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How to secure the best tenants for your investment property

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Landlords need an “edge” in today’s rental market if they’re to secure the best tenants for their investment property and attract higher rents.

That market cut-through is increasingly being driven by technology, backed up by customer service.

Modern databases and communications technology are changing the way that tenants, property managers and landlords interact with one another – and property owners who aren’t in the new high-tech landscape risk falling by the wayside.

Nelson Alexander’s 17-office network has invested heavily in technology to streamline the way that properties are brought to the attention of potential tenants as well as how tenants are vetted and assisted.

The use of online technology is paying handy dividends to the owners of the 15,000 properties managed by Nelson Alexander as well as to the more than 36,000 active tenants the company deals with at any one time.

The rental histories and preferences of thousands of other people, who have previously rented properties through the agency network, are also on Nelson Alexander’s database.

All this information is a veritable gold mine for any landlord looking to generate competition and rent out a property to a well-qualified tenant. And for tenants, better data and communications services means they’re likely to experience fewer hassles when on the hunt for a house or unit.

The head of Nelson Alexander’s inner-city property management division, Grant Gifford, says the company’s vacancy rate for its managed rental properties is currently at 1 per cent.

This is well down on the industry norms for metropolitan Melbourne.

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, the proportion of vacant properties in metro Melbourne remained at 2.1 per cent in February, while regional Victoria also remained at 1.9 per cent in February.

The weekly median rent for houses in metropolitan Melbourne remained at $450 a week.

Mr Gifford says Nelson Alexander has often recorded vacancy rates of less than 1 per cent in summer, and its vacancy rates have consistently been below industry averages.

Because Nelson Alexander is a wholly-owned real estate company, not a franchise, it operates as a single team.

No landlord wants to leave their investment property vacant for a protracted length of time or face dealing with a less-than-ideal tenant. These days, the only real way to avoid exposure to these costly problems is to partner with a technology-savvy property manager.

Because Nelson Alexander is a wholly-owned real estate company, not a franchise, it operates as a single team. This means its offices refer tenants to properties in other areas. It’s quite common for a would-be tenant to contact the Fitzroy office, for example, and then end up renting a property in Northcote or Carlton North.

Mr Gifford says landlords benefit from having broad access to people who have previously leased from Nelson Alexander as well as to new tenants who have registered their details and preferences online.

“Our database gives us access to peoples’ complete history concerning any properties they have previously leased from us,” he says. “Or they may have sold a property through Nelson Alexander and plan to rent for a period. There is an abundance of tenants who would like to stay within our network.”

Property managers also access the National Tenancy Database, used nationwide in the real estate industry, to check on tenancy histories. This database allows for credit checks to be conducted as well.

“We thoroughly check applicants’ rental history and employment – not only their current employment but potentially their previous employment as well,” Mr Gifford says. “The same goes for rental history.”

Nelson Alexander encourages its tenants to use SMSs and emails to raise small maintenance issues with properties so that they can be addressed before they become bigger issues.

The depth of tenants available through the company’s systems particularly assists landlords to get runs on the board when letting out higher-priced homes.

Mr Gifford recently held an open for inspection for a house in Fitzroy with a rent of $1295 a week.

“I had three groups of people through, which is a strong response to a $1295 a week property and ahead of industry norms for higher-priced rental properties. But because of our database and the large number of prospective tenants who register with us, we are able to send emails out to people who are not even looking for a new home. If we already have their details and preferences, they don’t need to register on our website. We will advise them of new rental listings; they don’t need look on realestate.com.au or hop onto our website every few days to see what’s been listed.”

There are other advantages, too. In cases where a tenant has pre-registered to attend an open for inspection and the property in question has been leased early, that tenant will be automatically contacted by email or SMS and advised of the inspection cancellation.

It all adds up to satisfaction for both camps and smoother relations between landlords and tenants.

For further information about any issue concerning your investment property, property management or real estate sales, please contact your nearest Nelson Alexander office.

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