Thursday, May 26, 2016

Falling rents hit the media... how can investors buck the trend?

Rents fall across the country, according to CoreLogic RP Data's latest rental report for April 2016. Reading a headline such as 'Largest annual fall in advertised weekly rents' can be confronting for many investors. This particular report goes on to identify the five suburbs in each state that recorded the biggest reduction in rents over the past 12 months.

In South Australia, according to the report, the biggest fall in housing rents were recorded in Gilberton (-30.1%), Malvern (-28.5%), Glen Osmond (-18.2%), Burnside (-14.5%) and Glenelg South (-13.6%). Looking at these sought after suburbs, the figures came as a surprise. Our Leasing Team is seeing quite a different picture across our investment portfolio, and 
as a result, this article has sparked some in-depth conversations about the market and its performance.

What is our team seeing? From chatting with our senior Leasing Specialists in these areas, they are finding the rental market, particularly in the east and Glenelg have been 'consistently strong'. These suburbs offer a great lifestyle with access to excellent schools, restaurants, appealing shopping districts... the list goes on.

Looking further at our own results, over the past 12 months 100% of our properties in these suburbs have achieved the advertised rental price, with 78.6% of these properties achieving the same or improved rental amounts. Our vacancy rate has also been consistently lower than what we have seen in years - currently Toop&Toop's vacancy rate is at 0.64% compared to the industry average of 1.9%.

So what is the explanation? What is the 'X factor' that enables a property to buck the trend? From what we are seeing, it comes down to presentation and marketing.

When a property in sales or rentals is presented and marketed well, it not only has a positive and noticeable impact on enquiry levels, but also to the end price that is achieved. We have seen 70% of new properties to our investment portfolio elect professional photography and 67% opt for a signboard. It is clear there is an increasing number of landlords taking up the opportunity to utilise our national award-winning in-house Advertising Studio. Investors are now experiencing the same benefits that a well-thought-out marketing strategy offers those selling their home.

If you're like me and read the property market reports religiously, remember that despite the media headlines such as this week, optimal results can be achieved through a strategy tailored to your property. Hearing first hand from your managing agent about their available marketing options, quizzing them on the current market conditions and having a competent and professional team look after your properties goes a long way to optimise your rents, and can help you buck the trend!

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, May 19, 2016

“You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.” - Zig Ziglar

This week has been a unique week for Team Toop; one that has enabled us to witness our strength as a team and see just how important teamwork is within a real estate business. This first week of our 31st year in business has illustrated just how much more is achieved when you have a true team culture.

On Monday Toop&Toop took its 2015 Annual Award winners on a four-day conference in Bali. With many husband and wife teams in the mix, a total of 24 Team Toop staff boarded a plane to our 2016 Toop&Toop Award winner's conference.

It is not every day that you have many of your key team members leave the country at the exact same time. Traditionally, a business would plan to stagger staff leave, so for us to organise this deliberately, on the surface, may seem quite crazy.

However, our team conference gives us the chance to bring some of our best minds in all areas of real estate together to workshop some important aims... What are we doing now that is great? How can we become even better at what we do? What ideas and innovations can we provide our team, and bring to our industry, so we can continue to provide an unmatchable service and experience to our clients?

Amongst the group, were our top performers in Sales, Property Investment, Marketing, IT, Administration and Customer Service - we had every area of the business represented. The topics discussed and the ideas generated were phenomenal, with the outcomes being immediately implemented.

Teamwork is a word that can be easy to throw around, yet can be very rare to see in action. It can be hard to single out a performing team because they are seamless, but in my opinion true teamwork always appears to stem from the deepest part of a business culture.

This year marks our 31st year in business. Anthony and Sylvia have been one of the strongest teams for over 36 years - husband and wife. Together they created and grew Toop&Toop on what I consider to be the strongest example of teamwork I have ever seen, and this week we were able to see Toop&Toop's DNA of teamwork in action.

The power of teamwork in real estate is vital and cannot be overlooked, as it ultimately impacts our customers' experience. In an industry that appears to be built on the success of individuals, if a strong team structure does not support it, the client ultimately loses out. With 24 of us 'on location' including Anthony, Sylvia, Suzannah and myself, the true testament of the strength of our teamwork was the seamless performance by our team back at home.

This week Team Toop was able to achieve more than we ever thought possible. At our conference, we collaborated our knowledge and experience to tackle industry-wide challenges, creating strategies and implementation plans to increase customers' experience with real estate.

Back home, our team has continued to focus on pooling information and communicating to Adelaide's active buyers (currently sitting at 5,701) on the latest listings, opens and auction times. Toop&Toop provide instant feedback to our vendors immediately after inspections with details of who came through their property and their thoughts - even down to the detail of how many times they have been to the home.

