without the support of South Australia behind us, so thank you SA! From all of us at Team Toop, we'd like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to 2017 with you.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Christmas is just 15 days away...

But you want to sell urgently. What do you do? 

First of all, don't panic. The number of sales in the final days leading up to Christmas is staggering, so keep focused right until Christmas Eve, as it is not too late! Team Toop has worked across 31 Christmas seasons and time after time, the results we have experienced through this period are incredible.

Over this particular period, we see that many of the year's buyers are frustrated, wishing that they can put an end to their search and secure their new home before Christmas. Similarly, sellers are often tired of the sale journey and are in the mood to finalise their sale before Christmas so they can move on and open a new chapter in the New Year. This period over the next two weeks therefore is critical for sellers. 

Smart real estate agents will ensure they are on call and ready to help right up until Christmas Eve to put these contracts in place. Buyers are often spontaneous at this time and there is a real risk they will not be there in the New Year.

Our experience is that during the window between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, there's a huge amount of property enquiry but very, very few contracts. History shows us that genuine enquiry to purchase in this window is minimal, becoming especially tough on sellers given the time of the year with family and holiday commitments adding extra pressure on top of their house sale journey.

What is fascinating to see, is that we can pretty much pinpoint to the stroke of midnight on 31 December as the point in time buyer behaviours shift.

Buyers are excited in January; totally starved of property, revitalised and rearing to get on with things. There is a sense of optimism about a New Year. New buyers hit the streets, and interstate and overseas activity peaks in January. Why? Because buyers have time. Many buyers have been on holidays and they are starting to get bored, they are ready to get into the year and 
lock in their purchase so they can book into the right schools. January is a very strategic month 
to sell, and we love it!

Team Toop has a long track record of success selling clients' homes in January. We have a specialised campaign designed during this time to sell property for premium prices, last year achieving 47 sales in the month. 

For those who have been frustrated in 2016 trying to sell their property, we have specifically prepared cost effective and powerful selling strategies designed for this time of year. I strongly recommend you pick up the phone and get Toop&Toop out to see you this week!

We are finishing 2016 with a bang and the current market is achieving great results. Our sales over the past six weeks have been strong, including many off market sales, and a significant trend of homes selling prior to auction. Please feel free to call or email me direct if you'd like to have a chat about selling your property, and I'll get the best person for the job to see you as soon as possible. Happy house selling Adelaide!​

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Investors, the bar has been lifted.

Earlier this month, the State Government announced new legislation that every property manager in South Australia is to be licenced. This is great news for investors and an exciting time for property management in our state. 

At Toop&Toop we see these changes as a big and important step forward. With the official press release titled 'Clock ticking on dodgy property managers', it seems Deputy Premier John Rau MP and the SA Government are as enthusiastic as we are that licencing requirements are finally being introduced in our state.

So how will this benefit landlords? 
Property managers are professionals managing portfolios upwards of $100 million in residential property. We are entrusted to look after peoples' biggest assets and are in a position to optimise or hinder clients' investment returns. 

With increased training provided to all property managers, we expect to see a consistent level of service provided to investors, as well as increased professionalism across the industry.

We know that the daily responsibilities of a property manager have moved away from pure administration or 'just collecting the rent'. We have witnessed this first hand, as well as the impact the changes introduced in March 2014 
in the Residential Tenancy legislation, have had on landlords and tenants. 

For our team, the importance of industry-best training is at the forefront of what we do. Over the last two years, the head trainer at REISA has provided in-house education and training to our property management team. Having the knowledge to advise clients appropriately, and skilfully navigate through legislation, is imperative to ensure landlords' interests are protected.

We take our responsibility of managing investment properties seriously. It is fantastic 
to see that things are moving in the right direction and we see this as a big step forward 
for the industry. The bar has been lifted.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Buyers and renters are searching for that endless summer!

With the weather warming up, cricket season upon us and just days out from the official start of our 2016/17 summer, we have started to see the shift from spring to summer buying behaviours at our recent opens. With the first hot weekend behind us, our team has noticed that the shift in questions and features buyers and tenants have as top of mind, has begun.

In summer, buyers tune into features such as air-conditioning, pools or spas, outdoor entertaining and open plan areas, and really focus on the social features of the home.

Don't get me wrong, having somewhere to entertain friends and family has always been high on the wish lists for homes. However, as the weather warms up these features become even more important to buyers, as they start 
to imagine what summer nights would be like 
if this was their new home. 

