While many property investors credit using sophisticated strategies for their prosperity, MJ Anthony believes that good property management has been one of his simple but incredibly effective secrets to success throughout his property investment journey.
The property investor has spent the last 13 years building an impressive 12-property portfolio worth more than $2 million, and he plans to spend the next decade reaching for his big goal—100 properties and half a million in income each year.
He shares some of the highlights of his journey to Smart Property Investment, how good property managers will continue to play key roles as he goes on to reach his goals, and why he is not considering changing strategy for now:
How do you manage your 12-property portfolio?
MJ Anthony: I've got a bunch of regionals—eight regionals—all managed by one property manager in Wellington, New South Wales. I've got a separate manager for Nowra, a separate one for my Brookwater house… [But] I don't have a property manager for my Brisbane apartment because the building owner is the tenant... She just pays me monthly rent and if there's anything that needs fixing, she'll let me know.
What is the first thing you ask when looking for a property manager?
MJ Anthony: How many they're already managing. If they're managing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, per one manager, then they're obviously not gonna spend the time to look after you. I've had the same property manager in Wellington for the last seven years and she's brilliant—the whole team is brilliant.
[It’s about] how quickly they respond to emails, how quickly they respond to phone calls, how they vet the tenants. How they, basically, do their job.
How many properties does your property manager monitor?
MJ Anthony: Eight… [Her] service has been really, really great.
Do you have other ways to determine the best manager for your properties?
MJ Anthony: One of my property managers in Brisbane—Kristy Lord from Johnston & Dixon Quality Properties in Milton, I believe—I've used [her] for the last seven years and she's been through different agencies and worked for different companies… I've just followed her almost like a sheep… She's an awesome property manager, and it's very hard to find people with that sort of quality, particularly with a property manager.
It's hard [business]. You get yelled at all the time. You've got tenants who don't care. You've got tenants who don't pay. You're constantly nagging. It takes a certain individual to be able to do that really well.
Are you a proactive client?
MJ Anthony: [There needs to be] constant communication... I also initiate the conversation as well. I talk to them. At the moment, because I'm aggressively buying and renovating and getting tenants in there, there's a constant churn, so it's not just a set figure. I'm always on the phone at least once or twice a week.
What do you pay as a percentage? Are you happy with that?
MJ Anthony: 7.7 [per cent], including GST [goods and services tax]. So it's 7+ [per cent] GST… The thing with small country towns is everyone knows each other. Often, they'll put tenants in who they already know. They're like, "Ah, this person's rented from us for five years. We know who that is."
I had one tenant who actually lost his job. His grandma talked to the baker, the baker talked to the coffee man, the coffee man talked to my property manager, and we found out that way… There's a different work ethic in country towns.
What’s the biggest property management mistake you’ve done throughout your journey?
MJ Anthony: I've never had any crazy, horrible tenant problems, which was a result of the property manager… I don't think I've got a horrible war story for you from a property management perspective.
Will you continue using a property manager as you work to reach your 100-property goal?
MJ Anthony: Yeah, definitely. I'd never manage it myself… They're there on the ground. They know everyone in town. I don't know everyone in town. It's [also] mainly distance… I've got no problem having properties that are not in my backyard.
[Another thing:] I'm not handy at all. I'm in IT [information technology]. I work at a keyboard all day. I could try. I could give it a go, but no. I've got a couple—a husband and wife team in Wellington—who do all my maintenance… They're on the ground [and] they also know tenants as well. So I've said, "Oh, these two people are coming into this property. What do you think?" [They’ll say], "Oh, she used to live on Arthur Street..." and she'll tell me the story about it.
Will you eventually change strategy as you go along your journey?
MJ Anthony: No. I think I've got it nailed down in terms of the checklist of how we get tenants and what we will and won't accept. Basically, when you've got an approach and it works, just keep doing it. A lot of people get bored and change their strategy… [I] just keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Tune in to MJ Anthony’s bonus episode on The Smart Property Investment Show to know more about how to find and keep the perfect property manager and how to avoid being a difficult landlord.