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Introducing Tenant Acquisition

Introducing the NEW Tenant Acquisition Features in OurProperty

 

Designed to simplify the tenant acquisition process – less vacancy time, more leasing fees and more new managements.

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It’s been a long time in the making, but definitely worth the wait! The Tenant Acquisition component is your solution to marketing, viewings, and applications. It’s the final component of our software, making OurProperty the only complete, all-in-one solution for property management. 

No more costly apps plugged into old inefficient platforms that can’t deliver what you need.

The challenging environment we’ve faced over recent months has really shone a spotlight on remote-working technologies, including cloud-based storage, remote inspections, virtual viewings, becoming paperless, going cashless, and creating virtual listings, just to name a few.

All of these features are already built into OurProperty, and property managers who are using the platform saw hardly any disruption in efficiency and productivity over the past few months.

Now, with the Tenant Acquisition features launching, OurProperty is your complete software solution for automating and streamlining your property management business.

What does it do?

The Tenant Acquisition component combines three key property management tasks in one easy-to-use process.

Marketing

Create multi-campaign marketing strategies with three separate advertisements on constant rotation to optimise your advertising dollar. You can enter separate headings, feature lists, and photos, to market the property at different audiences.

Plus, the rent term, bond amounts, and conditions are all entered in one place, which feeds into the new lease creation, saving you lots of time from not double-entering data.

Viewings

Manage property viewings and appointments, with notifications and replies sent to potential tenants every step of the way. The system also creates detailed landlord reports for owners, to keep them updated on their property.

Applications

Tenants are able to upload their applications online, including supporting documents, rental references, income information and more. Rental and employment references are automatically sent with the response recorded in the application vetting list. Shortlisted applicants can be sent to the landlord for approval, and new leases are automatically created.

A far superior process to the current standard and your valuable tenant data is not being captured by a third party web platform.

How does it work?

The Tenant Acquisition component is just one part of the complete OurProperty solution, designed to replace a majority of your existing subscriptions and software. 

Having one platform for everything means that every component talks to and complements the other components.

The Marketing, Viewings and Application features all link into the Leasing component, which then links into the Maintenance, Arrears, Compliance, Payments, and other components to look after the entire management.


The Tenant Acquisition Journey

The Tenant Acquisition component manages the initial part of the leasing journey:

  1. Upload photos, rent term, bond and conditions all in one place
  2. Create multiple rotating campaigns to maximise your advertising dollar
  3. Campaigns, application links and viewing details are uploaded to online portals
  4. Potential tenants register for and view available properties
  5. Manage property viewing availability
  6. Tenants apply online or via their phone
  7. Tenants upload their 100 points of ID and reference details
  8. View all applications and complete the vetting process in OurProperty
  9. Tenant employment and rental references are automatically sent
  10. Recommendations are automatically packaged up and sent to the landlord
  11. Applicants are notified and updated on the progress of their applications
  12. Non-approved tenants can be sent other suggested properties
  13. Landlord selects an approved / preferred applicant
  14. New tenant profile is automatically created in OurProperty
  15. New lease, welcome letter and payment link (if your office is using OurProperty Payments) is automatically generated

How does OurProperty help agencies?

The benefits of OurProperty in property management businesses are astounding. Here’s a case study from one of our many large clients in Queensland.

With the Tenant Acquisition component, the benefits continue:

  • Saves a considerable amount of time double-handling and entering data
  • Allows your office to go paperless
  • Less vacancy period for landlords and owners
  • Increases your bottom line
  • Encourages property managers to keep applicants updated on progress
  • Less time chasing missing information
  • Automatic generation of emails to employees and references

Contact us today to book a free, personalised demo for your business and let us show you how OurProperty can transform your business.

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OurProperty Payments – Legislation and Compliance

Got legislative questions about the new payment platform? We understand – we’re shaking things up so there’s bound to be a few raised hands. Read on to hear what the OP management team has to say about our revolutionary platform.

What is OurProperty Payments?

OurProperty Payments is a sub-company of OurProperty and is a fully licenced corporate agency designed to replace the need for your agency to maintain a trust account.

