Interview: Colleen Topping Home & Co Home Rentals
Colleen Topping is an award winning property manager, leading the team from Home & Co here in Wanaka. When you engage a rental management company to manage one of your prized assets, knowing that you have entrusted a professional and proven local team offers peace of mind.
I recently spent an hour with Colleen and was very interested to get her take on the Wanaka rental market and the changes to short term rental restructure that QLDC are proposing. If you haven’t been across the proposed changes to short term rental accommodation in the Queenstown Lakes District, read the proposed changes here.
If you have property in Wanaka or looking to invest in property, I can highly recommend Home & Co’s offering. Enjoy the read.
For people looking to buy an investment property or a property they want to make their home in years to come what can Home & Co offer them?
Peace of mind that their (possibly biggest) investment is being well cared for. We partner with you to choose careful tenants and offer in-depth credit and background checks as well as independent meth testing and regular physical inspections. We arrange free insulation checks and keep legal documents on your behalf, making sure that your rental property is fully compliant with current legislation.
How long has Home & Co been present in the Wanaka market and how long have you been involved with it?
Home & Co was founded in 2014. I formed the independent company following a 10 year career in Wanaka property management and after helping build one of Wanaka’s largest rental portfolios.
How is Home & Co different from other rental / management companies?
Our lead property manager has twice won New Zealand Property Manager of the Year (awarded by REINZ) with applicants from all companies / franchises including huge ones from Auckland and Wellington. Every other year she was a finalist in both REINZ and Leading Property Managers of New Zealand awards. We are an independent property management business so there is no conflict of interest with sales or short term accommodation.
On average, how long is it taking tenants to secure a rental property?
Tenants tell us they have been searching for weeks and even months to secure a property. It is a wonderful feeling to help tenants into a home. Just yesterday I had an overjoyed tenant saying she was so thankful her family had been chosen from among a dozen applications. She is moving here with her family and had they had booked themselves into the campground in January. Her story is not alone. Most houses we advertise are inundated with prospective tenants.
Rumours abound that rental properties in Wanaka are hard to find. What’s the current rental market like?
That story illustrates just how hard it is to find a good rental home. While it’s a great market for property owners currently, the majority see the value in choosing good tenants over holding out for the last dollar and running the risk of their valuable asset being subject to unnecessary risk, wear and tear.
Do you have any advice for tenants who are looking for rental properties?
Make sure your references are up to date and easily contactable – names, phone numbers. Join our email list and be the first to know about up coming rentals.
The proposed QLDC legislation on limiting the short term accommodation offering, what will that mean for your business?
With the QLDC proposed changes meaning home owners potentially won’t be able to rent on a short term basis year round, owners could still make the most of their property by using it for either the summer or the winter and renting to earn an income to pay for rates and insurance. Providing you are renting for more than 3 months, the new rule will not affect you. We conduct credit and reference checks on tenants to minimise risks and make renting a positive experience.
Is there an ideal type of home that performs better than others?
The quickest homes to rent have good heating (log burners and heat pumps are most popular) and a garage or secure storage. Tenants also enjoy homes with some outdoor space.
What do you believe are key characteristics people search for when wanting to rent a home?
Price, warmth and storage. Price is interesting. It is not true that the highest rent per week will yield the biggest net profit. If the house takes 6 to 8 weeks to rent, you are better off with a slightly lower rent, a bigger pool of potential tenants to choose from and a tenant who actually sees out the tenancy and doesn’t break the lease part way due to financial hardship.
What were you doing before moving to Wanaka?
I was a management trainer in Toowoomba, Queensland for a couple of years and before that I co-managed a beef and crop farm in Zimbabwe.
What is the most rewarding part of your role with Home & Co?
I love helping owners realise their dreams of a successful rental property in our beautiful town. Many of our owners plan to live in the home themselves so having tenants who respect their house is really important. We get numerous testimonials and “thank you”s from our owners.
What do you believe are key considerations for opening and successfully running a business here in Wanaka?
Know the needs and preferences of your customers. Then deliver a service that focuses solely on those customers.
Have there been any learnings that you would share with others who are looking to potentially relocate or start a business here?
Get out and meet the locals! Never turn down an invitation and try everything at least twice. I have met dozens of people through Toastmasters, BNI, Wanaka Chamber of Commerce (now Ignite) and book club.
Best place to get coffee in Wanaka?
They are all good but my fave is Relishes.
Wanaka offers so much in both winter and summer, have you seen any changes to accommodation demands throughout the year?
Wanaka used to have distinct high and low seasons in the demand for rental properties but for the last 5 to 6 years there has been a very strong demand all year round. There is still a unique “winter season” demand from workers on the ski fields and this suits a number of owners who want to enjoy their properties for summer but want to derive some income over the winter months.
What is Wanaka’s best kept secret?
Long hot summer days – I am sure we have the best summers south of Cape Reinga!
Best advice for people moving to Wanaka?
Rent first for at least 6 months so you get a real feel for the place before you buy a place of your own.
It’s 10am on a Sunday morning – where would we find you and what are you doing?
Sharing time with friends and family and being thankful for living in such an amazing spot!
Favourite time of the year in Wanaka and why?
I love April. The days still have some left over summer warmth and the leaves put on the most spectacular display of autumn colours. The trick is to photograph the poplars down at the “wagon wheels” before the wind gets to them
You can get in touch with Colleen at email@example.com