The words ‘property management’ — like ‘insurance policy’ or ‘financial planning’ — don’t tend to spark excitement in our everyday language. Largely viewed as a necessary evil for landlords and renters alike, Frasers Property Australia’s Richard Kemp says the key to successful property management is to understand it’s less about property and more about relationships.
If you’re an investor, renter, or interested bystander, it’s no secret that the property market has been on a wild ride in the last two years. The onset of COVID-19 created enough uncertainty for the market to stall and catch its breath for a minute. Then take off again in a truly astonishing trajectory that defied all predictions.
For investors and renters, the game changed in unexpected ways. With the flight of international students and expats back to their home countries, rents in the capital cities declined. Conversely, rents in the regions grew off the back of a migration of folks out of the cities and into smaller towns during a time when commuting for work became redundant.
For those left managing the relationship between landlords and renters, the bumpy conditions separated the wheat from the chaff.
Richard Kemp has been at the helm of Frasers Property Australia Property Management division since its inception in 2012. He says, despite the ups and downs in the property market, the last two years have been unprecedented growth years for the company’s property management business. Key to that has been an end-to-end service relationship with a single brand focused on life-long value, rather than the short-term transactional nature of most property management functions.
“When we opened our doors nine years ago, it was largely a response to growth in our investor business,” explains Richard. “Frasers has always had a healthy customer base of investors, including those that were themselves residents of our communities and trusted the Frasers brand. A lot were looking for an end-to-end service that just took the hassle out of managing their investment properties.”
And for Omar Marial, an investor at Frasers Property’s Ed.Square, his experience has been exactly that. “Frasers essentially look after everything from top to bottom for me. It’s very straightforward in that I’m covered in every aspect – the only thing I need to worry about is making sure my payments are on time. It’s very easy for anyone to start their property investment journey with Frasers in that respect.”
Specialised knowledge and care
While building up a modest property portfolio is the dream of many Australians, the excitement and potential of investing can quickly be dampened with the amount of work that has to go into finding a trusted property manager. One that will work hard to ensure landlords have the right tenants, rents are properly optimised, and that their properties are being cared for as if they were their own.
“This is where we thrive,” says Richard. “Because many of the properties we represent have been our own at some stage, we know the ins and outs better than anyone. It also means we can sell the benefits of living in these Frasers Property communities in a way that most others can’t, because we have levels of detail about design, delivery, amenity, and future plans that comes from being part of this larger residential property business.”
“I know I’m in good hands,” Omar adds, “the service is under Frasers’ name, so the company carries on that reputation as well. The team’s in-depth knowledge of the community ensures that the right person is placed as a tenant and Lina, my property manager, has been so helpful throughout the whole process.”
For Richard, property management success is about customer care and nurturing strong relationships. “To us, the property management service is more about taking care of customers and less about any profit involved. The last thing you want to do when you sell someone a property is say ‘alright you’re on your own now’, so this service is a natural extension of what we already do. And we don’t mind if they go somewhere else. So long as they know they have the option with Frasers Property,” says Richard.
Richard and his property management team weren’t phased by the pandemic, because of the enduring appeal of Frasers Property communities. “The marketplace changed dramatically when COVID hit and we saw investors disappear for a bit. Yet we still managed to grow,” he says. “Ed.Square in Sydney’s south-west is one of those success stories that defied the market trend. With one of their buildings finishing right at the height of the second wave, we picked up 100 apartments under management, with over 250 registrations of interest from renters, and around 60 being leased in the first month they were available.”
One of the reasons for this strong result is the changing calculus of inner-city living to outer suburban lifestyle. As people have commuted less for work, the attractions of more space and more amenity for the dollar have moved the needle for renters and investors alike.
“Although rents across the board have dropped because of COVID-19, we’ve remained positive both financially and in spirit, and we’ve actually been able to grow during that same period,” explains Richard. “It comes down to the calibre of Frasers developments. We’re lucky we’ve got a strong pipeline of properties coming through, and new communities that people are very keen to live in and work from.”
Peace-of-mind through our end-to-end service
Despite the impacts of the last two years on the rental market, a bounceback is already on the wind. National rents are 6.6% higher than a year ago, the highest annual growth rate recorded in 12 years, according to CoreLogic’s June 2021 Rental Review.
So, where to next? With the property market showing a healthy resurgence in most capital cities, and a renewed interest in high-quality masterplanned communities, Richard and the team plan to go from strength-to-strength, offering fully integrated re-sale options to those looking to move onward and upward. The end goal being, those who buy with Frasers Property will have the full in-house experience, from buying to building to renting to selling.
“It’s all about long-term relationships built on trust,” says Richard. “We’re in it with our customers for the long haul.”