The way OurProperty Payments works is that we have a real estate corporate agency licence per state, with a state-specific trust account that’s fully regulated and audited.

It is then OurProperty’s responsibility to manage and audit these state-specific trust accounts.

The OurProperty Difference

Other rent collection platforms in the real estate world are unregulated, and the legality of their processes are in doubt, certainly the protections afforded from a regulated account are not in place.

OurProperty, on the other hand, is a fully regulated trust account, compliant with all trust-related regulations in individual states across Australia.

One account per state, and a completely automated gateway with real-time tracing of all funds, means the audit process is simple, faster and more accurate than the old way of collecting rent.

There is less consumer risk compared to an office-based trust, and all funds are digitally traced from initial payment to disbursement.

How does it work?

OurProperty has a state-based payments company and separate trust account per state in Australia. We facilitate the functions of collecting and disbursing rental payments, so your agency no longer has to – you manage the process without ever having to hold the funds. Maximum control, minimum risk.

Your agency will still determine when and how funds are collected, and who and when they are disbursed to. The critical difference is that your agency no longer needs to take possession of the funds.

This means the OurProperty Payments settlement account becomes the account that falls under the regulations for the purpose of audit, and OurProperty has the responsibility for the management of that account in each state.

What about your old trust account?

Your agency can still choose to maintain a trust account, or use your sales trust, for the odd ad hoc payment.

Keep in mind, if you leave your rental trust account open, you will still need to audit it in the usual way, even if there are no transactions in a given period. The flip side – your audit costs reduce significantly as there is far less work required to audit an account with minimal transactions.

QLD Legislation

In Queensland we have a Qld Corporate Agency license (for the collection of rents) and we have a strictly regulated trust account with Westpac to facilitate collections, settlements and disbursements.

Bonds are lodged directly through the Bond Authority as per usual.

We are looking to work with the bond authority to make bond lodgements and disbursements simpler through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (API’s).

NSW Legislation

In New South Wales we currently have an application before the NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for the grant of a license for the collections of rents.

Once approved, we will open our NSW trust account and begin onboarding our NSW offices. We anticipate this will commence by the end of March 2020.

We are also working with the OFT to establish a bonds management process similar to QLD.

VIC Legislation

In Victoria we have an application pending with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CaV) for the grant of a license for the collection of rents.

Once approved, we will open our VIC trust account and begin onboarding our VIC offices. We anticipate this will commence by the end of March, 2020.

We are also working with the CaV in regards to a bond process similar to QLD.

There are significant regulatory changes coming into play in Victoria on July 1st, 2020, and we already have a legal opinion that we are fully compliant with the new legislation (as advised by Jemmison Fisher).

We are also currently making enhancements to the rest of the OurProperty software to accommodate for a smooth transition of these new changes.

SA and WA Legislation

In South Australia and Western Australia we have similar applications pending for the grant of a licence to collect rental funds. Once this licence is granted we will be able to onboard SA and WA agencies.

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OurProperty December 2019 Update

Welcome to our final update for 2019 – what a year it’s been!

We’d like to start by saying a big thank you for your support this year. OurProperty is relatively new in its current form, and all of you are certainly early-adopters and amongst the most progressive real estate businesses in Australia.

There are many advantages to being early-adopters. You’ve obtained new technology before your competitors, and you’ve worked in partnership with us to shape many of the platform’s components. There are a few disadvantages too, as the new features sometimes need a few tweaks after they’re released. As foundation customers, you have experienced some of these issues during our growth.

So we’d like to thank you for your patience!

Next year the payment platform will become available from February for those wanting to come on board during the first round. LJ Hooker Sunnybank Hills has already moved its 1,700 properties to the game-changing payment platform and margins are set to hit 54% soon. A very exciting time for everyone involved.