During these warmer months, our team notice that buyers will wander through the home, eager to reach the rear of the house to see what the outdoor area is like. Over the last few years, we have seen that a home's outdoor space 
has become almost as crucial as the kitchen 
or master bedroom to buyers.  

With the increase of home renovation shows, new (and very clever!) ways of using this space are continually showcased 
to the public. It is becoming even more popular to transform this space to be a prominent feature of the home.

For townhouses and inner city living, we are seeing outdoor spaces being completely converted into an extension of the main living quarters. With features such as bi-fold doors, decking and bar stools being added, we are seeing outdoor living taken to a whole new level. Some home owners are going all out equipping outdoor living areas with inbuilt kitchens (with range hoods) and surround sound systems... just to name a few.

One thing is certain - Adelaide home-owners are embracing the outdoor living environment like never before, and when the weather heats up, this trend becomes even more popular.

So what about tenants? Do they feel the same? 

Our Leasing Team are finding that properties with an outdoor entertaining or 'funky' outdoor space are attracting 200% more enquiry than the homes that don't offer this feature. We are not talking about anything lavish - just a few small touches that allow tenants to utilise the space when friends visit. Tenants love having the option of creating their own outdoor space - a veggie/herb patch or vertical garden is all the rage! And they will pay for it.

We are finding rental properties attract anecdotally five to ten percent higher rents, lease easily and create a distinct competitive edge for our investors. For example, typically an additional $20 to $40 per week is achieved in the $400 to $600 range if a property has an interesting outdoor living feature! 

Australians love an endless summer. Outdoor entertaining that can be used year round has most definitely become top of the wish list, and this is something buyers and tenants are looking out for, and are willing to pay more for this type of lifestyle.

If you would like to find out more information 
on how we can help you use these summer trends and maximise the sale price of your home, please feel free to give either myself, 
or one of our team a call. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

When the unpredictable hits, we look at what we can control.

This spring we have experienced some extremely wild and unpredictable weather. Most recently a freak hail storm, and of course, the intense storm that hit in late September. Having heard stories of homes flooding, roofs being ripped off and windows breaking, it's no wonder maintenance is front of mind for many investors across Adelaide. 

This can often be worrying for landlords, in regard to the upkeep of their property however, we believe this does not need to 
be the case. 

For us this type of wild weather has demonstrated how important it is to look at what you can control. As agents, we see that a robust after-hours support system is essential 
to your tenant, and in particular your property. 

We are on the front foot and have created a dedicated 24/7 After-Hours Emergency Hotline for our tenants, with an 'on-call' support team including plumbing and electrical services. 

Last week when the hail storm hit we were ready to act and sort things out right away, despite our 'on-call' team receiving 83% more calls from tenants then usual. 

We received various queries from tenants, ranging from a leaking ceiling to electricity going out in the home. We know that in these situations, tenants need our help and guidance, well before Monday morning comes around.

Another focus for our team has been proactively providing our tenants with hints and tips on how to prepare for these extreme weather conditions. Through our national award-winning maintenance program, we are able to communicate directly with our tenants on these crucial occasions. For example, before the severe storm in September, we sent communications to all tenants with tips on how 
to best prepare for the wild weather ahead.

These tips included ensuring items such as their side gate was secure so family pets were safe, to charging mobile phones and electronic devices in preparation for a black-out. Should we be enduring a heat wave and a tenant's air-conditioner fails, we are able to promptly notify them of accurate turn-around times for repairs during peak periods. 

In our role as property managers, proactive communication is so important. Our team have received some fantastic feedback over the past few months, which only demonstrates to me how vital our role is in helping tenants when risky weather hits. 

At Toop&Toop we believe it is important to always be on the front foot. We are here to help and support our clients, inside and outside of usual business hours. When unpredictable weather hits, it's important to be proactive and look at what you can control.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Adelaide is hot property! 26% of Toop&Toop properties sell before they’re even public!

There is no doubt that the residential property market is still strong across Australia. Market conditions for buyers right now are excellent, with the latest statistics from CoreLogic RP Data stating that 70% of Australians think now is a good time to be buying a dwelling. With this incredible buyer demand, the limitation this spring is actually coming from the national shortage of properties to be able to provide these buyers with.

The media hype and general buzz around our Adelaide property market is hard to ignore. Investors from Melbourne and Sydney are looking to our city, local investors and developers are well and truly back in the market and people who already own property are using their current equity to upsize. These are just some of the factors leading to an increase in competition and making it harder for the first home buyers.

