​Don’t lose sight of your property investment in 2014

By Angus Raine
If you’re a property investor, then you’d be no stranger to the idea of keeping your investment top of mind. But with so much attention on the fluctuations of the Aussie dollar and world stock markets at present, not to mention the recently-concluded Winter Olympics, you’d be forgiven for having your attention diverted in recent months.

However, with prosperity tipped for many real estate markets around the country in 2014, I’m recommending investors shift the focus back onto their investment properties this year, to ensure they’re maximising the returns on one of their greatest assets. As such, I’m suggesting the following tips to keep your investment home performing at its best.

Review your rents
Time has a way of slipping by, and it’s important to stay on top of market rents to maximise the return on your investment property. If it’s been a while since the last rent review, talk to your property manager, who can be a font of market knowledge, to see if you’re keeping abreast of market rents. If the lease has expired on your rental property, think about locking tenants into a new lease to enjoy more certain cashflow – your property manager can discuss your options with you.

Commit to keeping your property in great shape
Drawing up a regular maintenance plan for your property will ensure a minor problem doesn’t become a major expense if left unattended. Keeping the property in tip top condition can also boost its value – a real plus if you decide to sell in 2014.

Make the most of home equity
Equity – the difference between your property’s value and the balance of your mortgage – can be a fantastic financial resource, offering a source of low cost funding for the purchase of further investment properties or much needed renovations. Your local agent can give you an accurate assessment of your property’s market value to keep you up to speed with the equity you’ve built up.

Check your insurance
Whether your investment property is self-managed or managed by a property manager, ‘landlord protection insurance’ is a must. Landlord protection insurance covers particular risks associated with leasing a property that may not be covered by a typical ‘home and contents’ or ‘strata title’ insurance policy. For example, landlord insurance protects you from lost rent if a tenant defaults, and also covers any legal expenses relating to personal injuries to tenants or malicious damage to an investment property.

Make a diary note of strata meetings
If you own a strata property, make a note of when strata meetings will be held during 2014. Make time to attend so that you can have your say in key decisions that are likely to affect your property. In some states like NSW, strata laws are undergoing a major overhaul, and getting involved now will help you gain a clearer idea of how the new legislation will impact on you and your property further down the track. 

Angus Raine is a leading commentator on the Australian property industry and has been CEO of the Raine & Horne property group since 2006.

Mr Raine started his real estate career over twenty six years ago, previously working with three blue-chip international real estate firms, before becoming director of Raine & Horne Holdings Pty Limited in 1998.
Mr Raine is an accomplished real estate specialist and his academic and industry qualifications include a Diploma of Business (Valuation) and a Diploma of Business (Franchising). He is also a registered valuer, a Fellow of the Australian Property Institute, Member Royal Institution of Surveyors (MRICS), and a licensed real estate, stock and station business agent.
Angus is a Graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Programme, and has a professional certificate in Advanced Corporate Real Estate (API/UWS).
Since 2000, Mr Raine has been a committee member of the Family Business Association’s New South Wales chapter.