Interview: The Highs and Lows of Working in the Property Industry
Today, Tracy Wardle from Abode Property Management talks to Amy Varle about the highs and lows of working in the property industry. The conversation covers the importance of choosing the right tenant through to Tracy's appearance on Channel 4's Britain's Benefit Tenants and the impact that had on her company.
What Has Been Your Biggest Mistake in Property?
Amy: Okay, Tracy. A funny question now. It's the one everybody hates. What has been your biggest mistake, in property? Is there just one?
Tracy: There's probably many. I made most of my mistakes when I was a landlord.
Tracy: And that's helped us with the agents we've got, in that we've said, 'We won't do that and we won't do that'.
You know, the biggest thing is choosing the right tenants because, ultimately, the landlords are trusting us with, say, a £100k investment and saying, 'Can you get somebody I don't know to look after this investment for me?'
There's a massive thing about trust and finding the right tenants is key. Find the right tenants to look after the property, stay a long time, everybody's investment is working.
What Has Been Your Biggest Success in Property?
Amy: On the flip side of that, Tracy, what's been your biggest win in property? What's been something..? Give us something you can shout about, something exciting.
I know you appeared on a TV program, last year. I think that's really exciting.
Tracy: It was great fun to do that.
Amy: What was the program you appeared on?
Tracy: It was Britain's Benefit Tenants, funnily enough.
Tracy: Following some of our tenants, with vulnerable backgrounds, on housing benefits. It was great fun.
Amy: And did that have a positive impact on your business, the ability to showcase the work that you do? And perhaps, viewers were quite surprised to see how those types of tenancies are managed and everything that goes on, in those types of situations.
Tracy: It's a mixed bag, really. Because we've got the offices that we work in, people were coming to me saying, 'I didn't know what you did. I didn't know you were so ballsy.'
Amy: I love it.
Tracy: I won't cross you.
Amy: Nobody messes you around, anymore. Brilliant.
Tracy: I know a landlord that we use, regularly, said, 'If I'd watched that program I never would have used you'.
Amy: Oh, really? Wow.
Tracy: He said, he only saw the negative side of it, he didn't see the positives in it, at all because it wasn't the type of tenant he would choose.
So, he couldn't think outside the box and yet, you know, I could probably help somebody and still have a good turnover on the properties.
He couldn't see the good side of it.
Amy: I think there's a lot of that type of mindset, isn't there? I mean everybody's different and everybody's in their own comfort zone.
For me, I'm terrified of working with working tenants because I think, 'Well, who do you ring if it all goes wrong?' I can't ring for a DHP and can't negotiate with the admin-girl in the benefits office and try and get things moving.
So, I always think, that's my comfort zone. But people are always like, 'Wow, why did you choose that marketplace?'
But for me, it just fits and I think you're probably the same.
Tracy: It's a small portion of what we do. I'd say about 80% of our properties are working tenants and they're easy to deal with, aren't they?
You don't hear anything from them until there is a slight problem like a leaky boiler or the tap's not working and they're easy things that you can deal with.
The housing benefits side is very challenging.
Amy: Yes, I agree.