In the months of September and October, 26% of our Toop&Toop sales were properties that sold in our ToopVault. These properties were not seen by the public, snapped up by our Vault members who were tired of missing out. These buyers put their best offers forward to secure homes before they become 'public knowledge'. 

There is no doubt that this is a great market 
to buy in, but what about those wanting to sell? 
In the past week, we have found many clients and potential sellers at our open inspections are asking us if it's too late to do something before Christmas.

The great news is - for those wanting or needing to sell - now is the perfect time! There are still three weeks left before Christmas to put your property on the market and six more selling weeks of the year.

So how long will the buyer demand last? It's always hard to judge. We are starting to hear some stories surface around uncertainty in the New Year. The CoreLogic-TEG Rewards housing market sentiment survey, published last week, mentions that 67% of respondents thought the Australian housing market was vulnerable to a significant correction in dwelling values. Consumer sentiment is a big influencer in the residential real estate industry, so these factors could have the potential to impact the property market in the New Year.

One thing is for sure... you can never predict the future. Right now the property market is in full swing, there is a strong demand for property, we are achieving some exceptional sale results including suburb record prices, and finance conditions for buyers are the best we have seen. The momentum in the market is here right now and if you want to sell in 2016, it's certainly not too late.

Give our team a call today and we can put 
the backing of Toop&Toop behind you to 
take advantage of this market and help you achieve a premium price for your property before Christmas!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Setting up your property from the outset… It just makes cents.

Recently I have re-embarked on the journey of becoming a landlord again, deciding to rent out my home in Norwood. Even though I am involved in property investment all day every day and am exposed to what we do as agents, 
I still have questions.

This got me thinking about the role we play as agents, and how important the upfront discussions and planning with a landlord truly are. Every property is different, and no matter how many times you have been there, receiving answers to your questions is so important.

So what are some of the burning questions every landlord is (or should be) asking their agent? What vital areas should be addressed that you might not have thought of?

1. Inclusions and Exclusions.
Are there any areas of the house that you want to exclude from the tenancy agreement? This might include areas such as the cellar or back shed. Also, think about alarms... if there is an alarm system at the property, will you be providing this as part of the property? If not, be sure to exclude it so there is no confusion. 

2. Description of your property.
It is essential to ensure your property is advertised correctly on all marketing and advertising channels. For example, is the air-conditioning evaporative or ducted reverse cycle? Be sure to double check and let your property manager know before the advertising commences. If you own a property 
with a body corporate, we recommend confirming necessary details such as the number of parks allocated to your property. These by-laws can change over time, and it will ensure that you don't end up in a dispute with your past neighbours 
or tenant.

3. Compliance and Preventative Maintenance.
This is a biggie! Compliance in particular is gaining a lot of attention across the country. For something as important as regular smoke alarm and gas heater checks to ensure the risk of an accident is minimised... this is a no-brainer, so be sure to arrange regular checks at your property.

4. Appliance manuals.
New reforms introduced in 2014 provide landlords with some relief with regards to the accountability of operating appliances in the home. Quite simply, if you have provided a manufacturers manual (even 
hand-written instructions) for an item in the home and this is listed on the lease agreement, you are able to claim compensation for unintentional damage to the item under the Act. Be sure to make the most of this by collating the relevant information before the tenancy starts.

5. Fly screens.
Do all of the open windows have fly screens installed? This can catch out many landlords, particularly as the Tribunal does not look favourably on this topic. Ensure you have a quick look around the property and see whether these are all intact.

6. Keys.
This one can be time-consuming and 
a bit of a nuisance, but remember to think of all the places that could require keys... including the letter box! 
If you are considering purchasing an investment property or adding to your portfolio, be sure to chat to your agent about these areas. 

At Toop&Toop, we are here to help ensure nothing is forgotten and you are comfortable with the management process from the outset. Setting your property up correctly from the beginning will save you a lot of time and cents.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Real estate’s night of nights. Thank you SA for all of your support!

This year, the Real Estate Institute of South Australia's Excellence Awards was held on our state's first ever 'I Choose SA' Day. As a local family business of over 31 years, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this fantastic initiative than with our team on real estate's night of nights. Last Saturday, we put ourselves forward across every category that we could, because as a business we believe it is important to constantly test yourself and your ideas. It is what makes you grow, not only as people but also as a team, and helps drive you to continually improve for your clients. 

