One Real Estate, Darwin

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Joely Sullivan from One Real Estate talks to Rockend about her experience using Owner & Tenant Portals with
REST Communicator.

I’ve been in property management for about 15 years now. I fell into it by accident but loved it immediately. I love the dynamics of the industry and was able to progress my career from property manager to business manager starting a rent roll from scratch within three years of getting into the industry. I’ve been in a business management role for the last ten years with various property management companies, from the big offices with thousands of properties to joining One Real Estate two years ago and starting a rent roll from scratch. We’ve been able to grow that to almost 200 properties since we first opened.
 
Starting a business from the bottom up allows you to do things the way you want without having to change processes and procedures, especially if they have been set up by previous owners. You spend a lot of time thinking about the way you want to operate. From the very beginning we wanted to have everything available to us in terms of technology.
 
When we first opened the business back in 2010 we decided to start using REST Professional from the get go. I have been using REST for 15 years so there was no question in our minds as to which software provider we would go with.
 
I have used other software in the past but I was always so shocked at their limitations. I was constantly saying “I can’t believe it doesn’t do this, in REST you can”.
 
When did you begin using Owner and Tenant Portals?
We started using Owner and Tenant Portals as soon as it became available. The implementation was very easy. All we had to do was send an email to our clients advising them it was available. I like that you can log on to the configuration screen and see how many owners and tenants are using it. That prompts me every now and then to send out a reminder email to get more people on board.
 
I’m now using Owner and Tenant Portals as a selling tool, as I include a page in our listing kits showing off the portals, and saying that we offer online access to your information 24/7. I’ve included screen shots of the front page and the reporting section showing them what they can access, not just for the owners but the tenants too. It looks really impressive now because it also includes a photo of the property, so when they log in it’s customised. I also like the fact that the banner comes up because it looks like an extension of our own website.
 
You have the ability to change the colours of the buttons, and add footers so that your agency can customise your own advertisements and give the portal the same look and feel as your own website. We have a link to our website on the portals so the landlord or tenant can click on the link and go straight to the website, which means you’re directing more traffic to your website. It’s also great for potential new clients as they see it as another offering and that gives us a great advantage over other agencies who don’t use this extra service.
 
What’s the main feature your clients use on Owner and Tenant Portals?
There is so much they can do. They can view their property portfolio, view current and previous owner statements, income and expenditure reports, view their contact details and contact their property manager. From the feedback we received they love having access to their statements. They need them from time to time, whether they’re going to a bank appointment for refinancing or going to their accountant, so they can just jump online and get them. For the other landlords who are more to the wire with their finances they can jump online and see where their tenants are paid to, when the next rent payment is due etc.
 
For the tenants, I actually think the tenant portal has a lot more information on it that’s useful for them because it gives them their lease expiry date, their rent due date, they can view recent and past tenant ledgers and I know as that develops further there will be more functionality added.
 
In terms of saving time, yesterday I had an email from an owner asking me to send her some statements from back in November and by this morning there was another email from her asking me to disregard her previous email as she had located the statements on the online portal. Obviously it’s an education process. Once they become aware that it’s available to them and they become familiar with it, it’s like internet banking, they’ll all jump online and find the information themselves! Out of 152 owners we probably have approximately 60 people using the Owner Portal, and we had great feedback when we first implemented them.
 
If I look at that scenario of having to source a statement, even though it’s only a small task, when you have a lot on your plate if only three of those tasks are sending tenant and owners statements then you could calculate that to ten minutes a day, and if you calculated that across a year it would be quite substantial. The portals essentially cut out the middle man. It gives your clients direct access 24/7 to what they want and if that’s three phone calls avoided then it’s fantastic.
 
For anyone who doesn’t use Owner and Tenant Portals yet, get on it. It’s seriously so easy. It’s included in your REST subscription, takes minimal time to set up, allows you to differentiate your services from competitors and once your clients know it’s available they will love it. I know that because it’s from Rockend it will continue to be developed and more features added so I can imagine it will only improve with time.