Property Management Friend or Foe? Lets take a second to dissect the different options as it relates to property managers and vacation rental support providers and the vacation rental business. I think local property managers or service providers are critical and the only time I don't think you need one is if you are attentive to your property and live within close proximity to your property. A good property manager or support provider will be your eyes and ears and most importantly be able to respond to a guest in a time of need. When I am looking to hire a property manager or support provider in a specific area I always interview two or more groups and what I am looking for is a connection with the person that will be my direct contact because good communication is my bread and butter. I think property managers and support providers are worth their weight in gold and deserve to be compensated for their work but what I don't like is to be nickeled and dimed at every corners so find a property manager or support provider that has an all inclusive fee or negotiate one. I believe that every property manager or support provider should be checking each property prior to each guest check in and after departure. I also pay very close attention to who is inspecting the property and if the answer is the cleaning crew the interview is over.
Full Service Management
Full service property management inclusive of leasing and marketing. In this scenario a property management company will market, lease and manage your property and will expect a fee as a percentage of the leasing, will charge a cleaning fee for each guest (usually recoverable by the guest) and will sometimes charge a marketing fee or linen service fee. There can be other fees as well so expect to ask a lot of questions when interviewing a property management company because those fees can add up fast.
VR Owner Support Service Provider
As an alternative to hiring a full service property manager you can also consider hiring a company who provides vacation rental support services and will assist with check-in and check-out services and can coordinate cleaning. Hiring a Support Service Provider leaves the leasing in the owners hands and is a more cost effective way to run your property from a distance knowing that you have someone taking care of your home and guests locally. You will usually pay a flat fee and will also pay a cleaning fee (usually recoverable by the guest). I recently discovered Urban Bellhop who provides this service for a flat fee and if they are not servicing your area check your local area for alternatives to hiring a traditional property management company.
What a Local Management Company or VR Owner Support Service Provider can Provide to an Owner:
The most important part of having a local manager or support provider is for emergencies. My property experienced a tropical storm and my manger was amazing when it came to sending out emails to my guests to keep them informed of the situation.
Managers and support providers have a good sense of the local market and rates. I personally like to do my own leasing but don't mind sharing the task with my manager. I also like that they have a pulse on the local market and can help me determine when to push rate.
Repair & Maintenance
Property managers and support providers have connections to a great group of resources and, in my experience, have been able to get plumbers, a handyman, etc. out to my property at any time because of those relationships. These connections get me preferred pricing and the comfort of knowing that a trusted vendor is doing the work and not someone I picked out of the yellow pages. I also like when managers have standard maintenance practices like window washing, carpet cleaning, tile cleaning, etc. at least twice a year.
When you hire a property manager or support provider you do not have to coordinate cleaning. I would feel very uncomfortable doing this form a distance without the backing of a manager coordinating the process. The only way I would hire a cleaner is if I self managed and if I lived in close proximity so that I could clean if the house keeper did not show up.
This is less important to me because I use quickbooks for my accounting but for those that are not interested in a hands on approach a manager will provide a full accounting at the end of the year which makes it easy when you meet with your accountant at tax time. You will also receive a monthly statement which is a very good way to keep track of your property financially. A vacation rental service provider will not provide this information.
This is one of the most important practices. I put a lot into my properties and I want to make sure that my guests get that wow factor the first time they walk in the door. It is important to me that my manager or support provider is inspecting the property before a guest arrives (arranging pillows blankets or anything else that is not to perfection). Upon departure I like to make sure that my manager or support provider inspects for any damage or missing items.Home Checks
I request that my managers support providers do weekly home checks, when the property is not occupied, to make sure that there are no issues like water leaks, the heater is off, etc.
So after reviewing I would definitely say managers in any form are a friend and in most instances a trusted ally!