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Chris Pennisi, Time to get serious

It’s time for property management to be seen as a serious part of the business, according to Chris Pennisi. He says, “I think it’s about time that everybody who is in the property management space, decided that this is what we’re going to do. Obviously the business owners decided that property management was a serious part of their business, and not just another babysitting service for sales in the future.”

Chris is the Business Development Manager with the dynamic Devine real estate group, one of the inner west of Sydney’s most successful independent firms. He says, “My role’s a little bit different to a traditional Property Manager; I’m a Business Development Manager, so I basically go out and see clients and sell our services to them as property managers. So I find that there’s a lot of similarities between what a Salesperson does and what a Business Development Manager does.”

Chris cut his teeth as a property manager in Sydney’s inner city Darlinghurst. He could write a book about what he saw while running around at 19, showing properties from a boarding house room to a $1000 a week apartment with harbour views.

After seven years, he’d learned everything about the property management process, so he turned his hand to commercial sales. He loved the analytical aspect of the commercial world. He says, “A lot of the time you’re selling for or to a company or a funds manager, or something of that nature, so it’s not, ‘Do I like the kitchen, or the colour of the walls?’. It’s ‘What sort of percentage return is it getting? Do the figures add up?’. And it either adds up or it doesn’t. So it sells because it adds up, or it doesn’t sell because it doesn’t add up.”

The GFC hit the commercial market hard so he then tried his hand at sales at Devine. Chris says, “I remember my first week; I walked in there thinking, ‘Look, I’ve done commercial, I’ve dealt with square metre rates. I’ve dealt with all these complicated sorts of properties, net, gross, rentals, all these different concepts; residential is going to be a walk in the park. I’ve had that experience in the residential property management, I know how to sell more complicated properties, why can’t I do this?’. I soon learnt after the first week that, especially with Steve Devine’s training, there was a lot more to it than what I thought.”

While making progress in sales, Chris decided to return to his first love - property management - older, wiser and more educated on the needs of different types of investors and it is in this business development role in property management that he has found his groove.

“I think when you realise that this is what you want to do, you just automatically put everything you have into it. If you talk to anybody, such as a top salesperson, they just love getting up and going to work everyday. And I think when you don’t have that then you need to find yourself a new career,” he says

All of Chris’ past experience has come to the fore when dealing with the particular market of Sydney’s inner west. There are many overseas investors, and the area is socially and culturally diverse with many price points. He leases, “…one bedroom apartments that lease from around $300, $350 a week to houses that are five, six bedroom, have a pool, tennis court and they’re $1500, $1600 plus.”

Chris says, “The number of people who buy an investment property in the inner west of Sydney who live overseas is phenomenal. I mean, I had a look at some of the ones I missed out on recently, and out of that 154 I listed and leased, I probably could have brought that up over 200 if I had every opportunity.”

Investors are key players in the market and they need to be looked after by agents who understand their needs and interests. He says, “I think at the end of the day the reason why someone would choose me over another agent is not because I’m the cheapest, because we’re definitely not. It’s mainly to do with the fact that they feel more comfortable working with me. I think the fact that I can be articulate about why we can get them a better result, and at the end of the day it’s not just about really quickly leasing their property; we’re trying to get them the best result, and then obviously from there ensure that the property is looked after in the right way.”

In the last year, with a property management department of 12 people, they listed and leased 154. Chris aims to do between 8 and 10 appraisals a week, sometimes getting to 12. But he’s not satisfied with these numbers.

Chris is determined to grow the business and provide the best possible service. He says, “I want to build a prelisting kit video. I want to rebuild my listing presentation.” He also wants to create a community of data. He explains, “You know, we see a property for lease and we think, ‘Oh we used to look after that one a while ago’. And you have a look in Complete Data, and it’s not there. Have a look in RP data, and obviously there’s not much there. But then you go into REST, and there’s the owner’s details. Or there’s a tenant that we used to have in our property seven years ago, and we’ve got all their details of course. So I just thought, there’s got to be an easier way of putting all that stuff together, so that we have one centralised database and we can communicate with people much more quickly.”

Chris is a man who is going places and he will be presenting the advanced the advanced listing workshop for property management as part of real estate academy's 2015 tour don't miss out!

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Chris Pennisi, Time to get serious