The easiest way to stop outside agents in their tracks

Contributed By: TheOnsiteManager on

NOTE: This is an older article from 2016, we have now overhauled our software to *automatically* strip the unit number out of the listing for you before sending it to outside portals. You should therefore now include the unit number in your address, and keep the box marked “Show Unit Number To My Competitors” set to NO. This will then ensure all systems work optimally for your owner’s security.

As a manager you have a finite number of owners in your complex. As such, outside agents have the potential to inflict enormous damage to your income and the value of your business if you let them.  Chances are, you won’t have any idea that an outside agent has identified a vulnerability in your business model and is raiding your rent roll until it’s all too late. You need to bullet proof your business NOW – not after you’ve realised a raid has been carried out and your letting pool has been decimated. The greatest protection you have against outside agents is to NEVER disclose unit numbers in your ads.

If you place unit numbers in your listings, the first thing that happens when you press that SUBMIT button, is every other real estate agent in your area is sent a gift-wrapped list of all the rental property in your building, courtesy of the major property databases. Not only that, they’re also hand-delivered a copy of every one of your owner’s full names, their home address, their home phone numbers, how many properties they own, and even how much rent their properties are being marketed for both now and historically. If you’ve ever entered a unit number in any of your ads, I can guarantee you that within days of your advertisement going live, your owners are being solicited by outside agents. They’ll be sending them letters, ringing them up, and making all manner of grand promises to achieve better rental returns and lower commissions than they’re getting from you, the current manager. Without a unit number it’s impossible for 3rd parties to identify which listing is for rent, they can’t figure out who owns them, and they can’t work out who to canvas. Without that information, they’ll simply move on to the next listing and hopefully leave your owners alone.

It isn’t just outside agents that are checking out what rentals are being marketed in your building – When you disclose unit numbers in your advertising, local councils, state and federal government bodies can (and will) keep a tab on the activity too. The ATO is always looking to identify properties that haven’t been declared as rentals. Local councils, too, charge far higher rates on properties that are being rented and state governments are keen to know about any stamp duty transactions that were undertaken on investment properties that may have been put through as residences. Be sure to protect your owner’s privacy and don’t disclose unit numbers. Again this makes it much more difficult for government agencies to attack your owners. It’s also important to remember that these databases are a permanent, public record. Even if you only ad the unit number for a second, it will be immortalised in the database forever and can never be erased.

A lot of managers incorrectly believe if they omit the unit number, they will be punished by RealEstate.com.au for duplicate listing. RealEstate.com.au’s platform is smart enough to know when a listing is duplicated and when it isn’t. Firstly, it is perfectly acceptable to have more than one property advertised at a street number, provided it is a unit, apartment, townhouse or villa. It is only the HOUSE category that is limited to 1 listing per street number – so you’re fine to have more than 1 apartment or townhouse listed at the same street number. Secondly, when it comes to duplicate listings for units, apartments, townhouses and villas, REA spot these when they’re reported to them by other agents / users of the site (and they will report them – don’t worry). REA’s legal/QA team will check the listing by hand if it’s been brought to their attention – and they can tell straight away if it’s a duplicate (identical price, identical images, identical descriptions, etc). In fact you’ll be busted just as quickly duplicate listing a property at multiple addresses as you will at one.

So there really is no reason to display unit numbers in your listings and a myriad of very serious reasons not to.

