Strata inspectors occupy an interesting place in the strata world. They go from strata managers, office to office, inspecting the books and records of various strata bodies and reporting their findings to prospective purchasers.
It’s an enormously important and undervalued role as very often the strata inspector’s report is the purchaser’s first, and only, introduction to what it’s really like to own and live in strata.
In the course of their work they see the inner workings of each strata scheme and each strata manager. They are a good barometer for what’s going on in the industry and at the moment the temperate gauge is red-hot.
Inspectors are reporting enormous pressure on management fees and some desperate tactics to hold on to income, particularly in the areas of postage and stationery. In the age of electronic data, smart phones and mobile scanners; strata inspectors, or more to the point the purchasing public, no longer have to pay $1 per page for the photocopy of the big fat defects report and managers are going to extraordinary lengths to hold on to that income.
One manager has glued a metal bar across the USB socket on the computer made available for searches to stop downloads. Another is trying to charge inspectors for using their own phones to take pictures of documents. A very large management company has even taken to sending separate voting forms and envelopes for each of the office bearers positions to rack up the disbursements!
These tactics belie the sustainability of the traditional strata managers business model. The challenge remains in articulating a value proposition to owners that wins and retains business. One things for sure, it’s not being a stationer.