The Importance of Choosing an Owner Service Provider
When thinking about how best to manage your property, you likely need to select an owner service provider (OSP) to assist you. An OSP may provide a few focused services or a wide range of services, enabling owners to have a single point of contact for most of their needs. The easiest way to understand what traditional managers do is to compare three examples of similar properties in an average coastal community. The first owner does everything on his own, the second owner uses a couple of different OSPs, and the third owner has hired a full-service vacation rental management company to be the single point of contact.
Our first example owner – Joe – owns a three bedroom home a couple blocks from the beach. Joe is retired and spends about four months a year at his vacation home. His primary residence is a three hour drive away. Joe manages most everything on his own – he has listed his home on VRBO since 1999, handles all of his email inquiries and phone calls, takes payment in the mail by check or online through Paypal, and serves as the guests’ only contact point. He contracts out to local cleaning, lawn, pool, plumbing, electric, and general contracting services. He runs his own finances and is responsible for paying his local taxes each month. He keeps certain items, like spare sheets and extra light bulbs, onsite and has guests bring their own amenities, like toilet paper, shampoo, etc. For the most part, the rental runs smoothly, save for the occasional instance when Joe’s not available to answer the phone in an emergency or there is a problem with the quality of housekeeping or pool service. Joe has plenty of time on his hands to handle all of the scheduling and has always been more of a do-it-yourself type.
The second owner – Susan – owns a three bedroom home next door to Joe. Susan spends less time at her home than Joe does at his, since she lives a couple hours flight away. Susan is an EMT and cannot be reliably available to answer emails or phone calls, so she contracted with a listing service that manages her property on VRBO, provides 24/7 phone and email support, and handles payments from guests. Susan likes that guests always can reach someone and she doesn’t have to worry about sleepless nights. She also contracts with a local tax company to handle all of her tax filings. She’s always used a tax company to do her taxes, and she likes the idea of a professional filing each month so it is accurate and verifiable. Susan uses the same local lawn service and pool company as Joe, but has a different housekeeper, plumber and electrician that she schedules herself. She’s looking for a new general contractor, since her previous contractor recently moved out of town. The rental runs smoothly, save for the occasional issue that arises when the plumber is busy or the general contractor can’t be found. Susan doesn’t mind doing a little work now and then but feels that paying for phone, email and tax service is well worth it.
The third owner – Fred – also owns a three bedroom home next door to Joe. Fred uses his home just as much as Susan uses hers, but he lives in the same town as Joe. He plans on retiring to the coastal town to live full-time, eventually. Fred used to manage his home on his own, but his regional sales rep promotion keeps him on the road most of the week, with no time to schedule any services. Fred started using a full-service vacation rental management company as his OSP. The company acts as a single contact for owners, providing a VRBO listing, phone and email services, and payment handling like a listing agent does. The company uses the same local housekeeping company, electricians and plumbers as Joe does, but the company does all of the scheduling so Fred doesn’t have to. As a full-service management company, it provides regular inspections of the home and keeps basic supplies – toilet paper, shampoo, garbage bags, and paper towels – on hand for renters. The company handles tax payments, verifies each guest’s photo ID, changes the code for the digital lock on Fred’s door after each guest and vendor visit for added security, and hires a local private security patrol on weekends and during big events. Since he is busy at work, Fred likes having a local point of contact and feels better having someone manage all aspects of his home. After all, he spent years saving enough money to afford a second home and wants to make sure it is well looked after.
Each of these homeowners has chosen a set of OSPs that work best for his or her situation. Whether a homeowner is the do-it-yourself type or wants to have a single point of contact, the combination of OSPs doesn’t change the characteristics of the respective homes. Competition among service providers is strong in the USA, and owners benefit from that competition. A single point of contact OSP simply bundles up services for owners that need more convenience.