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.