Even though the month isn’t over yet, here are some updates we’ve made so far;

Entry Notice Previews

Many of you have requested the ability to view preview entry notices before they are sent.  This is a reminder that you can now do this through the inspections component of the platform

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Excluding Properties from Routine Inspections

There is now a ‘Do Not Inspect’ option.  This will allow you to exclude specific properties from ever being included in the routine inspections schedule

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Duplicate Entry Inspections

For everyone who deals with new developments we have created a Duplicate Property feature in inspections. This will allow you to conduct an entry inspection at a brand new development and then duplicate it across other properties of the same floor plan.

To duplicate an entry report:

  • Schedule an inspection for the target property.
  • Open the existing report that you want to duplicate.
  • Click the ‘Duplicate Property’ button at the top of the screen.
  • Enter the address you want to create the new report for in the pop-up box.
  • Click ‘Submit’.

You can view more screenshots and see more detailed instructions in our How to Create a Duplicate Inspection Report article.

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Menu Receives a Long-Awaited Face Lift

The platform now has a more consistent, streamline menu bar. Hover over the icons to expand the menu bar and notifications number.

Notifications are now minimised with a simple red dot next to the icon. Once the menu is expanded you can hover over the title to display the number of notifications you have for each section.

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You can also customise the colour of the menu in your profile settings to suit your agency, team or department. 

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You can customise the colour of the left menu (Background Colour), the colour of the header bar (Header Colour), and the background colour of any transparent logo respectively (Agency Logo BG Colour). Ideally, the menu bar should be a dark colour for the white icons to show properly. This is handy for variations on your branding, for example, you may use different colours for different offices or roles.

Sending Feedback SMSs to tenants after routine inspections

You can now configure the SMS that goes to a tenant after a routine inspection is complete.

Arrears Message Address Block

The address block in the top left-hand corner of arrears messages can now be optionally removed from the arrears emails.

Landlord Balance

The landlord’s balance is now displayed in the Landlord Portal, meaning they won’t need to call you to find out what money is coming in.

Knowing When Clients Last Visited the App

We now include the last visit date for tenants and landlords to the apps in the admin lists. You can now see who is using the app regularly and tailor your communications accordingly. If someone isn’t checking their app very often, you might want to encourage them to do so.

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We’d like to wish you all a wonderful and well-deserved break over the holiday season.

Our holiday support team will be working over the Christmas and New Year break, so if you require support simply head over to the blue chat bubble for help. Don’t forget, our Help Centre is also packed with how-to articles and troubleshooting guides. 

We look forward to working with you in 2020.

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OurProperty November 2019 Update

mprovements and New Functions to Give you an Even Better Experience

We’ve had some big improvements this month aimed at making your OurProperty experience even better. Read on to learn what Russell and the team have been working on and the impact these changes will have on your business;

Tenant App – users can now use their mobile number to login

This is a big one and the most exciting update this month! In the tenant app, the tenant can now use their mobile number as their username and their usual password to login. This makes it easier than ever for tenants to use the app. Up to a third of tenants don’t list an email address and use only mobile. Now we have a solution to manage them.

Inspection entry notices can now be sent from four roles

A specific sender can now be selected when sending inspection entry notices and associated messages. Sender options include Agency, Property Manager, Inspector or Scheduler. This gives more flexibility around different roles conducting inspections.

Tenant inspection feedback template is customisable

The feedback sent to the tenant after a routine inspection can now be customised before it’s sent. This enables your agency to put your preferred branding and tone into the communication. There is also a customised SMS.

More templates for rent review recommendations

There are now three configurable recommendation templates for No Lease (rent review) renewals. This means that your agency can make their recommendations to rent modifications as either standard, increase or no change.

Preview bond documents and leases

Now property managers can review the bond document as well as the lease for new leases and renewals.

PM Inspect: maintenance key collection for tradies can now be done from the app

Property managers can now check out keys required by tradies to complete their jobs through the PM Inspect app. This is super useful for offices without reception. It’s the same process that you use on your computer, now available in the app as well.

Reformat of MAAs to one column gives greater flexibility

The old MAAs were two columns in some sections. Now they are one column so they can be expanded for different agencies and states. This gives us more flexibility to deliver what’s required for each state and agency.

