Advice for managing a small property business


The property sector is attractive to many people as one of the few ways of earning a very good living without having to acquire official qualifications or experience. However, the easy entry into establishing a property business does not mean it is all plain sailing from there. The property sector is a complex and challenging arena and many skills are required to effectively manage a small property business.

Required skills

Being good at organisation should be top of the skills list for those thinking of setting up a property business, because property development and management requires keeping several balls in the air at one time. Managers will need to liaise with landlords, tenants and contractors to ensure the properties meet expectations; they will also need to keep up to date with current property legislation and develop a way of working that is effective and streamlined.

When choosing an area to operate in, a lookout should be kept for areas that are up-and-coming and which will command decent rents. Good management means trying to make as much profit as possible from the property, as well as trying to minimise risk and damage. How this is achieved varies, but can include offering a lower rent to encourage long-term lease agreements, ensuring the property is occupied for longer by one tenant rather than having to deal with a succession of tenants. Always try to choose tenants who appear as if they will look after the property, rather than potentially wreck it.

Good management also means having to rely on a number of contractors to maintain the property to required standards. For example, all properties require maintenance and repairs at some point, so it will be necessary to call in a plumber to repair leaks or unblock drains, an electrician to ensure any appliances are wired in safely, or a roofer to repair a lost slate or hole in the roof. Finding reputable and reliable contractors can be a time-consuming business, and it is always best to work on word-of-mouth recommendations. A property manager should endeavour to build a list of contractors with whom they can establish long-term working relationships. Using the same contractors should also make finances easier to manage, simplifying accountancy for contractors by having only a small core of people to administrate rather than a large, diversified group. Regarding financial matters on the tenant side, a manager may also have to deal with late payments and instances of damage caused to the property that the tenant will have to pay for. This can get complicated, so it is often best for a manager to outsource finances to someone who can focus on this and who knows what they are doing.

Perhaps the key attribute any business property manager needs is that of being a people person. A manager will have to wear two hats: be the boss to his team of contractors and the go-to person for the tenant. The tenant will expect to be able to approach the property manager about any problems and will expect the manager to know the law regarding tenancy, inside out. A good property manager keeps the lines of communication open by providing the tenant with contact numbers and responding promptly to enquiries or complaints. They should also display compassion and respect the tenant’s privacy. For example, a landlord has the right to inspect a property whenever they wish, but should also realise that there are certain hours when it is not appropriate to do so.

The property sector can be a rewarding and lucrative arena and is surprisingly easy to enter, but a small property manager should also be aware that it takes a lot of hard work and patience to make their business a success.

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