CHENNAI: Want to landscape your garden, make a topiary or gazebo set amidst a bed of roses at your estate back home, while sitting in far-flung Sweden or Netherland?
Well professional property management startups are coming to the rescue of NRIs, who want help in managing their estates, farms and apartments in India. And nothing is too big or small for startups like Portiqo, Konnect Realty, Help at Homes — from unblocking a choked sink pipe to setting up a rain water harvesting system to collecting rent from tenants — these startups provide A-Z services for all property related services. Property managers say they have clients from nearly 20 countries worldwide, including US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Gulf countries. “We even have a small percentage of clients from Africa,” says Mohan U, owner of Konnect Realty.
Tenant fee management, commercial property rent-outs, crediting advances or wiring money to different countries are the normal duties that fall on the shoulders of property managers. “We ensure prompt payment of water tax, corporate tax, payment of maintenance to building societies. We even undertake interior designing projects, refurbishing, garden landscaping, creation of flower beds. For NRIs with farm houses or farms, we undertake fencing, plantation of crops and payment to gardeners, caretakers and other employees,” says Mohan.
At times, property managers are even asked to build houses from scratch. Clients sometimes ask for construction of garages, summer houses, outdoor sheds, gazebos or a miniature playhouse for their children. “We obviously don’t have the expertise to cater to all their needs. But since we are in the business, we connect with about 500 specialists, including horticulture experts to satisfy our clients,” says Mohan.
And clients do appreciate the range of services they offer and the professionality that comes with it. “Despite having a lot of relatives, friends in Chennai, we were unable to get basics done because everyone is so busy these days. Once, the electricity connection in our flat was disconnected. But with a property manager, we were able to get a lot of work done and at very affordable rates,” says Prasad Rao, a software consultant from SouthLake, Texas. “But we had to do some research before we could zero in on a manager. Many of the websites we checked were fake, till we found Rajam Properties and they were reliable,” cautions his wife Beulah Rao. Another reassuring factor about property managers is the constant Before-and-After pictures and reports they send of the property. For smaller repairs like clogged sinks or concealed wiring, property managers send photo updates on WhatsApp or Facebook. For more extensive repairs, reports are created and updates are send in a phased manner.
Most property managers already have expertise in real estate before they branched out. T Chockalingam of 360 Degree Property Management Services said earlier he was doing this for friends and relatives, before he realised it could be monetized. “The idea was mooted by an NRI friend of ours and we realised it could be a big money spinner. We usually sign one-year comprehensive contracts with clients with annual renewals,” says Chockalingam. Sometimes property managers also have to handle the ugly side of this business — the eviction of tenants. Property managers say they have seen more evictions from the commercial renting space than in residentials and the modus operandi is to use the lawyers representing the clients to ensure they are on the right side of the law in evictions.