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Traditional Real Estate Agency VS Specialised Property Management Agency

I recently listed a new property and following my onboarding process, they told me that The Management Agency was their choice because we only focused on Property Management. They believed in the benefits of having a specialised Property Management ONLY agency looking after their property and it was important to them having considered the benefits.

None of this is breaking news to me, the benefits to clients, tenants & the properties we manage are many, and sometimes not completely realised until they are. What they said, or it may have been how they said it just stuck with me and I thought, I need to write about this. I’ve always said and thought my structure is superior but have I ever outlined this point more specifically?

Why is a Property Management only agency better, what makes it so?

Why do I think the structure of my business needed to become a player in the industry?

Having worked in so many traditional agencies, what are the key differences, and more personally why did I have to make the change… all of these questions needed to be explored and explained, I think.

I’m not saying I reinvented the wheel, but in the almost 5 years since I started The Management Agency, more Property Management-only businesses have entered the market. I personally love to see increased competition and the flow-on effects that I believe result in higher service & compliance standards. In bad news though and what has come about that I don’t like is the cut-price fees and heavily tech-reliant players that think a quick buck can be made in Property Management, it’s not quick, as they are now finding out for themselves. As it turns out, tenants and landlords possibly don’t want to talk to an App, a bot or outsourced staff overseas perhaps.

Whilst I don’t feel this Property Management Only structure is so much a niche any longer, I can see clients’ minds working as I explain the differences, and even when it’s being discussed in conversation, even I end up saying that “It just makes sense.”

But I digress and this so needs some subheadings in here to keep me on track.

Access forms a big part of a Property Managers’ role. Planning it, coordinating it, managing it”

“With a solely focused and specialised Property Management Agency, we can operate with fewer properties than the typical agency, this translates to greater attention and focus on each and every property under management.”

A Traditional Agency

The traditional/typical real estate agency operates both a Sales Department & Property Management Department so basically catering to selling properties and managing rental properties. These are the overwhelming majority of agencies.

Property Management Only Agency

My Structure is only focused on Property Management, these have only recently started appearing though there are some agencies that have been doing this for many years on small(ish) scales. Some of these will also do the occasional Property Sale here and there, we at The Management Agency choose to specialise only in Property Management. In this way, we are able to provide the highest level of service and the focus and attention that we believe is needed and deserved for our clients and their properties.

A Traditional Agency

There are only a few Sales-only agencies in Sydney as a Property Management Department is usually seen to be the “Bread & Butter” providing businesses with regular & consistent income. Saying that some solo agents and small agencies do Sales only really well.

My Take on The Traditional Agency 

A traditional agency has a Sales Department and a Property Management Department. They sell and lease/manage Residential Properties, some also work with Commercial Properties.

Traditional Agencies typically have more team members and in turn, there are more people involved across all processes. As an example, the Property Management Department typically has Leasing Agents, Property Managers, Property Management Assistants/Officers as well as separate Admin and Account staff.

The number of properties under management varies widely based on market share but they can be anywhere from 100 to 3000 based on agencies I’m familiar with.

My experience has been that more staff equates to more turnover, especially amid our current shortages, but also more staff and people involved across each and every process. My experience hasn’t shown me that this is a good thing and results in loss of information, processes not being followed, communication issues, etc.

Whilst the belief may be that Sales & Property Departments work alongside and in alignment with each other, I haven’t seen this often to be the case. My experience has shown me little collaboration and teamwork but herein lies what I think is the biggest fault of the Traditional agency, Property Management, and its resourcing is never the agency’s priority. The sales department has the potential to be much more profitable and that’s where the business’s resources will go in terms of staffing, development, training, marketing, profile building, etc.

It is always mostly the case that the agency principals or owners are experienced in sales and not Property Management, in some cases, they work as sales agents leaving less time to focus any real attention on what is happening in the Property Management Department, that attention seems to be reactive instead of proactive.

The sales department will also prospect for new potential leads amongst the rental clients of the Property Management Department, their own private database let’s say.

Property Management becomes the minimally staffed poor cousin, left with little resources, high demands & targets placed on it.

The Benefits of Property Management Specialised Agencies

If you’ve read this far maybe you already get the idea but if an agency is going to operate successfully then the Owner / Director more than likely, or ideally, should be involved in the day-to-day operations and that’s where a Property Management only business wins.

At the very least in smaller specialised agencies, there is direct oversight on the decisions made and courses of action and there is someone heavily invested in the experience of their clients.

In a business structure like mine, we’re managing properties well beyond just doing a job. Ultimately the real goal is to retain our clients and keep their properties on board, and hopefully, with that, we can enlist their additional investment properties or be referred to the properties of their friends and family.

With a solely focused and specialised Property Management Agency, we can operate with fewer properties than the typical agency, this translates to greater attention and focus on each and every property under management. Instead of piling Properties onto Property Managers with the mindset of just increasing quantity for profitability, a Property Management only agency relies on each and every property being well managed in order to retain the client and business.

Then consider an agency like mine, where the Property Manager is the Director. Simply put, your livelihood, reputation, and future of your agency rely on satisfied customers, well-managed properties along with achieving good outcomes, there’s your motivation.

How The Management Agency can help when it comes to sales though…

Many investors want to regularly be informed on how their investment is performing in terms of value, obviously, and some sell their investments, of course, these are investment properties in the end. I personally work with other selling agents to assist my clients in being provided with obligation-free appraisals and work alongside highly reputable selling agents when my clients decide to list and this has worked out very successfully in the past. I regularly remind my clients of our ongoing offer to get an up-to-date appraisal and they can choose whether or not to engage directly with the salesperson. In this way, they’re not really missing out on anything that a Traditional agency offers but have a middleman to keep the pressure of a salesperson off their back.

Why I think a Property Management only structure works best

In this way, Managing Properties is the only activity undertaken. Providing a service to clients, tenants & their properties. It’s uncomplicated, not to be confused or as an add-on to any other service or motivation.

It just appears to me that specialising & putting a bespoke focus on one key area is the way that things are going and the way of the future.

It’s the way forward for so many service industries to play to their strengths and provide a client with that key need. If you want your Property Managed well then that’s where you go, to a specialist where you and your Property are the only focus and not other income-producing activities, this just makes sense to me.

So there’s no doubt where my opinion sits, I’ve worked in and with both Property Management Structures and I see how many new players are coming into the Property Management only space and I know what drives that, it is that individual Property Managers desire to do better, do things the way they believe is right & (no offense) not in a way that the Principal of an Agency, who has likely has little to no Property Management experience, believes it should be done.

Why do owners come, because they believe in it too and they know their greatest financial investment will serve them better and provide a smoother experience with the completely focused attention that we can provide.

I’ll end with this;

If a Property Management business can open and then operate successfully under its own steam year after year, then be assured that they have in fact built up a loyal customer base.

They just want to grow, sustainably, and organically over time and keep doing what they’re doing without their current clients feeling any difference or void in their service offering.

Well, that sounds like a mission statement.

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– Antonio

Director & Property Manager