Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Benefits of Professional Photography

Source: An article by Josie Hodgson
It is common in the market place to see property managers being a jack of all trades. They are accountants, interior designers, marketing experts, problem solvers, counsellors, property stylists to name but a few. Now we are expecting that they become professional photographers as well. Why?  
Is it because most property management departments believe that their Landlord will not pay for professional photography?   Whilst this may be the case in a few instances if the owner is educated correctly and shown the benefits they almost always agree to pay for marketing photographs, they just have to see the benefits.
When a landlord asks “Why do I need professional photography for a rental property?”
Tell them why…
A recent survey showed that more than 80% of people search for their new home on the internet.
So with the majority of people searching online for their new home, if your property does not look impressive, tenants are just not going to bother to inspect it.
The way a property presents is an important factor, if not the most important factor in generating interest. As the old saying goes “a first impression is a lasting impression, whether good or bad”.
When photography is left to property managers who in most cases have the use of an expensive camera with all the bells and whistles. It sounds fantastic and easy all you have to do is point and shoot and we expect the camera to do the rest. Whilst in some situations the photographs are acceptable in most, they are not.
This is not always the fault of the property manager as they are not trained in this field. Would you recommend a friend photograph a wedding or a professional photographer? Whilst leasing a property the images are not a lifetime memory they are usually the first impression a prospective tenant has of the property and they will decide in only a few short minutes if they will inspect the property or not.
The photos below show the same property – the property manager has taken the first photograph and a professional photographer has taken the second.
Unedited photograph

Edited photograph
Professional photographers bring out the best in a property. Proper lighting techniques, clever angles, composition and some tricks of the trade that only professional real estate photographers have ensures that the property looks its absolute best. Not to mention it is a tax deduction as well.
It is no secret that properties that are well presented have more enquiries, more inspections, fewer days on market and in some cases achieve a HIGHER RENT.
Property Observer recently reported that less-than-ideal photographs could be a contributing factor for properties that have not been tenanted for a while. Still not convinced? Take a look at
At Toop&Toop we have two professional, full-time photographers who are available to photograph your investment property.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Buying appliances for your rental property

Making the right decision to maximise your investment returns
Replacing appliances in a rental property is often a huge headache for owners, but it’s all part of your investment business. Making sure you make a decision that is right from an investment perspective is more important than your personal preference.
You need to balance quality, durability and price to provide your current residents and future renters the equipment to ensure they have working appliances.
Practicality and cost effectiveness is the key
Tenants don’t expect all the extras, but they do want a product that works consistently effectively and economically as they are paying the utility bills.
The more features an appliance offers means more things that can go wrong with that appliance. If your property is at the higher end then there is an expectation that a premium brand appliance will be used, but for most rentals go for practical and durable.
It doesn’t mean going for the cheapest however, you need to consider the warranty, availability of parts, costs to service the machine and access to contractors who fix those specific brand of appliances.
Save on energy
Looking at energy efficiency has obviously become a priority. Tenants are concerned like home owners of skyrocketing utility bills. The manufacturers are taking this into consideration and including energy star ratings on their products.
Go to to check out recommended brands.
Consider different model styles
Consider the more economical replacement types for refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens or washers/dryers. Buying an older-styled or refurbished model might save you hundreds of dollars, without sacrificing on quality. These savings can especially be found for refrigerators, where top-freezer models sell for hundreds of dollars less than the more stylish and larger side-by-side or bottom-freezer models.
Get the best price
There are a number of ways to find great prices on appliances. Start with an online search for the base price of a particular model. and Google’s product search are two smart places to check. Once you have a sense of the going price range for a certain appliance, you can begin shopping in earnest.
Look for reduced-price floor models or scratch and dent savings or run out models.
Be proactive
Replacing appliances is a necessary part of being a landlord or property manager. Shopping around early rather than waiting for the call from the tenant to say the appliance is not working will save you time and money.

There is a limited time to get a fix for a tenant, so you want to make sure you are making an informed decision and not one on the run.

At Toop&Toop we have a list of preferred models that fit the criteria and suppliers who can install and service at our fingertips.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Market Wrap Up - June Quarter 2013

In South Australia, the median weekly rent of $325 remained steady since the beginning of the year. The average turn round time on properties for the industry is 27 days. Toop&Toop’s vacancy rates have been sitting around 14-20 days well under the average.

Consumers demand A Better Industry
Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about their rights and demanding in terms of their expectation on service levels.

