Business inspiration

How embracing technology helped this property manager to take a flexible approach

3 min read

In a country famously in love with the housing market, property management is now big business in New Zealand.

But boutique property management firm Angel Property Managers has discovered there’s value and opportunity to be found in being a smaller player.

The Auckland-based firm was started in 2012 by director Trevor Higginson and CEO Robyn Marie-Case. In the intervening years the duo have since quadrupled their client base and branched out beyond New Zealand’s biggest city to manage rental properties around the country.

“Dealing with property management issues can be quite controversial – for property owners, for tenants and for the property managers who are working in the middle,” explains Robyn, who had a number of years in the industry under her belt and her own investment properties prior to starting the business. “We wanted to create a more caring culture to support our tenants and our owners working together.”

Being a smaller player, she says, allows the company to be more nimble and responsive to clients’ needs. All tenants and owners can contact the company and receive a personal response at any time via cellphone, email or Angel Property Managers’ office number.

Work remotely

That flexibility and responsiveness is aided by the company’s heavy adoption of technology solutions. For example, all the company’s property managers work remotely, tapping into the company’s network via a cloud-based server.

The company’s virtual, cloud-based approach has also helped as it’s branched out beyond the Auckland market to manage properties around the country. Robyn says this opportunity presented itself as Auckland property prices rose, and existing clients began seeking more affordable property investment opportunities in the regions.

“We had clients say ‘we really like what you do and we now have some properties in Gisborne – could you manage those for us too?’. They’ve liked being able to invest outside of Auckland but still retain the relationship with their property management company, and not start a new relationship in each different place from scratch.”

The firm also uses a property management database, called Palace, through which managers can easily and quickly carry out many key activities – from inspections to sending a work order to a local tradesperson. Via a background and credit checking portal with the Tenancy Practice Service, prospective tenants can upload the necessary documents to process rental applications, which flow through to tenancy agreements.

Payment device

Another tech tool the company has recently adopted is BNZ’s portable payments solution PayClip. The small, handheld device allows the company to take payments via Eftpos and major credit cards.

“We try to use technology to ease the burden of people needing to travel around,” says Robyn, “and the beauty of PayClip is if people have access to funds via their bank or credit card they can pay their bond, rent, letting fees or rent arrears instantly and on the spot. It provides another option.”

More broadly Robyn says the property management industry is currently dealing with a number of issues, including ensuring all rental properties comply with new compliance standards around smoke alarms and insulation, and managing asbestos. A government proposal to prohibit charging letting fees also poses a significant challenge to the sector, she says.

Already working in a challenging regulatory environment, property managers also regularly find themselves working under pressure to meet high tenant and owner expectations, says Robyn.

“Property management is really about tidying up and professionally managing the relationships between owners and renters,” says Robyn. “It’s a passion of mine to protect our property managers in what can, at times, be a challenging environment.”