The Birth of “Yabonza”: A Platform That’s Putting Property Managers (And Their Hefty Fees) On Notice
Yabonza gives you a chance to transform the way you look at your property investment.
I learned the hard way so that you don’t have to.
By Mark Trowell, Founder, and CEO
Just like many other business ideas, the story of Yabonza started with a personal tale. This tale starts with an unhappy landlord (me) that wanted more visibility and transparency on what was happening with their investment property.,
It involved financial loss and lots of emotional turmoil. Thankfully, that loss gave me the drive to look at property management from a different perspective and then to create what I believe will disrupt property management globally.
I’ll get to how in a moment. But first, let me take you back in time so you know what inspired yabonza.
I was a landlord myself. And I experienced plenty of issues during that time. My biggest grievance was with the lack of transparency across the property management industry.
In fact, there was one incident that was a major turning point for me. I had contracted a reputable local property manager, to manage my investment property. I was relieved, my busy lifestyle and the nature of my work meant it wasn’t easy for me to stay close to the property or do any sort of self-management. It was good to have someone take care of this for me. Except they didn’t. After several months I returned to my investment property only to find a series of major problems that I needed to fix. Turns out, my agents simply weren’t up to the task.
I eventually left the industry and entered a role with an Australian Investment bank. In this role, I worked primarily in the technology sector as it related to property.
After 20 years, I noticed something distressing. Technology had advanced enormously, but the property management industry hadn’t changed.
Landlords were still overworked and time poor. The industry still focused on the needs of the agents rather than the people who employed them.
As I had experienced, these agents are usually the source of the problems that the landlords have to deal with. They don’t have time to communicate properly and aren’t transparent. As a result, landlords don’t have enough knowledge about what’s happening with their properties.
Many of the people I spoke to worried about whether they’d actually get their rent money paid on time. I knew the feeling well because it had happened to me plenty of times. As a landlord, I’d have to constantly chase agents for the rents that my tenants had paid. Often, it would take two weeks or more to get that money, even when the tenants paid on time.
To make matters worse, I wouldn’t always get the full amount, so, I’d have to pull up statements and ask questions to figure out where the money went.
There’s a complete lack of visibility. Yet landlords pay agents enormous fees for their services.
So many of the landlords that I’d interacted with during my career experienced the same problems.
That’s when I started realising that the way property managers work is broken. It’s also when I started looking towards the future and how I could make property management better globally.
The Tipping Point
A particularly bad tenant experience encapsulated all of these frustrations. This tenant didn’t pay rent for months. They told the agent that a medical emergency prevented him from paying rent. And fair enough, I’m a compassionate guy, however, the agent should have followed the arrears process and communicated these issues directly to me in real-time. He didn’t.
This highlights the exact issues that I’d already identified. Here was an agent offering no visibility to their client. He didn’t tell me that the tenant had money issues. I had no idea that he was sick. All I knew was that the money I should have received wasn’t in my bank account.
In the end, the tenant packed up and moved overseas… without settling debts, of course.
The consequence: Because the agent wasn’t transparent and didn’t follow regulations, I had a £10,000 bill that I couldn’t collect on. The tenant was halfway around the planet and I had no way of recovering my loss.
But here’s the worst part…
I didn’t know about it until it all came to a head. The agent didn’t issue any notices about the rental payments and I was in the dark. The lack of visibility cost me an enormous amount of money.
In all my previous roles, the focus was on improving the profits and services to agents. Nothing was being done to solve the problem of the landlord or the tenant.
My epiphany came when somebody shared an article with me relating to a new real estate platform. The service allowed people to compare real estate agents quickly.
They’d raised money for a platform that essentially acts as a TripAdvisor for real estate agents.
But it’s not the problem that most landlords need to deal with. It didn’t do anything to solve the issues that I and many others experienced on a daily basis.
It did nothing to transform the property management aspect of being a landlord.
Surely, a platform overlayed with qualified property people would solve these issues and would prove equally popular?
That’s when I realised that the industry hasn’t really changed in 50 years yet we’re fast approaching an age where technology can do many things that humans can do.
And technology can do it better, faster and cheaper.
We don’t have to do things the traditional way anymore.
We had the means to actually help the market and the people in it. Both landlords and tenants could benefit from the right platform.
But it didn’t exist yet.
So I started thinking of all the ways we could give them better transparency and control by using technology and freeing up the ‘people’ to do what they do best – manage relationships – better personal service.
Imagining the Possibilities
Imagine a property management platform that allows you to integrate and automate the majority of your processes.
This platform would offer unparalleled visibility. All the information about your property at your fingertips whenever you need it. There’s no need to schedule appointments with the property manager or rifle through tons of paperwork.
Just jump online and everything is at your disposal. You can even check on things in the middle of the night if you want.
Imagine a property management platform that’s actually an asset manager at your fingertips, offering concrete suggestions on how to increase your ROI.
Often, it’s these little things that can help you reap huge benefits in the long run. Let me give you an example.
A bathroom renovation can have a dramatic effect on the appeal of your property. It can mean a big jump in the rental value without costing you big dollars. It’s also better for the long-term yield, and improves the tenant’s experience, too.
The asset manager can evaluate this and connect you with the right people to help.
And this stretches to almost every element of your property.
Imagine a platform that allows you to take proactive action with issues rather than a reactive property manager who just puts out fires. Here’s an example of what I was thinking…
Let’s say that you have a stove that requires constant repairs. The asset manager helps you to figure out if replacing it is a better option.
Maybe the property has a leaking roof or another chronic maintenance issue. With the asset manager, you can measure the pros and cons of repeated quick fixes versus a full repair.
Imagine a property management platform that offered you truly fascinating insights you probably never considered.
What if the platform will even let you take advantage of the data generated by other landlords across Australia. For example, you’ll see information such as which household appliances perform well and which break down often. Asset managers analyse this information and push the results to you. They’ll tell you what to buy and how it will affect your yield.
The Birth of Yabonza
Since a platform as I imagined didn’t exist, I went about building it.
Yabonza is the result.
Our platform is a new way of handling property management. The technology does the work in the background, freeing up the Asset Managers time to treat your property as an asset that you can develop and manage proactively. One point of contact for your entire portfolio – no matter where the properties are in Australia. No more managing multiple agents across the country.
Plus, our high degree of automation allows us to save money and pass the savings on to you in the form of low management fees. All of this comes with complete transparency.
Thanks to modern technology and fresh ideas, smart property management is here. Click here to request a demonstration today.
Mark Trowell – CEO & Founder, yabonza.