The Agency Health Report is even more useful

Office managers now have a complete picture of their agency’s health, with detailed graphs allowing them to monitor what’s going on in their PM department.

Tradie Compliance Report for compliance and insurance

The compliance report now includes tradie insurance, licences and GST/ABN. This is especially important for insurance and to see if tradies are registered for GST, as many tradies aren’t.

Additional inspection types that don’t impact routine inspections

There are now additional inspection types (such as warranty, pre-vacate and re-inspection) that do not affect the routine inspection reoccurrence. Other inspection types don’t have the same requirements as normal routines so they won’t be counted as one.

Dolly Parton – the 9 to 5 option for all day entry notices

For some states that allow an “all day” entry notice for routine inspections, we now have an option that is simply 9 to 5 rather than working on the available times.

Resend lease emails

Emails can now be resent from the email log in Leases > Email Log.

GeeDee integration

The integration with GeeDee is now complete. We are beta testing and will soon be ready to take on clients using this system.

Victoria Leases

For our Vic clients, the less formal Vic lease style has been incorporated.

Overdue Reminders now colour coded

Reminders are now colour coded to their status (ie. to be actioned, completed, overdue and rescheduled). They appear in the calendar in their respective colours and in the reminder lists under ‘Today’s things to do’. Stay tuned for stage three!

Tenant feedback SMS’s configured

Tenant feedback SMS’s are now configured following routine inspections.

Arrears messages – optional address block

The address block on arrears messages can now be optionally removed from arrears emails in your agency’s settings.

The bond form and registering claims

The bond form now can register a claim and process the required payments once the claim funds arrive.

Entry Notice Preview

In the inspection timetable, property managers can now preview the entry notices prior to sending them.

Leases

You can now stop and start leases on the same day.

Lease Attachments – REMINDER – Completely Paperless Lease Packs

This one was in our October newsletter, but it seems many clients are not using this very useful function yet. You can now attach documents to leases that will be sent to the tenant along with their lease document.

PDFs are preferred. Try not to attach too many, or any files that are too big, as this may cause issues when tenants receive them.

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How To Steps:

  • Open the lease settings in  House Icon > Lease > Settings
  • Click on the Lease details tab and scroll lease default extra attachments
  • Enter the File Title
  • Enter the File Details for easy reference later
  • Choose the action. This is what will tell the system when to include the specific document. You can chose more than one option by holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard whilst selecting your options.
  • Click Submit each time
  • Once all documents are loaded make sure you click Save at the top of the page


    That’s it for this month. There will be lots more in December.

    Our team loves hearing your feedback, so if you have any questions or suggestions for future updates, please get in touch with our Support or Customer Success team.

    The Our Property Team
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OurProperty October 2019 Update

There’s a lot happening in the world of OurProperty, so we’d like to give you an update of all the enhancements we’ve been making this month. Our CTO, Russell, and the team are working hard to provide an even better system, making significant weekly improvements.

As our valued client, we’ll be sending you these updates every month.  Should you have any questions or feedback on the updates, our support team will be happy to help.

Here are October’s improvements;

Reminders are Now Working in The Centre – Making Rescheduling and Follow-Up Easier

You don’t need to set reminders in an external calendar or any other legacy system. The Centre’s rich set of features will soon also get a boost from some great enhancement suggestions you have made.

See pics below;

Reminders screen Steps:

Click the Calendar icon at top right of page and enter details as required.

Landlord App is Ready and Working

The much sought-after Landlord App, OurLandlord, is ready! The app can be downloaded from the Apple and Google Play stores. This new landlord app allows landlords to access the portal on their phone without having to go through a browser. Landlords won’t have to log in every time they need to use the portal and notifications will now be pushed to their phone.

The download links for this app are below:

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ourlandlord/id1477304311https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jentla.ourlandlord

Inspection Charging Now Automated

Agencies now have automated charging for routine, entry, exit, landlord attended, video walkthrough, and landlord virtual inspections. Each type of inspection can trigger a fee associated with it, which your agency can determine.  This makes it impossible not to charge a landlord for an inspection anymore.  We find that many agents don’t remember to charge landlords, so this function has the potential to make a big difference to your bottom line.