The Real Estate Excellence Awards night was such an amazing night for our family, and we couldn't be more proud of all of our team finalists. It was exciting to see Jared Campbell take out the Gold in Property Management Achievement of the Year, Sally Cameron win Silver in the Residential Sales Person of the Year - Eastern, and Bronte Manuel recognised as the South Australian Auctioneer of the Year!

As a team overall, we were recognised as the winners of the five largest corporate accolades on the night: Marketing & Communications, Innovation, Employer of the Year, Large Property Management Agency of the Year, and overall winner... Large Residential Agency of the Year!

These awards were very special to us, as each of these categories are integral in delivering an exceptional real estate experience, service and results to our clients and the community.

Property marketing and communicating with buyers are fundamental skills for real estate agents and key to achieving a premium sale price for a home. The way an agent represents a property and how they create emotional connections through marketing is so important in creating competition amongst buyers.

Innovative thinking leads to innovative ideas, and ultimately to innovative products. These become the tools an agent can use to differentiate themselves and the properties they represent in the market. Innovation enables us to achieve exceptional results through products and services that are unique to Team Toop. This year we won the Innovation award for our ToopVault - an innovative product that is one-of-a-kind and that is providing exceptional value and results to both buyers and sellers.

Just like in any business, underpinning everything is your team. Your team are the ultimate keys to success. For both Suzannah and I, being recognised within our industry as Employer of the Year was our biggest highlight of the night. In an industry where collaborating and sharing information is extremely rare, we feel so grateful to have a culture and environment that embraces teamwork and who love collaboration. To have a team who travel from all over the state every Tuesday morning to present their 
client's homes to each other and help one another sell all Toop&Toop properties is so unique, and a perfect example of teamwork coming to life in our business.

Last Saturday night truly was humbling on so many different levels. We are so thankful to our clients and the entire South Australian community for all of your support. It has been a huge year of change, innovation, succession, results and achievements for our team and to have our community's support means so much to us as a family business. 

We are excited to now go on to represent South Australia in the Real Estate Institute of Australia's National Excellence Awards in these five categories in Canberra early next year. We hope we can make our state proud!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

With pets or without?… That is the question!

The pet industry is booming! Collectively Australians spend over $8 billion* on their pets or 'fur babies' every year, and with new products and services becoming available almost daily, it's no wonder this is such a growing industry. With organic health foods for dogs, doggy day care and pet retreats becoming the norm, the days of pets spending the day in the backyard kennel are long gone. There are even seatbelts for when pets travel!

With over 63% of Australian households 
owning pets, this trend has me thinking, what impact will this have on property investors 
and lease agreements?

Traditionally we've seen 'no pets' as a standard term as pet horror stories made their way around the investment circles. Nation-wide this has been a strict approach taken by many investors to ensure their asset is protected.

With 'pet bonds' now not possible under current legislation, it's a tricky situation for many landlords, and they are left asking the question, "Do I advertise with pets, or without?'

In many metropolitan cities, pets are increasingly blending into the way people live their lives, from being in attendance at brunch on the weekends, to dog parks popping up on every corner... perhaps the traditional view of 'no pets' is quickly becoming outdated.

So the question we're asking around our office is how limiting will the 'no pets' condition be in the future? Will the property applicant pool halve if this trend continues? Or even quarter? 

For those investors who may consider broadening their view on pets (after reading an article on wine tours for pets, I'm now one of them) we can be comfortable with the knowledge that there are options available to us. Many landlord insurance providers do cover pet damage, but as always, check the fine print. This offering provides investors with a level of comfort should damage be caused by animals during a tenancy. 

Another common phrase Toop&Toop use when advertising a property is 'pets negotiable'. This ensures that we can appeal to both groups, ensuring our investors are capturing all interested parties before deciding which way to proceed.

Of course, every property is different and some have more limitations than others. Some properties simply might not be appropriately set up for pets now, or in the future, while others might be restricted by their body corporate preventing occupants from having pets. 

However, we do suggest putting this firmly on your radar next time your lease agreement comes up for renewal, and discussing it with your property manager. The pet trend is growing at a rapid rate, and we feel it is important to be aware of this changing consumer behaviour, especially if it means keeping a wide pool of applicants interested in your property.

For more information, or to chat anything investment, give our team a call today!

*January 2016, Australian pet ownership statistics

Suzannah Toop