PROPERTY NEWS - Ongoing publicity recently given to the slow but steady return of investors to the buy-to-let residential property market is certainly not estate agency hype and can be shown by his and many other estate agency groups to be taking place with growing momentum, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group.
In these circumstances, said Rawson, the estate agent who fares best is the one who can help the investor accurately calculate his potential returns, get a bond at an advantageous interest rate and, most importantly, ensure that not only the rentals are regularly collected but that the rental agent appointed is really competent at managing the unit and preventing the tenants from misbehaviour.
"Recently," said Rawson, "one of our top performing Cape estate agents, John Birkett of Rawson's Claremont franchise, a man who specializes in the sale of 'academic belt' apartments, i.e. those from Mowbray to Wynberg, was called in to advise a buy-to-let investor (not one of his clients).
This investor's apartment had been so badly misused by three student tenants that it will cost far more than their deposit, now that they are leaving, to rectify matters. This, added Rawson, was yet another case where the investor had placed the tenants himself, probably doing so in order to avoid paying an agent's commission.
"This is exactly the sort of situation that a good estate agent would have prevented from occurring," said Rawson. "Good buy-to-let agents always ensure that the tenant taking over the unit is completely au fait with the Rental Act. Good agents are firm but courteous at all times and by regular liaison with tenants prevent them from lowering the standard of the client's unit. They are also, of course, competent at seeing that they pay on time or face the consequences."
In today's market, said Rawson, the Rawson Property Group's rentals are set to rise because tenant demand now exceeds the supply of available units. In this situation, he said, the wise owner of a well-managed rental property will set aside a significant proportion of his rents for maintenance and will use this to maintain his property well and to upgrade it regularly, thereby enabling him to raise his rent by anything from 8% to 12% each time a new tenant moves in or the lease is renewed. This in practice, said Rawson, can often take place every year.