Michelle Aslander is Principal of Raine & Horne Victoria Park and Suburbs, where she works as both a property manager and sales representative. Having started in real estate in 1997, her outstanding career achievements include becoming co-chair of REIWA’s Property Management Network and a committee member of REIWA’s Women In Property.
Michelle recently talked to us about her speciality, property management. Read on for her advice on screening tenants, rental pitfalls, and juggling career and family.
Q. Michelle, what attracted you to property management? What do you enjoy about it now?
I began working as a receptionist for a real estate agency in Mt Lawley. In that role I supported the property management department, enjoyed it and enrolled to do my property management license at REIWA. An opportunity later developed to move into a property management role and the rest has grown from there.
I enjoy so much about what I do and am absolutely passionate about property management. You meet all kinds of people, see all types of properties and there is a never ending curve of learning which I thrive on.
Q. Are there any disadvantages, or challenges, of this career?
I would not say there are a lot of disadvantages but do believe property managers are disadvantaged when learning is not embraced in the office they may be working in. This in term disadvantages themselves and the agency they work for as they are not as skilled and competent as another property manager may be. Education, professionalism and communication would be the three main key factors in my opinion to a well run property management department.
Effective communication is often a challenge for many property managers – training and experience will overcome this. Communicating and being up front with your clients, tenants and owners alike avoids potential issues.
Q. What is the single biggest pitfall for owning a rental property?
Not having your property professionally managed by an experienced property manager. Often owners will self manage or opt for a property manager who charges reduced fees and more often than not they will eventually end up with the experienced property manager who sorts out the problems.
Q. What’s the best way to go about screening potential tenants, and if you had to choose one top tip for choosing the right tenant, what would it be?
All rental applications should be thoroughly completed and thoroughly reference checked, no short cuts or ‘they seem nice’. After 16 years I still believe go with your gut feeling. Sometimes you may have an applicant whereby all references are solid but you have that niggly gut feeling – somewhere down the track you realise why you had that initial feeling.
In our office we also put all rental applications to the owner/s for their consideration. Ultimately the owner decides the successful tenants.
Q. Michelle, you both sell and manage properties, serve on the boards for numerous committees, and are a mother to three children. How do you find the time to successfully balance everything?
I thrive on being busy, my thirst for knowledge, my desire to give back to the industry and my love for my family. Somehow it all comes together. I’m not a person who can be still or complacent in what I am doing – there is always something more.
Q. How has the industry changed since you first started?
There is far more focus on systems and procedures, training and education and a lot more opportunities out there. When I initially started in property management, roles like business development managers etc were almost unheard of.
Q. What advice would you give to a new property manager starting their career in the industry?
Never stop learning!
Thanks Michelle. You can learn more about Michelle’s experiences with Victoria Park and property management on her blog, or get in touch with her on Twitter. Looking for more advice from real estate professionals? See our other Ask an Expert posts.