It can be easy to lose momentum when you’re distracted by the antics of the silly season, but if you take your eye off the game for too long, you could see the impact of this well into the New Year.
It’s tips like this from Jenni Wood at Professionals WA, together with other insights that will help you get the rundown on some of the best ways to manage your business over the holidays.
We’ve reached out to find out some top tips with some of the best prepared Agents to tackle the Christmas / New Year period.
Tricia Gilbert, Principal / Business Manager, Ray White Leading Edge
“It’s imperative to rev up rather than slow down,” Tricia said. “Make time to interact with your community and ensure you are helping your local families have a great Christmas. It’s also a great time to be calling your owners to touch base and see how they are going, update them on the current market trends, ensuring them of your best attention in this challenging marketplace. This and your community footprint help you to generate leads, maintain your current clients, increase your rent roll growth and keep vacancies to a minimum.”
Heidi Sparks, Senior Property Manager, Nicholas Lynch Rentals
“We have previously closed the rental department from Christmas to around 2nd January however have found that it can slow things right down even after opening the office back up,” Heidi said.
“This year, we have decided to remain open (apart from the public holidays) which means we will be able to continue to show properties and launch new properties during the busy period. This change has allowed us to secure more new listings prior to Christmas as our clients know we will be available to show their property to prospective tenants.”
Heidi said the lead-up to Christmas can also be very busy but their office has tried to ensure they do mid-week opens, Saturday opens and private appointments to lease out as much of their current stock as possible. “Even if clients are unable to commence until the new year it is best to sign them up as then all parties have piece of mind knowing they have a home ready to move into in the new year and landlords know they have a tenant ready to start,” she said.
“Of course, everyone deserves a holiday during the Christmas/New Year period especially when our day to day running of a portfolio can be so hectic so we have ensured there is a roster system for this time of year and whoever covered it last year gets a break this year.”
Lirie Ajredini, Senior Property Manager, Meallin Real Estate
“Leading up to, and throughout the holiday season, keep being active with your advertising, scheduling open houses and responding to enquiries from prospective tenants and also from prospective landlords, in a prompt and timely manner,” Lirie said.
“Check your comparables and review rents to ensure you are in line or even slightly below current market rents to avoid lengthy vacancies and loss of rental income.”
Madeleine Smith, Business Development Manager, LJ Hooker Gosford
“We stop doing so many open homes this time of year and show all our properties by appointment which allows us to pre-qualify tenants better and reduce the running around,” Madeleine said.
“Depending on availability of properties, they are launched on our office website only, with the listing being held back from the major websites until the New Year, to maximise marketing for our clients.”
John Gilmovich, Managing Director, Real Property Manager
“The holiday season office closure preparations should always begin at least 1 month before and not left to the last minute or day,” John said. “Automated messaging and or communication is a crucial key to responding to customer enquiries whilst you are on a break.
“There many email including SMS auto responses that can be set up in advance that can lead your prospect’s enquiry to your website for either a written or video FAQ response that can engage your prospects or customers whilst your on a break. Early preparation is key.”
Jenni Wood, Training and Development Manager, Professionals WA
“December – January has traditionally always been a busy time of year for Property Managers as it usually sees higher activity with new tenancies,” Jenni said. “People relocate before the new school year, job transfers are more prevelant, and the warm weather draws people out of the woodwork as they re-evaluate their lifestyle, and more importantly where they are living.”
“We are all entitled to take a well earned break, so set up your leasing strategy before you take that much deserved break:
1) Set up a schedule of home opens for the stock you have becoming vacant, capturing the activity that will be around while prospective tenants have more time to view their next home;
2) Ensure you’ve updated your e-marketing campaigns so they continue even when you are not at work. Make sure you are maintaining a presence with your prospective owners, even when you are not present;
3) Negotiate vacate dates with exiting tenants so that your owners aren’t left with a vacancy over the festive season that is possibly not ready to launch back on to the market;
4) Plan your 2018 prospecting activity before you break so that you are not wasting time when you return from leave;
5) Communicate with your tenants NOW that they need to prioritise payment of their rent over this time – all too often we’ve seen tenants place a higher priority in purchasing big ticket items rather than paying their rent. Owners celebrate Christmas too, so it’s important they are not left financially hamstrung by a non-performing tenant. A friendly SMS reminder to your tenants, coupled with your usual communication technique is very helpful heading into Christmas.”
Caroline Nurse, Director, Rent Choice
“Work with a company who has an active team over the festive season,” Caroline said. “Make sure your property manager has the ability to do home opens, process applications and lease properties. If your property is vacant, make sure that the marketing is providing the best exposure.” Caroline said this includes promoting properties to a feature listing, using professional photos and pricing competitively.
“If you want to continue rent roll growth, then make sure you are available or have put structures in place so that calls are answered and new enquiries are responded to daily,” she said.
Michael Murray, Managing Director, Murray Property
“All investors need to be aware of seasonal changes that can affect the return on their rental property,” Michael said. “We encourage our clients to avoid leases expiring in December and January as both these months are traditionally when the market slows down for the holiday season.”
“If a property was to become available for rent in December or January, our clients may experience a lower rent and/or higher vacancy.”
Michelle Kathopoulis, Business Manager, Absolute Real Estate NT
“I don’t know if it is the same for you all but I find November / December can be a very busy time for new managements,” Michelle said. “It is the only time of year that people plan in advance. Families move, jobs change, new positions are offered – this time of year provides a lot of opportunities.”
Michelle said leads for new business for the end of the year and the beginning of the new year seem to be rife – seize it! “Be easily available during this lead up: to talk, to follow up, to meet and complete appraisals. At a time where everyone else seems to slow down property management ramps right up!
Reducing vacancies through the festive time requires a little bit more proactivity from November. As things slow down (somewhere, somehow they will right?!) it is a great opportunity to provide heightened effort: more communicative follow up, ensuring properties are clean and ingoing reports done so they can be leased quickly (and while you are understaffed), smoke alarm compliances done.”
Natasha Connors, Business Development Manager, LJ Hooker Yarrabilba
“My tips to avoid the festive slow down are to continue prospecting (it all pays off in the months to come), touch base with any past leads and recap on the rental market over the past 12 months and your prediction for the year to come,” Natasha said.
“Connect with your converted clients to wish them a Merry Christmas and to offer your services to their friends/family if they are in the property market next year.”
Leah Calnan, Director, Metro Property Management
“Our world does not end on the 25th December,” Leah said. “The maintenance that has been outstanding for the last month now does not have to be completed, those proposed improvements do not have to be completed by Christmas and it’s OK that an agency closes for a few days to have a break.”