Lease Attachments – Completely Paperless Lease Packs

You can now attach documents to leases that will be sent to the tenant with their lease offer or their completed lease document. PDFs are the preferred file. This will remove the need for printed lease packs, which will certainly save a few trees!

Note: When attaching files make sure they aren’t too big in size, and try not to attach too many at once – tenants don’t like having to download large files or lots of them.

How To Steps:

  • Open the Lease Settings by clicking on House > Lease > Settings
  • Click on the Lease Details tab and scroll to Lease Default Extra Attachments
  • Enter the File Title
  • Enter the File Details for easy reference later
  • Choose the Action

This will tell the system when to include the specific document. You can chose more than one option by holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard whilst selecting your options.

  • Click Submit each time
  • Once all documents are loaded make sure you click Save at the top of the page

Vacancy Reports have Additional Data and Accuracy

We have addressed all the issues with this report and have added more data and accuracy. There are now additional fields in the vacancy report and updated vacancy stats in the principal report with tool tips. 

How To Steps:

  • From the Dashboard click Reports > Vacancy Report

Future development will allow you to filter and have statistics within this report.

The Centre Links

Each component in The Centre now links to the appropriate module and page of OurProperty.  This means PMs can drill down and complete the tasks enumerated in the graphs.  For example, if it says you have 6 calls to make, you can click the link and see the prompts to each. This means that all the daily tasks can be seen on the dashboard.

Combined User Report – Creating a Single Contact

A report can be produced to show contacts who we have assumed are the same user combined into a single contact in OurProperty.  This will solve the issue of shared emails as property managers can determine if landlords are the same entity or not.

https://propertymanager.ourtradie.com.au/index.php?option=com_api&view=page&name=DuplicateSyncLandlords&Itemid=548

You still have the ability to split the contact as well.

Water Report Cutting Confusion around Payments

Users can now pull a report that shows all the available information on water payments and invoicing in an exportable format.  This can be used to send specific messages to landlords and/or tenants and cuts all the confusion around payment/efficiency etc.

https://propertymanager.ourtradie.com.au/index.php?option=com_jentlacontent&view=jentlalist&Itemid=601&limitstart=20

The automation of those messages remains.

For webinars on many topics, please go to https://help.ourproperty.com.au/webinars

Until next month!

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Technology – Changing the Way Real Estate Operates

There is no doubt that technology is changing the way that the real estate industry operates, but just where will it impact in 2019?

As an investor in technology enabled business that sit in and around the real estate industry, we see hundreds of technology businesses every year. Following are 3 trends that I think will emerge over the next 12 months. Not all of them are technology trends, but they have all been caused by the massive change that technology is having on the industry.

Trend 1: Remote Management of Rent Rolls

Declining commissions in property management, a tough sales market in many states, and increasing competition from low cost technology enabled start-ups means traditional real estate agencies are likely to do it tough in 2019. Principals will need to look for ways to operate more efficiently and to reduce costs. One trend we’ll see growing in 2019 is the complete outsourcing of the management of real estate agencies including property management.

It’s no secret that managing a large rent roll produces economies of scale that smaller operators can’t achieve. This is why we are starting to see consolidation of rent rolls and the white labelling of property management services.

Several such services are up and running including services like StaffLink and Universal Property Systems. Stafflink is a white label service which was founded by Image Property Management’s Joel Davis. Davis manages rent rolls for over 20 different real estate agencies around the country, by implementing the systems he uses at Image to operate the 4000 properties he has under management in Queensland.

“Over time we see ourselves freeing up the principal from managing their rent roll, which allows them to concentrate on running the sales business. The tenants and landlords get a far better service, and the business is more profitable, so everyone wins.” Says Davis

Utilising best of breed cloud-based software as well as having developed software tools to improve efficiencies internally has meant Stafflink can operate these rent rolls much more profitably than the principal who owns them. Services like Stafflink and Universal Property Systems would not have been possible 5 years ago without the development of cloud-based software with API integrations.

