“We’re an asset management business primarily,” says William Taper of Willmotts in West London. “Yes, property management is a people business, but you also need to make sure that you're looking after the clients' main asset. If the asset is well looked after and well-maintained, ultimately the tenant and client will be happy, it’s a win-win.”
Willmotts, established as a firm of chartered surveyors in 1856, has been managing property for well over a century, and includes sales, auctions, valuations, property development and investment, and block management among its services. Taper, the company’s Director of Lettings and Sales, says the business's hands-on attitude is one of the reasons for its success in property management.
“We will do regular site inspections and make sure that we know exactly what’s going on with our clients' properties,” says Taper. “We all do site inspections at Willmotts, and if there’s a problem, no one at the business - whether it’s one of the directors or the owners - is above going to have a look at what’s happening and trying to resolve any issues as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Problems do arise in property management - the key is to nip them in the bud and find the best outcome as soon as possible.”
Willmotts’ residential team spends a substantial amount of their time on on-site inspections. “Some of our landlords might have 30, 40, or 50 properties and those properties are worth a huge amount of money. Sometimes, they might just own one property, but it represents the landlord’s life savings - it's their main retirement nest egg. So we want to make sure that we’re taking care of their investment. Our clients appreciate it, because they know that we know their properties back to front.”
Taper notes that, although a lot of property management can be handled remotely, there is no substitute for being there in person. He anticipates that both administration and the need for on-site inspections will increase as licensing becomes more prevalent in the coming years, and the conditions on rental properties become more onerous.
“Our biggest success in the past few years has been our investment in technology, whether that has been inspection apps, online repair reporting, online referencing and tenancy creation systems, such as Goodlord, because it has freed up so much time that we used to spend on admin,” says Taper. “It means that we can go back to concentrating on what we’re good at and make sure that we are taking the time to visit our properties, making sure that our tenants are happy, which means our landlords will be, too.”