Choosing the right partner to help you manage your vacation home is vital for maximising revenue – as well as for your peace of mind.
Every home and every home owner are different. Naturally, this means that what each home owner needs from their property manager is different too.
However, there are a few questions that every home owner should ask before choosing a property manager – and that every property manager should be able to answer!
Ten questions to ask any potential property manager
The White Rose Villas team talks you through the ten questions you should ask of any property manager with whom you are thinking of working.
- How do you expect my home to perform?
You should be seeking a realistic but enthusiastic answer to this question.
Don’t be fooled by wild statements about huge returns that the property manager can’t back up with evidence about how other similar properties in the area are performing. But don’t settle for overly conservative estimates either.
If the answer you receive differs greatly from the estimations offered by your realtor when you purchased the property, ask the property manager to explain why this might be.
Most importantly, how excited is your potential property manager about marketing your property? This is important, because you want your property manager to believe in your home’s potential and to relish the opportunity to help you achieve it.
- What can you tell me about the local market?
Your property manager should be able to discuss recent regulations, trends, rentable values and what potential renters expect.
If they can’t talk confidently about these topics with you, be wary. Sense check their answers with what you’ve heard from the other property managers you’ve interviewed.
Once you have spoken to three or four potential partners, you should have a good overview of what the real picture is and who is on top of their brief.
- What regulations do I need to be aware of?
Of course, you can research federal, state and local regulations on sites like ours. But you do need to ask this question of any potential property manager too.
A good property manager is not only up to speed with all the regulations that apply to their business and your rental property, they will be able to offer advice about how you can ensure you comply – and (hopefully) be able to explain how their services help you do this.
- How will you market my property?
You want a good mix of marketing approaches in answer to this question. It’s so easy to get bamboozled by marketing speak but, at a minimum, you need to look for:
- Listing on your property manager’s own website
- Potential for online bookings
- Investment into online marketing and search engine optimisation
- Database of previous guests with a good track record of repeat bookings to whom regular marketing communications are sent
- Listings on major vacation rental sites, including: AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, etc.
- Partnerships with other vacation companies, e.g. James Villas, etc
- Social media promotions
Every property manager will offer a different combination of these marketing approaches. It’s worth spending time to talk through a tactical plan for the first six to twelve months, including agreeing any promotions you might want to run together.
- How will guests be able to book my property?
You’ll know from your own experience that guests don’t make vacation plans within normal office hours. How available is your property manager to answer guests’ questions during the evenings and weekends? How quickly do they respond to guest enquiries?
There is an easy way to test the validity of each potential property manager’s claims in this regard.
- How do you price your services? What fees can I expect to pay?
Property managers usually charge anything from between ten percent to twenty-five percent of rental income – so you may find some very varied answers to this question.
However, it is vitally important to consider what you are getting for that percentage charge. It’s not always easy to compare like with like. Ten percent of hardly any bookings could be worse value than twenty-five percent of nearly full occupancy.
You first step should be to clearly define where you need help and how you need the property manager to add value. Then you can really make a judgement about whether you are getting good value for money. Or, more specifically, the right value for your money.
- What services are included in your management fees?
We’ve already touched on this and why it is important. Ask potential property managers to supply a full price list, so you can understand their charges and ask them to explain how and when they might apply.
Here at White Rose Villas, we offer three different approaches to fees – you can pay as you go, opt for a package which covers all the essentials, or choose an all-inclusive arrangement with us. What is best for you will very much depend on how much help and support you need from your property manager and it what areas, e.g. marketing, maintenance, housekeeping, guest relationship management, etc.
Not everyone needs help with everything – so find a property manager with a package to suit you.
- How will I be charged for these services?
This is important for your planning; you need to know how your property manager is going to help you achieve your rental income goals.
Does your potential property manager require you to open an escrow account? If so, what amount of funds do they expect to hold in there? How frequently does your property manager pay out income? Ask them to show you some typical monthly statements, so you can see how costs and income will be reported to you.
- Do you manage local taxes for your homeowners?
Here in Florida properties are subject to a “tourist tax” as well as sales tax. These are paid to local and state authorities respectively.
A good property manager will manage these tax payments on your behalf; automatically applying them to guest bookings and forwarding payments to the relevant authorities. It is worth checking whether this is the case, and how the property manager proposes to administer these payments.
- What sort of reporting can I expect?
As a vacation property owner, you need to know exactly where you stand with regards to the rental income your property is generating for you. This requires clear monthly statements at the very least.
In the longer term, what does your property manager offer to help you keep track of your property’s performance? Here at White Rose Rentals, we schedule an annual review with each of our home owners. This gives us a chance to discuss how your home is performing against your expectations, how we are doing, and what suggestions we have that can help you maximise bookings and revenue.
We think these are the ten base questions you should ask any potential property manager before deciding who to sign with. You’re sure to have your own to add to this list as well. Let us know what they are below!