South Okanagan Property Management expanding its services up the valley
Ashley Lutke-Schipholt has been working as a property manager in Osoyoos since 2010, but until May 2021 she always worked for other companies.
Last year she took the plunge and started South Okanagan Property Rentals, her own business, based in an office on Spartan Drive in Osoyoos.
“My dad has been an entrepreneur my whole life, so I guess I always thought I’d go the business route somehow,” she said, explaining her career choice. “There’s not a ton of work in Osoyoos, so I just kind of created my own.”
Originally from Peace River, Alberta, Lutke-Schipholt completed a Bachelor of Business degree in 2008 in Kelowna and soon after started a cleaning company in Osoyoos. She then started working in strata management and obtained the appropriate licensing. Before starting out on her own, she worked on property management for other companies, the longest of which was RE/MAX.
Her future plan, she said, is to grow her business. That’s already started. Initially most of her clients were in Osoyoos with a smaller number in Oliver. Recently she announced she’s expanding her range also to include Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, and Naramata.
“All of the South Okanagan, basically Peachland down,” she said, describing the area now served. “We just rented our first property in Summerland, so that was pretty exciting.”
Lutke-Schipholt’s company offers full management to property owners seeking to rent their houses or condominiums to residential renters.
The owner pays a fee based on the monthly rent. The tenants are screened but pay no fee.
Her company evaluates the property first and gives the owner an estimate of the rent they can expect to receive. She advertises the property, shows it to prospective tenants, screens them, collects the rent, and pays the owner electronically each month, deals with any issues that arise, and also handles move-out inspections.
For the screening of tenants, her company does a telephone interview even before they are shown the property to get a feel for why they are moving and how many people will be living there. After seeing the property and deciding to rent, they are then screened through an application company that checks credit and references.
The most common reason renters might be turned down is for lacking sufficient credit. A minimum credit score of 600 is required.
“We like to foster healthy relationships between property owners and tenants,” she said. “That’s basically what we do.”
Some residential tenancy laws lean in favour of tenants’ rights, and some tenants may use these to gain advantage.
“You have to make sure everybody is well informed,” she said. “Troubles can arise just because owners don’t know things.”
Properties often require maintenance, and Lutke-Schipholt knows all the relevant trades people and is able to handle it.
Rentals are advertised separately as long-term or short-term. The long-term rentals are those of a year or more. The short-term rentals are typically seasonal, often during the winter when owners may head to a snowbird destination and want to rent out their property while they’re away.
“The long-term rental market is competitive,” said Lutke-Schipholt. “It’s difficult for people to find long-term housing.”
The prospects are better for people seeking winter housing when there are more rentals available.
“I think that’s really good for the economy too because it helps in the off-season for Osoyoos,” she said.
Rental properties are seldom vacant for long.
“For long-term rentals if the unit is priced well, it will be gone in the next couple of weeks for sure,” said Lutke-Schipholt.
Property managers at her company are limited to no more than 100 properties per manager in order to ensure quality service.
An article on the company’s website points out why the number of units managed is important. Too few could mean the manager is new to the business and inexperienced or has lost business due to unsatisfied clients. Too many could mean he or she can’t provide timely and effective service.
So bringing on another manager is going to be key to her company’s expansion, Lutke-Schipholt says.
Matthew Laydon has been working with her recently as an unlicensed administration support, but in February he was on the verge of taking his property management exam to qualify as a licensed property manager.
Pam Thompson has been working with Lutke-Schipholt in recent years as an administration manager and unlicensed property management assistant.
Lutke-Schipholt also highlights two other team members – Sandra Elke, “a really great bookkeeper,” and Amanda Prowse, who works on marketing remotely from Mexico and is “awesome.”
This team has helped her with some of the challenges of starting out on her own, which include meeting the administrative requirements of the British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), the provincial Crown agency that regulates the financial sector and real estate.
“It’s been a learning curve, but now I’m kind of in the groove and it’s going well,” Lutke-Schipholt said.
Story and photos by Richard McGuire
South Okanagan Property Management
103 – 7611 Spartan Drive
Osoyoos, BC V0H 1V0