Sam Vickerson purchased an interstate investment property, and only wanted a property manager to take care of the basics – but things soon got out of hand.
Sam lives in Queensland but in 2013, he bought a property in Nowra on the New South Wales south coast. He says that a friend recommended getting in touch with a property manager so that he could learn more about the expectations of tenants in the area.
“The guy that answered the phone was like a talk show host,” Sam says.
“In hindsight, it’s clear that it was his job to answer my questions affirmatively and get my credit card details.”
The company that Sam spoke to charged $30 less than others in the area but still promised services like garden maintenance, comprehensive screening processes and quarterly house inspections.
“The only thing this guy couldn’t do was let me speak with my assigned property manager,” he says.
After signing up, the property manager was non-communicative about information concerning the property. Sam explains that because he lives in another state, he only wanted to be informed about basic matters like property viewings, tenant screenings and problems with the property.
“I feel that I wasn’t asking for anything more than the basics,” he says. “I work full time so the property manager was supposed to provide me with peace of mind.”
After growing suspicious about the manager’s lack of correspondence, Sam asked a friend from Nowra to inspect the property. The pictures Sam’s friend sent back to him were shocking.
“The state of the garden was horrendous,” Sam says.
According to Sam, the grass had grown so long that tenants were prevented from opening the back door of the property.
“It detracted from the property because Nowra is a very scenic area.”
A combination of the property’s neglect and the manager’s lack of communication forced Sam to find a new manager. This time, he took the time to research his options online.
“I focused on investor forums where people had left comments about their experiences with property manager companies,” he says.
“These sites are useful because they are not directly linked with the companies themselves.”
After narrowing down his search, Sam sent a handful of companies an email which contained details about his investment and questions about their services.
“I asked them whether they would agree to sign a written contract that would guarantee their services,” Sam says.
“While most didn’t respond, one property manager contacted me directly.”
Sam explains that the property manager was honest about the duties they could carry out and presented him with strategies for increasing the property’s rental yield.
“I now receive regular communication and feel much more at ease with my investment,” he says.
“I would advise investors to do their own research and have a written contract with the manager in place.”
4-bedroom house, 2-bedroom granny flat
Purchase price: $430.000
Current value: $490,000