Collaborating our entire teams' knowledge and intel to provide our clients with this type of information, plus much more, can only be unlocked when you have a true team culture.

So to the entire Team Toop, congratulations guys on a very productive and exciting week! And to our future clients, we can't wait to demonstrate what our team has come up with at our 2016 Toop&Toop Award winner's conference!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

New laws on domestic violence and your rental property

New domestic violence legislation was passed in December 2015. Tenants are now able to leave violent relationships without facing financial penalties previously incurred under a break lease situation under the Residential Tenancies Act (1995) (The Act).

This week Toop&Toop attended our first Domestic Violence hearing at the South Australian Civil Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) on behalf of our landlord. This was the first hearing our team had attended since the new clause, section 89A, was inserted into the Act. We saw first hand how these changes are helping remove some of the barriers men, women and families may face when trying to access a safe living environment.

According to a police spokesman, on average more than 480 domestic violence matters in South Australia are reported to police each week. Where these men, women or families are living is integral to their safety, and if they are tenants, they previously faced financial obligations stemming from a break lease situation. This included paying a portion of the re-letting costs and re-advertising costs, as well as being responsible for rental payments until a new tenant was found. This only created further adversity for those attempting to leave an abusive relationship.

Now under The Act, tenants who are in an abusive relationship, and can provide evidence to this effect, now have options available to them. They are able to apply to stay at their rented property and have the perpetrator leave, elect to leave the home and be removed from the rental agreement, or terminate the lease altogether.

This is a situation that we hope we will rarely face, but when we do, we need to do our part as the managing agent. It is key that we fully understand the legislation and the process that’s involved so we can best support our tenants and also ensure we are taking steps to protect our clients’ investments.

One critical step for investors is determining whether an order for Domestic Violence is covered under the traditional break lease, or hardship clause in your landlord insurance policy. We’ve made enquiries with one of the leading landlord insurance providers, Terri Sheer. They have confirmed that if you have an order from the Tribunal for an early release of the tenancy agreement, you will be covered under the ‘hardship’ definition of their policy (with cover for up to four weeks loss of rent).

We do recommend that you make your own investigations, as whilst we expect the leading providers to have taken a similar approach to Terri Sheer, some insurers may not be aware of the new clause under the Act.

Evolution in residential tenancy legislation is happening right across the country, and South Australia is leading the way with some of the strongest protections for victims of domestic violence who are renting their homes.

This is a progressive step forward and we are here to keep property investors informed.

Suzannah Toop

Thursday, May 05, 2016

3D printing turning your dream home into reality ... and it’s closer than you may think!

It is crazy to think that one day we could design and print our very own home, literally dreaming up what we would like our next home to look like and then making it a reality all by ourselves through technology. While this may seem like something that only happens in science fiction, in reality this technology is not that far away! 

A video has gone viral on social media about a company in China who have printed five full size bungalow homes in 3D in a single day! Each cost less than $5,000 to construct and made from environmentally friendly material! This type of capability which is already possible and being tested right now, makes you quickly realise how much of a game changer this will be in 
the real estate market. 

With construction costs becoming so low, the emphasis on land location and the value placed on this component would rise significantly. If property takes less than a day to build and is inexpensive we could even see people updating and 'printing' a new home every few years. Essentially they would be updating their home design with their changing lifestyle needs rather than opting to move home. 

This type of technology unlocks a whole new world in real estate and what's exciting is that it's already possible!

While most of the pieces are already in place for 3D house printing, this is not something that we expect to be common for a while yet. There are still some hurdles to overcome with the technology before we see 3D printed homes popping up around our streets. Even though there are printers that are large enough and capable of printing full size homes (using concrete and cement formulas) there is still significant costs on the procedural and material technology. 

This area is moving at very fast speeds. Cement companies are racing to be the first to find the winning formula to take printing property from experimental to a mainstream reality. A Thai cement maker has developed a new cement that allows it to dry quickly and bind quick enough that it can be printed with dramatic curves and twists, and it can remain freestanding while drying without the need for support material ... unlocking the potential for property designs in all different shapes ... meaning your dream home is no longer 'confined to four walls'.

These types of innovation breakthroughs are happening frequently and it's exciting to see! 3D technology is going to play a significant part in the future of real estate and open up so many opportunities for home owners!At Toop&Toop, innovation has always been a passion of ours since day one. We are passionate about how we can use innovative tools to provide our clients with an unmatchable experience. This Sunday on Mother's Day, Team Toop will be celebrating 31 years in business! We absolutely love what we do and are so excited for our business's future ... in 31 years time imagine what the property market will look like!