Trend 2: Elimination of Trust Accounts

One of the biggest risks that all businesses face is the temptation to keep doing things the way they have always been done. Nowhere is this truer than in the real estate industry. For decades real estate agencies have operated trust accounts, a labour-intensive costly process that has very few tangible benefits for the average real estate agency. The question is why does the industry do this? Part of the answer is because in some states like NSW it is a legislative requirement.

The technology has existed for many years that allows all the transfers of money to flow without the need to have a trust account. Although this technology hasn’t previously been applied to the real estate industry, this is starting to change. There are now several organisations working on this problem, with companies like “Managed App” and “Our Property” already with systems in the market that allow an agency to operate without a trust account.

Trend 3: The Technological Need To Change Legislation

With the introduction of so many new tech enabled businesses in the real estate industry, legislation is going to find it hard to keep up with changing business models. One tactic we are likely to see is new technology start-ups in the sector bend or break real estate related legislation so they can provide a better quality service at a cheaper price in order to gain market share.

A classic example of this outdated legislation is the need to for NSW agencies to operate a trust account.

One lesson the industry should learn from the Uber v Taxi wars of the last 10 years is that ultimately consumers will determine what’s legal and what’s not. As a result, forward thinking real estate principals will focus more on what’s best for the customer as opposed to what they are required to do under the letter of the law. Legislation that increases costs for consumers or slows down processes will be the first to go. This need to lobby government and amend legislation should also see industry support for Real Estate Institutes grow as the collective need to level the playing field between tech start-ups and the incumbent industry increases.

About the author: Chris Rolls is the Managing Director of PieLAB Venture Partners who manage Australia’s first real estate specific venture capital fund. The Real Estate Industry Venture Capital Fund 2016 (REIVC16) invests in businesses that provide products and services to the real estate industry.

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Fear of irrelevance: Agent v automation

It’s a conversation that now comes up over coffee and wine: with automation all around us, will there always be a need for a real estate agent, or will we become irrelevant?

I find myself pondering this question more and more as I look around and see technology becoming an ever-present feature in both real estate and modern life.

A lingering concern in the industry is that increased adoption of technology will result in job losses; however I’m realising that, ultimately, automation is about helping us to perform our roles and responsibilities better. Ensuring we remain relevant in an ever-evolving industry is about embracing change, not being afraid of it.

In the not too distant future, your clients will be able to view properties through a virtual reality headset from their couch or your office. The key is to ensure that when they visit the property, they are greeted by you, a real person, rather than a robot or hologram.

(Seriously, this is what they are predicting for the future of our industry!)

In order to adapt and remain relevant, we need to find ways to use automation to our advantage, such as using technology to streamline workflows. Employing virtual assistants to automatically send email replies or text follow-ups leaves you with more time to dedicate to strengthening client relationships. A simple “we’ll be in touch soon” provides instant gratification to your clients. It’s automation, but it’s personal. Let AI take care of the more pedestrian tasks such as entering data and it will free you up to deliver the best possible service to your clients.

Focus on developing and upskilling in areas where automation will never equal human interaction — for example, client communication, decision-making and relationship-building.

This will go a long way to ensuring you don’t become irrelevant in the changing industry environment.

Building relationships has become absolutely imperative. The old adage holds true: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. There aren’t a lot of cold opportunities out there anymore and I don’t think there should be. You should be known and you should be on everyone’s “shopping list” because of the property journeys you’ve been a part of and the relationships you’ve built. People will do business with people they trust. People feel safety and security when there is a positive review or referral. If we search online when choosing a restaurant, it makes sense that people want to read testimonials and hear referrals when it comes to selecting the agent to t rust with their biggest asset.

While the market adapts to new technological concepts, we have the opportunity to ensure the pendulum swings back to us as real people providing a service. We have the ability to listen and extract a brief from a buyer, to empathise and build rapport. AI and automated services can’t do that.

But if we fail in those aspects, we’re opening the door to extinction.

