Questions to Ask Your Property Manager

 
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There is always a certain anxiety that goes along with choosing a property manager whether it's your first vacation rental, you own multiple rentals or you are leaving one management company and hiring a new one. It is especially important to pick a manager you trust when typically you are not living near your vacation home.
 

Below are some questions that we consider important to ask yourself prior to choosing to use your property as a vacation rental:


Are my expectations reasonable?
 
Are like properties renting for the same amount that I want my property to make? Look at the calendars to see if they are full at the price you think your property should rent for.
 
Am I comfortable with strangers in my ‘home’? There will be wear and tear. Guests appreciate a small amount of personality in a rental home but they also like to envision it as their home during the time they are staying there.
 
Do you expect to have a positive cash flow? This isn’t usually possible in today's economy. Most owners who rent their property are looking to offset the costs of ownership. If you need the property to make a certain amount of money each month, make sure you have money put away for the unexpected expense.

Are you expecting a full calendar in November (off season) or in February (peak season) if you own in Hawaii or many other places for that matter? There will be times of the year that it is going to be very difficult to fill without heavy discounts because supply of vacation properties is higher than demand. What is the management company doing to stand out from the crowd?

There are a variety of fees that can come up. You should be prepared to ask a new manager about marketing fees, advertising fees, cleaning fees, bill paying fees, etc.

 

Here are some questions to ask when hiring a manager:
 

Do you as a management company measure yourself? 
Are there comment cards and/or solicitation for guest reviews? Reviews are critical in marketing properties, and there are many guests who will not stay at a property, that does not have reviews. You, as an owner, should be seeing what guests are saying about your property and you should want to work with a company that is accountable.

Does the management company contact the guest after they arrive? The better reservation software can send out an email to each guest the day after they arrive.

Can I see a sample of real owner statements? Do they charge fees on top of their commission?

How does the management company analyze prices? How often do they change prices and seasons? A full calendar can indicate a too low pricing strategy.
 
What is your marketing philosophy? Are they using up-to-date technology and marketing techniques?  Do they charge the owner for marketing and/or advertising?

Do you charge the owner for travel agent commission or any other types of commissions?

Do you charge the owner for any cleaning costs?

Is there a linen charge?

Do you charge a fee for paying bills for the property on our behalf?

Do you pay Hawaii General Excise and Transient Accommodation taxes and do you charge for the service? How often are taxes paid?

How is maintenance charged? Is there an hour charge minimum?

Do you inspect the properties prior to guest arrival?

Is there a charge if the owner wants to use their own property or have their friends or family there?

What extra costs will show up during the year?


The important thing to remember is if your property is well maintained and you have a management company you trust, you should be able to cover and exceed your basic costs (without a mortgage) and enjoy your home-away-from-home while, hopefully, building equity in your little piece of paradise. A good management company will be able to do that for you; a great management company will exceed your expectations and will be very realistic in their promises.