We have rugby on our minds (seriously, when haven’t we?!). In honour of the All Blacks’ Northern Hemisphere winning streak and in time for their final game at Twickenham, here are 10 rugby wisdoms that will inspire property investors.
1. It ain’t nothing but a Kiwi thing
Not only are we nuts for rugby, we are also pretty crazy about property. Why? Perhaps it is an understanding that properties double their values every 8-10 years. Perhaps we relish an investment that is tangible and fully within our control. Maybe it is the Kiwi camaraderie that compels us to provide accommodation solutions for those who have yet to start on the property ladder. Or maybe, just maybe, property provides a perfect platform for the hammer-and-nail-ready-Kiwi to add real value with real improvements. Remember that Mitre10 ‘DIY, it is in our DNA’ ad? We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
2. There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’
No one is bigger than the game. Winning and losing is always down to the team. Same thing in property. Whilst investors should start small and grow, it is also vitally important to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Put the former to use and address the latter by delegation. Delegate, delegate, delegate. All successful property investors we know have a team of supportive lawyers, accountants, advisors, managers, financiers, and friends around them. Let your team do their jobs and concentrate on doing your job well. Think about it. If you can’t catch and kick like Israel Dagg, what are you doing playing as a fullback? Get someone else to do it.
3. Know The Rules Of The Game
Running along the 30 burly men on any rugby field are the referees. These refs know the rules of the game inside out. It goes without saying that they probably know more about the rules than the players. Anyone who gets out of line will get spanked. Being a landlord, you too are bound by a set of rules (Residential Tenancies Act). You are also subject to the deliberation of tenancy refs, i.e. the Tenancy Tribunal. Make sure you know your RTA rules and operate within them. At the end of the day, the guy with the whistle has the right to sin-bin you, don’t give him the slightest chance.
4. Don’t Play It Unless You’ve Planned It
Rugby coaches are like Sun Tzu since they are instrumental in the team’s game plan. Game plans can be the make or break of any game. A well thought-out plan deliberates players’ strengths and weaknesses, anticipates the opponent’s moves and is backed up by contingencies after contingencies. Once the plan is in place, it is up to the players to execute it to perfection. Property investment is not much different. You should have an investment strategy for each stage of the property cycle: slump, recovery, boom, and plateau. When do you start buying and when do you leverage your equity? When should you be adding values and when should you conserve your capital? Don’t go off and start investing half-cocked. Have a plan in place and execute it to perfection.
5. Do the Haka
Not literally of course. (But in case that is your thing… here is a step-by-step guide).
Seriously, though the haka is now so entrenched in rugby heritage, let’s not forget its original intention – to signal that you mean business. It is a dance by serious men who are about to play a serious game. It is all in the mind you see. Give your tenant no doubt that you will treat the tenancy like a business. Don’t be sloppy. Give your tenant a move-in pack with a bank automatic payment authority form to help them stay on top of rent payments. Do regular inspections. Maintain and repair when necessary. Have a rent arrears protocol and 14-days-notice templates ready for any situation. If you treat your rentals professionally from day one, so will your tenant.
6. Win, Win, and Win Some More
Rugby loves winners. Not only are points awarded for a try, the team stands to get ahead even further with a conversion kick. Same thing in property. Once you have bought yourself an investment property (hopefully at a bargain price), win yourself more return by adding value to the property. You will be surprised at how some of the simplest alterations can net you that much more return. Stuck for an idea? We’ve got your sorted. Come on, what other winning recipes would you need?! (Well, apart from maybe this one… *har* *har* *har*)
7. Charge and Tackle
On a rugby field, when a big guy runs towards you with a ball in his arm, you don’t cower in the corner and cry, ‘Please! Don’t hurt me.’ You charge at him front on and tackle! Right? Property investment is the same. There will always be people out there who want to knock you down a peg or two for no better reason other than because they can. Don’t take it lying down. A delinquent tenant who owes mountains of rent? Apply to the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy. Hosed by Watercare? Write your local MPs and Councillors a letter. Against capital gains tax? Vote against this guy who is suggesting it. Dissatisfied with civil debt recovery procedure? Support your local PIA to lobby the government. Take action to protect your own interests. Apathy is the mother of all disappointments. Take control of your destiny and fight for your rights. If you keep on tackling eventually the ball will end up in your hands.
8. Opponents are Opponents, not Enemies
The All Blacks would not be considered the world’s greatest team if they have no one to play against. At the end of the day, playing the opponents is what these professional rugby players do for a living. Off the field, most of them get on like a house on fire anyway (I mean, just look at the bromance above). By the same token, most of us will not be where we are today without our tenants. Being a landlord is about providing an accommodation service. It is a business. Treat it like one. Manage your properties professionally and deal with your tenants fairly. They are not your enemy; they are your cash flow source that gives you a tangible return for your investment.
9. Get Yourself A Cruden
What happened last weekend in Cardiff? Everyone’s number 10 was injured and couldn’t play! Thankfully, Aaron Cruden stepped up to the plate and delivered a performance that has since won him numerous accolades. This ability to call upon someone else is also important for property investors. Though you are the master of your own investments, you will not always be able to manage your portfolio. Unforeseen events, emergencies or even holidays happen which will distract your attention from being a landlord. What happens then? Make sure you have someone you can rely on to act on your behalf when you are unavailable to your tenants. Remember, just because you are away doesn’t mean your tenants’ hot water cylinder will behave and undertake to not break down. So let me ask you this, who is your Cruden?
10. Finally, Play Fair cos Nobody Likes a Bad Egg
Delinquent players give their teams a bad stench. Being an unprofessional, agressive and bullying landlord serves no purpose other than giving the rest of us a bad rep. Tenants are normal everyday people like you and I. Chances are your tenant has an uninspiring 9-5 job, a nagging wife and a deadbeat car. Give them a break. Property investment is a worthy cause that not only provides accommodation services for those in need but also a passive income stream that will give you and your family financial stability. Just as we hold the All Blacks to a high standard of good sportmanship, so do we expect landlords to behave in an honourable and stand-up fashion. Give your tenant a good home at a good price and they will in turn look after your investment (property) for you. If they don’t, get someone who will. Don’t sully the game by playing dirty. Remember, just because the ref can’t see what you did doesn’t mean the TMO hasn’t any footages. Post-match citations leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.