Specialist knowledge of local areas and a depth of understanding of maintenance issues is the necessary to meet consumer needs.

Residential Tenancy Legislation Changes
The burden on owners and agencies has increased with the new legislation. New laws around hanging abandoned goods, the decreased time frames for inspections and increased privacy requirements.
One bonus is that documentation regarding a tenancy can now be emailed rather than snail mailed which will save time and prevents claims of documentation not being received.

As a private landlord it is becoming a logistical minefield adhering to these new laws and the requirement for all documentation to be submitted and processed on time.

Delays in actioning maintenance
Tenants believe that their repairs and maintenance issues are not being addressed in a timely manner once reported.

Over 47 per cent on a national survey responded that they experienced significant delays in their requests being actioned.  From an agents perspective there is always a question of balancing between what is classified as landlord or tenant responsibility.

It also depends on the rent and the age and condition of the property when it was tenanted. A $210 per week property is not going to be in the same condition as a $410 per week property. 

There is however the safety issues for example  any electrical repairs or what is considered an emergency such as blocked drains or flooding.

An agent is able to act as the broker and with their experience can successfully navigate between both parties rather then have the tenant and landlord at opposing ends in terms of view point of who should do and pay for what.

It is important that all maintenance is followed up and addressed even if it is to inform the tenant that they are responsible.

With tighter budgets landlords have become less willing to approve repairs as economic times have put a squeeze on their returns. The influx of sales properties has also meant the rents have remained the same and in some case declined. This has allowed tenants to be fussier and take preference over homes that are in a better condition or have upgraded facilities.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Checking tenants information

On 1 November 2010 the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was integrated into the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and a new website established at

Major changes to the Privacy Act 1988 will into effect in March 2014. Agencies, businesses and not for profits need to start preparing for these changes.

Many tenants ask the question - A real estate agent* has listed me on a residential tenancy database. Can I access the information the residential tenancy database holds about me?
The answer is yes, but there are conditions on it and some are only accessible by agents and or have a licence fee attached.

All residential tenancy database operators are covered by the Privacy Act. But, sometimes they do not have to give you access.
Giving access may mean allowing you to inspect your record or giving you a copy of it. You may also be charged a fee for access. A fee should not be excessive and you should not be charged simply for making a request for access.

Some of the major residential tenancy database operators in Australia are:
TICA (Tenancy Industry database)
National Tenancy Database
EAC Multilist
Trading Reference Australia
RP Data

Other sources such as Google, Face Book, Linked in will depend on whether there are privacy settings on their website but you would be in dangerous territory publishing anything defamatory.

The golden rule is to check and check again.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Townhouse - cosmopolitan lifestyle

Live the cosmopolitan lifestyle with this surprisingly well sized secret nestled off of King William Road. Walk to local shops, restaurants and cafes and come back to your sanctuary so quiet that you'd have no idea the bustling road is just 100m away.

With a spacious living area downstairs that leads out to a generous court yard, imagine eating breakfast in the patio on a Sunday morning, basking in the morning sun. Kitchen is roomy, looking out to the courtyard, with lots of laminated bench top space. Behind the kitchen is a hidden laundry, well spaced again, with a convenient downstairs toilet.

Head upstairs and find three comfortably sized bedrooms. Main bedroom features a walk in robe, ensuite and balcony. The other two bedrooms feature built in wardrobes and the upstairs bathroom is well designed to even fit a bath, ideal to soak in after a day of shopping along King William Road.

Perfect for the investor, first home buyer or those that want to live a low maintenance lifestyle, this townhouse is perfect living in a perfect location.

  • Intercom security to gate
  • Under stair storage/cellar
  • Secure parking
  • Ducted r/c air-conditioning
  • RLA 2048

Friday, May 24, 2013

Checking tenants' information

On 1 November 2010, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner was integrated into the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and a new website established at

Major changes to the Privacy Act 1988 will into effect in March 2014. Agencies, businesses and not-for-profits need to start preparing for these changes.

Many tenants ask the question - "A real estate agent has listed me on a residential tenancy database. Can I access the information the residential tenancy database holds about me?"
The answer is yes, but there are conditions on it and some are only accessible by agents and/or have a licence fee attached.

All residential tenancy database operators are covered by the Privacy Act. But, sometimes they do not have to give you access.

Giving access may mean allowing you to inspect your record or giving you a copy of it. You may also be charged a fee for access. A fee should not be excessive and you should not be charged simply for making a request for access. 