8 Comments

  1. A listing of all owners and their contacts was requested by one owner occupier and given to this individual including all my details. When I contacted the BC Manager he said, when requested they will give out these details and iunder the BCCM Act it was / is allowable.
    If you attend the BC and ask for the minutes etc of a complex under the guise you are doing due diligence to purchase the BC will give you all the information.
    How does the Managementt Rights owner protect themselves here?
    It appears to me the BC Managers work against the MR owner as they (BC) don’t care if the MR owners lose rental pool as they still get paid regardless.
    MR is the only business I can think of that “Has no Rights”:
    Cannot vote as a committee member protecting the business.
    In a complex of 13 apartments with 2 owner occupiers both are on the committee of 4 ensuring owner occupiers get their say? The MR owner has no say. The ratio of committee members is way out of whack but nothing in the ACT to stop these inadequacy.
    A new MR owner must be approved by the Committee, so the present MR owner is at the discretion of the committee if he can sell/ purchase?
    Owners can sell using an outside agent and can sell to an owner occupiers, or give the unit to be rented out by the agent. The owner can rent out the unit themselves?
    The Management Right Owner has NO RIGHTS. ThevACT disallows the MR owner from being a voting committee member?
    None of the above is made clear to prospective MR owners.
    It’s a business whereas the MR owner is subjected to BC Managers and voting committee members alike that has NO monetarily value in the business and can screw the MR owner at their pleasure!!
    Not a sound business!

    1. Hi Mick,

      Sounds like you didn’t quite know what you were getting into, which could mean that the broker you bought through didn’t explain enough, or, your own due diligence was not thorough enough, either way, you would do well to join ARAMA and get some advice.

      It is also advantageous to create good relationships with your BC and your BCM, you will find that if they get to know you and you have formed a trust, that they will work to protect you, it is in their interests to have really good tenants in their complex, and outside agents will never be as choosy as the manager who has to live with those tenants. This in turn protects the value of the complex and your business. It has to be a win/win. You are a contractor to the BC, that’s how you have to see yourself.

      1. Author

        Absolutely agree on the ARAMA front!
        Building should work best when the manager, BC committee and BC manager are all working together as a team. Am on a committee in Teneriffe and I always feel like the whole building runs like a smooth operation with everyone working together and communicating well. It took our building a long time to get to this point but it goes really nicely when it does.

    2. Author

      Mrs are an extreamily stable business actually… i run several companies and i have nowhere near the levels of protection offered by the mr industry… i could only dream of a 25year contract with my clients for a start…

      It’s fairly common knowledge manager can’t vote and is done to protect conflict of interest between caretaker and bc. Is it fair? Maybe not… but it’s certainly not hidden from prospective managers. I assumed everyone knew this? If you don’t then i suggest you do more research before committing a few million dollars to a management rights.

      If an outside agent is determined enough, they can simply hire someone to attend every open house and make a note of the unit number. But adding unit numbers to listings is the main way outside agents will prospect your rent roll because database services automatically mine this data for them. So it’s just asking for trouble and making it too easy for them. They’d have to be very determined to steal your listings if you leave this data out and generally they’ll just move onto the next listing in such a case.

  2. Great tip about not advertising unit numbers Nick. Is this true for both rentals and sales?

    Regards
    Helen

    1. Author

      Hi Helen, Yes the same is true for both sales and rentals. You are not (currently) required to declare the unit number for Units, Apartments, Townhouses or Villas (only houses). Of course this requirement can change without warning. We used to automatically filter unit numbers from all listings before they went up to Realestate.com.au, even if a manager had added one… worked a charm until one day about 2 years ago… The *DAY* I left on vacation they changed the rule without warning. I had 300 managers listings rejected simultaneously and all hell broke lose. Spent the first day watching my friends swimming and drinking while I hacked out some code from a mobile phone to remove the filter so listings could go up. About 2 weeks’ later REA worked out the issue and began allowing people to omit the unit numbers once more – but I’ve never been game to switch the filter back on in case they change their minds again.

  3. I have worked as a relief manager at resorts from Port Douglas to Sydney for the past ten years and yet to work for a management rights business that is struggling. In fact the great majority are doing very nicely thank you.

  4. The management rights industry is generally in reasonable shape but the legislative protections for caretakers/letting agents are not sufficient. Too many provisions contain words of a general nature rather than specifics and should be addressed by the Qld Govt review into the property laws but the Govt representatives are dragging their feet and making almost no progress. Contract conditions and protections vary from site to site because there is little in the way of consistency in the drafting of contracts. Committees overreach their rights almost every time when it comes to assignments and some solicitors go into a feeding frenzy at the thought of having a client whose bill will be paid by the outgoing caretaker/letting agent.

    There is much that is right with the industry and also much that is wrong, including government and the banks as well.

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