Written & first Published 14 March 2019 by Kate Strickland. Kate is a director of Marshall White Brighton. An accomplished real estate professional, she is positioned at the forefront of Marshall White’s training and leadership program. Kate played softball for Australia and represented Victoria in a number of sports. She holds degrees in communications and business.

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The End of Trust Accounts in Property Management

Everyone in the real estate industry groans at the thought of trust accounts. But they’re not just the bane of existence for the agency sector, they’re also a pain point for the public, state regulators, and government. So why are trust accounts so exasperating and is there a world that exists without them?

Trust Accounts in the Real Estate Industry

In Australia today, there are some 10,000 licensed agents who can open and manage a trust account dealing with clients’ funds. If an agency manages 1,000 rental properties, then they have potentially $2m passing through their rent trust account every… single… month.

That’s $2m of clients’ money, with multiple people having access to the account. On a national level there are possibly 30,000 individuals who have access to these trust funds if they choose.

Compliance Issues

On the compliance front, agencies are generally well behind the current legislation. The recent Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF) outlines obligations for those facilitating the transfer of money. In simple terms, the Act states that you must ‘know your customer’ and make sure they are who they say they are. Whilst the property management sector routinely does a 100-point check on every tenant, they rarely 100-point check the landlord to whom they are transferring funds, and that’s now illegal.

Another compliance issue lies with holding credit card details of your clients. Many offices hold card details of tenants and landlords within their trust account management software – but according to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), that’s also now illegal. If there is a fraud committed and you are found storing this data without PCI compliance, you can be fined over $100,000 per card you have stored. If your agency manages 1,000 properties… well, you can do the math on that one.

The History of Trust Accounts

The real estate trust account system and the regulations that go with it are the result of how the industry started back in the days of the Great Depression in the 1920’s. Back then, agents went door to door collecting money, which they then held in their office till it was collected by the landlords. You can imagine the issues that arose from this system.

The government eventually stepped in and formed regulations on how the money should be managed and instituted penalties for non-compliance as well as licencing requirements.

So, the Future?

Not only are Trust Accounts risky for the Agent, but they are also cumbersome and expensive to operate. You normally require a specialist Trust Manager and incur a raft of bank charges as well as audit fees. If one of your staff defrauds the account you will be required to make up the shortfall. The indemnity fund only kicks in (to reimburse the client) if the business fails and you can’t make good on the loss.

The simple solution? Remove the need for an agency to have a rent trust account. Trust accounts were designed to fix a problem in the 1920’s, so almost 100 years later, why are we applying the same logic? Technology has grown and the property industry is growing with it.

Trust accounts can be replaced by removing the need for an agency to hold customers’ funds. If we remove the agency step in the handling of the funds, we can remove the need for a trust account. So how do we do that? The answer is simple – we get the funds to go straight from the tenant to whoever the payment belongs to, whether that be the landlord, a bill, a creditor or a tradie.

How OurProperty Can Help

The new fully automated Payment Platform being released by OurProperty.com.au collects the rental from the tenant and then manages and pays the disbursements (exactly as the landlord and their property manager require), all in real time.

All parties benefit from the new system: the landlord gets payment in real time; the tenant has a new level of convenience with the ability to preset the way they prefer to pay their rent; plus there’s flexibility for them to change their payment method at any time. The agent also saves a huge amount of time and expense and avoids the risk of costly internal fraud.

The new way of doing business is here – it’s automated – and it provides the best customer experience possible for everyone involved.

OurProperty.com.au expect to release this exciting product to existing customer in March 2019.

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Introducing our new Advisory Board for 2019

At the end of 2018 we announced the formation of our new Advisory Board. There are some stellar names on the roster, and we can’t wait to work with them this year in 2019. Allow us to introduce you to the team.

Former LJ Hooker and Salmat CEO, Grant Harrod, is a familiar name to those in the Australian real estate landscape, and San Diego based Chris Heller is just as familiar to the industry on the other side of the Pacific, having been CEO of Keller Williams, the most dominant worldwide real estate franchise in history with more than 150,000 Agents in 800 offices globally when he left the group to become CEO of California based LoanDepot offshoot, mellohome. Heller was also named on the Inman list of the ‘10 Most Powerful and Influential Corporate Executives’ in Residential Real Estate in 2017.