Some of the major residential tenancy database operators in Australia are:

Other sources such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn will depend on whether there are privacy settings on their website but you would be in dangerous territory publishing anything defamatory.

The golden rule is to check, and then check again.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Looking for that perfect investment property? Take a look at these two beauties!

Neat Investment for only $240,000!

7/61 Milner Road, Richmond
Recently updated and renovated, this fabulous upstairs unit serves perfectly for an active yet easy lifestyle. Featuring floating timber floors through the living zones and a brand new kitchen. Earthy tones throughout including feature walls in the bedrooms and living. The large master bedroom boasts a full wall of built in robes.

Two balconies and a new RC AC keep those summer days cool and the winter nights warm. Dedicated off street car park.

Great location near the CBD and easy access to Hilton Plaza.

Price: $240,000

Contact: Tim Thredgold - 0418 817 407

First home owners - take note!

3/429 Glynburn Road, Leabrook

A solid cream brick home in the popular Eastern suburbs, this two bedroom home is the perfect first home or investment.

Neatly tucked behind a high fence, the home has two bedooms, one under cover carpark, a seperate laundry, good sized kitchen and dining, a generous living room and a quaint rear garden.

Add this great home to your investment portfolio, or for the first home owner, move in and enjoy the great location close to shops, quality schools and minutes from the CBD.

Price: $319,000
Contact: Tim Thredgold - 0418 817 407

Friday, May 17, 2013

ADELAIDE has to grow up - and its plan to grow it higher isn't actually that high, writes Terry Walsh.

Terry Walsh executive director of Urban Development Institute of Australia was the guest on Toop & Toop’s TV show this week discussing his recent article in Adelaide Now on the plan for Adelaide to go high rise.

He welcomes the plan, “Planning needs to be in place at least ten years prior in construction and this is a part of that process, it’s not happening tomorrow”.

Adelaide will in his opinion be left behind if we don’t raise the height of our buildings. When you look at the development in other parts of Australia especially in WA we are falling behind. Adelaide needs population growth and housing for workers.

The areas for development are inner city around the parklands and wouldn’t be over the top only 5% would be allowed up to the maximum level of 8 stories.

With the inner city development of smaller properties some of which will be high rise will come more facilities such as strip shopping and services like health centres.

Rundle Mall has often been touted as a ghost town and people cry for a reinvention of the inner city area – a denser community living close to the city will help achieve this.

Can the people have their say? Yes, the consultation process with community which is currently discussing the issue is an important part of the change process. No one likes change, but it’s inevitable. The consultation allows the community to feel they had had an input.

As Terry says, “when it's our state's outlook, job opportunities for our children and a sustainable future in question, when we're united on a commitment to foster economic growth, and quality of contemporary living, there's enough common ground to achieve sensible synergy”.

Terry is leading a team next week to the States to look at suitable housing development styles. This will be opportunity for the architects and construction professionals of our state to shine.

To read more of Terry’s article click here:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sir Richard Branson and Mark Bouris share their tips to success

The National Achievers Congress hit town this week with a line up of impressive speakers, all keen to let Adelaide investors know how to create the wealth they desire.

The big draw cards of the two-day seminar were Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin empire, and Mark Bouris of Celebrity Apprentice fame were the two speakers everyone was excited to see.

So how did these seemingly ordinary men achieve their success.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard has turned conglomerates on their heads and aggressively taken market share in the music, airline, telecommunication industries - just to name a few - and will soon expand his empire into space.

He believes business is about keeping the others honest.

Sir Richard said “ isn’t really necessary, it’s more to entertain kids; once you know how to spell and add up then it's not much use, unless you want to be a rocket scientist." 

Let’s hope his space team went to school and all have the right qualifications.

He believes it's about being prepared to take up the challenge, to go for your big ideas.

“It’s people who make the business and you need to be flexible to their needs,” is Sir Richard’s philosophy on employees.

He has developed a pride in his team that is evident in both their service standards and achievements.

Mark Bouris
Mark Bouris, having sold his Wizard home loan business to Kerry Packer, has gone from strength to strength and is now a household name.

Kerry Packer asked Mark three important questions when they were finalising the negotiations for his business.

1.     “What business are you in”? Mark after some enlightening straight talk from Kerry realised he wasn’t in the business of loaning money he was in the business of fulfilling peoples hopes and dreams by putting a roof over their head.

2.    He then asked Mark  “who are your customers?" That’s all about whom they are as a person and why they come to your business. From that you can design your marketing plans around the people who best suit your business.

3.    Finally Kerry asked him, “Have you ever failed in business before?" He wanted to know if Mark had been a good leader in the hard times, as that is what counts. Will your people follow you and be inspired when business gets tough? Understanding how to disassociate yourself from the problem is the key Mark told the audience.

Whether you have one property or 10, you’re in business and that is how you need to treat your portfolio in order to be successful. These tips by Sir Richard Branson and Mark Bouris are just as relevant for your business.

How can Toop&Toop help?
We run a Landlord Business Program that takes you through an analysis of your property business and how you can maximise your returns.

If you would like to hear more about how to turn your property investment into a healthy business return contact Kerrie Akkermans on 0488 034 871 for your one-on-one consultation.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Landlord responsibilities and rights

What can you and can’t you do? Here are the facts from Residential Tenancies...

The rights of landlords are laid out in the lease agreements signed by both parties at the start of the tenancy, the information brochure provided with the lease agreement and the Residential Tenancies Act 1995. Extra conditions can be added to a lease agreement provided that they don’t contradict the Residential Tenancies Act 1995.

Basic landlord responsibilities include:
  • providing the property in a clean and reasonable state at the start of the tenancy
  • maintaining the property to a reasonable standard and organising repairs
  • giving proper receipts and maintaining records of any money received from the tenant
  • allowing the tenant reasonable peace, comfort and privacy in the property for the duration of the tenancy
  • paying council rates and taxes
  • providing and maintaining locks to ensure the property is reasonably secure
  • providing a copy of the lease, the information brochure, and two completed inspection sheets at the beginning of the tenancy
    lodging bond money with
    Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
If a landlord doesn’t meet their responsibilities the tenant can end the tenancy by giving their landlord written notice to rectify the breach. If the breach is not remedied by the specified time (usually at least seven days) the tenancy will end. If this occurs the tenant must move out by the specified date and it is recommended that this is taken into consideration before this notice is given to a landlord.

If the breach is serious the tenant can apply to the 
Residential Tenancies Tribunal to end the tenancy and to ask for compensation - eg for removalist costs.

Reasonable notice
It is a condition of the lease agreement that a landlord is entitled to show the property on a reasonable number of occasions at a reasonable time and after having given the tenant reasonable notice to:
  • prospective buyers if they are selling the property
  • prospective tenants only in the last 28 days of the current lease agreement.
It is generally accepted that it is reasonable to:
  • have one open inspection per fortnight after giving the tenant at least four days notice
  • have two inspections per week by appointment only after giving the tenant at least 24 hours notice.

The landlord’s right of access to a tenanted property
Tenants are legally allowed to live in peace, comfort and privacy in a private rental property. This means that landlords have limited rights as to when they can enter a tenanted property. This includes any gardens, shed or yard included in the lease agreement.

Usually, written 
notice to enter the premises Description: Open in new window (PDF 216KB) must be given in advance. A landlord found to be breaching these conditions may be fined. For an alternative version of this document contact CBS tenancies branch.

The landlord has right of entry to rented property only:
  • in the case of an emergency - no written notice is required
  • to inspect the property - this can’t be done more than once every four weeks and only after 7-14 days’ written notice has been given to the tenant
  • to collect rent only if the tenant has agreed for the collection of rent at the property, and no more than once a week
  • to carry out necessary repairs - 48 hours’ written notice must be given and the work must be carried out at a reasonable time
  • to show the property to prospective tenants - this can only happen within the last 28 days of a tenancy and must be at a reasonable time
  • to show the property to prospective buyers - reasonable notice must be given to the tenant and should only happen on a reasonable number of occasions and at a reasonable time
  • at any time provided the tenant’s consent was given immediately before entry.
If the tenant does not allow entry after they have been given the proper notice it is a breach of their lease agreement and the landlord can make an application to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal Description: Open in new window (PDF 44KB) to enter the property.  For an alternative version of this document contact CBS tenancies branch

Friday, April 12, 2013

Buying Property through a SMSF – Self Managed Super Fund

If you are unhappy or concerned with how your Super is being managed, it's now possible to control your own super through a Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF).
In 2007, the Australian Government legislated  for Australians to borrow money to buy property in their SMSF.
The latest figures from the Australian Tax office show a 50% increase in property investment via SMSFs since June 2008.