Other members of the board include: Kylie Davis, formerly with CoreLogic and now CEO of Real Content and Head of Policy at the Real Estate Institute of NSW; Stephen Fisher, the accountancy partner at Jemmeson Fisher; and Vasili Hadzellis, Managing Director of Core Property Management Consulting and one of the property management industry’s leading advisors.

Our full list of Advisory Board members includes: Vasili Hadzellis, Leanne Howard, Peter Crowther, Kylie Davis, Kate Pearson, Russell Burstow, Grant Harrod, Stephen Fisher, Sandy Moore, and Chris Heller.

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Maintenance via the OurProperty Maintenance Platform

Not everyone is a natural with an angle grinder, or particularly proficient with a plunger. However, real estate agencies deal with all types of property repairs and maintenance challenges many times each day. Consequently, selecting the best professional Tradesperson for each maintenance request and being able to track the progress of job efficiently is of paramount importance.

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Real estate agencies typically only use licensed and qualified Tradespeople to carry out work on their managed rental properties. Most Property Management agencies are likely to have built-up a network of reliable Tradespeople over a long period of time. However, each agency is forced to invest significant time ensuring all existing and any new Tradespeople meet all legal obligations and requirements. For most agencies, employing a new Tradesperson often requires a lot administration work which frequently deters a Property Manager from sacking an overcharging or unreliable tradie. This potentially creates higher costs for Landlords plus incomplete maintenance issues due to a lack of quality Tradespeople.

To solve this, OurProperty has developed a compliancy, job management and rating system for Tradies.

The OurTradie platform integrates with OurProperty and eliminates the administration burden experienced by Property Management real estate agencies. The OurTradie is designed to verify a Tradies insurance and legal compliancy details whilst also providing a ratings system for Property Managers, Landlords and Tenants can give feedback upon the completion of a job. This database of rated Tradies is easily accessible for a Property Manager as they create a work order or quote and only shows Tradies who are able to perform the type of work required. This allows a Property Manager to easily engage the best suited, highest rated, professional local Tradie for any property maintenance job.

Detailed reporting of property maintenance issues can potentially lower the repair costs for Landlords by enabling a Tradie to take the appropriate tools to complete a job on the first visit to a property. The OurProperty Tenant App aims to provide this by asking Tenants intelligent qualifying questions and enabling photos and video to be uploaded. Once submitted, this information is sent to the Property Manager who can edit or send the maintenance request to the Landlord for approval. Upon approval, the Tradie is provided with all the information about the job including any relevant previously completed work via the OurTradie App and online. The OurTradie App allows Tradies to easily select when they would like to attend a job and saves time with automated notifications and no complex Tenant entry forms.

After a Tradie has attended a job request, the Tenants are asked various questions to gage feedback about the completed maintenance. This information allows a Property Manager to assess each Tradies work quality and performance whilst ensuring jobs are competitively priced for the scope of work completed. Landlords are also kept informed about the job completion and costs ensuring there are no surprises at end of month.

Invoicing can be a bothersome formality for a Tradie and consequently a problem for the Agency. The OurTradie portal and app makes it much easier through integrating MYOB or Xero enabling a Tradie to directly send an invoice to a Property Manager for approval. This enables a Property Manager or Landlord to immediately approve or question an invoice. Another major advantage of this integration is that a Property Manager doesn’t need to manually enter any invoice details into their real estate agency trust accounting system. This frequently results in Tradies being paid much sooner and eliminates manual data entry errors. The Tradie can easily keep track of their income too, with the ability to see when they will receive payment for each invoice with automated alerts sent to a Property Manager for any overdue or unpaid amounts.

CONCLUSION:

The OurProperty software platform allows residential Property Managers to efficiently handle maintenance and save up to 64% of the time they normally spend on this task. Automation is the way of the future, and the only thing that will allow Agencies to compete with low fees and increasing client expectations.