Since the global financial crisis Investing in residential real estate enhances the performance of the asset, reduces  the costs associated with the super fund and manage their risks themselves. 
Before jumping in consider the following -
1.      Do you have an Existing Industry or Platform Based Super Fund with a combined minimum balance of $80,000?
2.      Are you looking to control your Super Fund Investments?
3.      Are you looking for a low cost Self-Managed Superannuation Fund Solution?
Benefits of buying with Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF):
  • 0% rental income taxed in pension phase
  • 0% capital gain tax if sold in retirement
  • Invest without money from your pocket
Tony Romano, a senior financial adviser from the ANZ bank, was interviewed on Toop.TV ( this week. Here, he spoke about the benefits of SMSF.
He has personally used this avenue to invest in property over seas and is very positive about buying into real estate.  It all depends on your personal goals, so speaking to a financial adviser to assess your situation can be helpful.

To watch the complete interview, go to

Friday, March 22, 2013

Rising stress levels causes landlord, tenant and agent relationships to break

Just ask anyone and they will tell you: “I’m so stressed!”  
While  just enough stress can be a good thing, stress overload is a different story — too much stress isn't good for anyone. For example, feeling a little stress about getting a rental property or a property let can motivate you to be organised and professional throughout the process.  But stressing out too much over it can increase  stress levels and in turn, tempers flare.
Some stressful situations can be extreme and may require special attention and care.
But for most of us we just let everything get on top of us. Prospective tenants can get tense and anxious as the clock ticks towards when they must find a suitable property. Landlords see their savings disappear as the mortgage payment which now must be made by them if their property isn’t letting quickly enough.
Financial burdens and concerns are commonly a cause of stress. This leads to landlords not wanting to spend money on maintenance and tenants not wanting to pay the rent or wanting a reduction if maintenance isn’t being done
Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalise it, resulting in negative consequences, often detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.
Keep this in mind if you are a landlord, tenant or agent. Usually there is a reason behind a person’s behavior and that could be stress, so take a breath and put yourself in the other’s shoes.

An agents’ role is to be the mediator between the two parties and to assist relationships. A good agent will do this diplomatically serving g the best interest of all parties.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Beware of screening tenants via Facebook - The States are already facing legal cases over privacy issues!

Source: the Chicago Tribune News
Recently, a tenant applied for a rental and thought they would get the place. They had an excellent record as a tenant, a stable job, and a string of happy landlords in their past. However they were refused... Perhaps they should have checked their Facebook page before applying. Landlords and agents regularly check these, and they make decisions based on what they find. In this tenant’s case he was a political lobbyist and was a devotee of an eastern religion.

Was the information the landlord found the major contributor to his decision, if it was if we were in the States it would have been illegal?
Online searches of applicants' social media postings are on the rise. In the employment area, studies show that employers regularly conduct such searches. For example, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management contacted 541 job recruiters and found that 18 percent said their companies regularly researched their applicants on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. There's no reason to think that landlords and agents are proceeding any differently.
But as tempting as these sources are for information about potential tenants, using them carries a significant legal risk.
Suppose, for example, that you're a landlord who regularly goes online to research applicants. You're about to reject an applicant because of a poor credit score, but you've also viewed his Web page, which reveals that he's a devout (name a mainstream religion). Your applicant is incensed when he doesn't get the apartment and files a complaint with ombudsman...
What could happen from here?
They question you about your motives and, although you explain that the poor credit score alone justified your rejection, you also admit that you knew about the applicant's religion. Unfortunately, you have to convince the investigator that this latter bit of knowledge played no part at all in your decision. You'd have been far better off if you'd never learned of the person's religion in the first place.
You, however, are the applicant with a rejection and a revealing Facebook page. Unfortunately, you have no evidence that the landlord actually saw your page. You won't know whether he did unless you ask him. He's not likely to answer, and you won't get any information until you put him in a position where he'll have to answer. But to do that, you'd have to file a complaint that a fair housing agency will pursue. But your conjecture alone that he may have gone online, because lots of landlords are doing that, probably won't be enough to convince a fair housing official to act on your complaint and initiate an investigation.
There's a lesson here for both landlords and tenants. Landlords, be wary of going to social media sites to check out potential tenants. You may learn information that is totally extraneous to your decisions, but may come back to haunt you when you're challenged to prove that your knowledge of the applicant's religion, ethnicity, age and so on was irrelevant. True, you may also learn that he's a party animal every weekend, but you could probably learn that the old-fashioned way (by talking to past landlords or agents).
And tenants beware: What you post is likely to be viewed by landlords and employers. Think twice before sharing with the entire world!