While some vacation rental homeowners may wonder why they should have a property manager and if it’s worth the added cost, those who have decided to hire one say they find that with a seasoned professional, they have a greater peace of mind, more revenue, more expertise, and better guest care.
Property managers assist homeowners with marketing, home care, guest service, and arranging housekeeping, according to TurnKey Vacation Rentals Charleston Sales Director Karen Keys. With marketing, a great property manager will create and manage the listing content to promote your home and manage distribution channels. Additionally, property management companies like TurnKey Vacation Rentals complete basic maintenance work at no additional charge and will arrange for outside vendors for specialty care needs.
Leif Kristjansen, founder of blog FiveYearFIREscape, attributes his vacation rental ownership as the key reason he was able to retire in his early thirties. He told TurnKey Vacation Rentals that having a property manager is key to his success and allows him to enjoy the benefits of his additional income without feeling like he has a full-time job.
“I always knew I was going to want to have a manager since I didn’t want to be accessible to tenants all the time,” he said. “I tried without a manager for a little bit but I got a call once on Christmas day about a backed-up toilet and I knew I never wanted to be the point of contact again.”
Here’s why vacation rental homeowners benefit from having a property manager.
Property managers and management companies are typically experts in both local knowledge and industry-wide trends. Kristjansen said a good property manager can both prevent and fix issues.
“They can prevent issues by knowing how to screen tenants and giving reasonable recommendations for repairs,” he said. “And they can fix issues by knowing people who can fix everything at a reasonable price since they have been through it. Good managers can find you a good deal or a good contractor.”
Julie McCoy, owner-operator of 5 vacation rental homes in California and Tennessee and a real estate consultant for Money Done Right, said property managers have a greater scope of knowledge about intangible things like what amenities guests prefer, or which types of guests most frequently visit the area, than the homeowner would, because they manage a variety of homes.
“A property manager will obviously know their market in ways that the typical homeowner won’t,” she said. “They’ll know where the most desirable locations are, the best things to do, and what guests expect when they stay there. They should then be able to communicate this knowledge to their clients so that each property performs at its highest level.”
Nick Disney, a vacation rental owner in San Antonio, Texas, said he can trust his property manager to make educated decisions about how to price and rent his home.
“The biggest one for me is knowing the local rental seasons which helps you to know when to have higher or lower rental rates based on demand,” he said. “That increases my overall revenue. They also have all the proper forms for rental agreements and waivers.”
It’s important to keep in mind that not all property managers have a high level industry expertise, according to Keys. “The majority will, of course, have valuable local knowledge, however, hiring a team that employs the best of the best industry experts, means those experts are working for you, the owner,” she said.
Vacation rental homeowners who partner with property management companies like TurnKey Vacation Rentals can expect to additionally have revenue analysts, marketing experts, and individuals that optimize everything for them—on top of the traditional work that a single property manager does.
“We also sync listings to 50+ marketing channels which would be far too costly and labor intensive for individuals,” Keys said. “Plus, homes are listed on our own site that gets 20% of our booking volume.”
Better Guest Care
Vacation rental homeowners can count on a property manager to provide dedicated customer service to guests throughout their entire stay.
TurnKey Vacation Rentals, for example, offers 24/7 guest service from a team that is awake, answering the phone, in case of any possible emergencies or questions.
McCoy said her property manager is essential in helping her vet local vendors and housekeepers, so she knows any work getting done at her property is top quality. She also particularly relies on her property manager’s local knowledge because her property is in a rural area.
“I can count on my manager having the most up-to-date information on road conditions, local events, and local hidden gems they can share with guests that would be difficult for me to stay on top of,” she said. “This enables me to trust that my guests are receiving a great customer service experience, in addition to knowing that my manager can help facilitate any service calls or repairs necessary.”
With better guest care, comes better 5-star reviews—which leads to more bookings and an increase in revenue down the road.
McCoy said a good manager that knows and cares about guest expectations, the local market, and the best marketing techniques, can give homeowners an edge in their performance on the major listing sites and lead to better reviews. “If your market has particular quirks that require a more hands-on approach, or you’re unable to be consistently available to respond to guest communications, a property manager can be the difference between success and failure,” she said.
Keys said that although not all managers are as savvy as others, good property managers should have a keen eye on market pricing trends that can constantly be changing.
“By regularly evaluating rates, a property manager can dynamically adjust to capture more bookings and secure the highest revenue possible,” she said. “ Be very wary of a manager that sets prices for the year ahead and has an owner sign off, then they never look at them again.”
TurnKey Vacation Rentals makes sure homes are listed on 50+ sites, to ensure revenue comes from every possible avenue.
“We offer guest incentives and discounts to add a day to their stay to fill holes between reservations—little things to capture more rent value for the owner,” Keys said. “Also, prompt inquiry response 24/7 helps yield a higher conversion rate, therefore more inquiries confirm a reservation.”
Greater Peace of Mind
Kristjansen said peace of mind was the most important benefit of hiring a property manager.
“I don’t want to have to worry about dealing with issues at random times,” he said. “I have my own life to worry about and that’s plenty hard. I will happily take home a little less money to not have to think about my houses.”
McCoy also told TurnKey Vacation Rentals that the peace of mind she has from hiring property managers allowed her to stress less about properties that she owns remotely.
“There’s a lot of peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is close by to take care of any immediate needs, handle small repairs, and alert me if anything goes wrong,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about vetting local service people or arranging their access to the house, and my guests appreciate the personal touch of having a local expert close by to answer questions.”
Additionally, property managers can quickly and efficiently respond to emergencies.
“Last winter my propane ran out, leaving my guests with no hot water or heat, and the propane supplier would not be able to refill it until the following day,” McCoy said. “My property manager was able to offer my guests a different place to stay—one they also managed—until the issue was resolved, something I never could’ve done easily.”
Communication is key, according to Keys, and an owner will only have peace of mind if they have a property manager that excels at communicating.
“A property manager should provide 24/7 service, so owners never have to worry about their guests getting service anytime for any reason,” she said. “Owners should feel confident that they are informed of all the work their property manager is doing, not just saying they are doing it.”
Disney said that overall, hiring a property manager took the “job” out of owning a vacation rental.
“At first I wanted to do it all myself, but now that I have changed my mind on that, I am so much happier,” he said. “My property is rented more often which brings in more income, but the best thing is that I no longer have to deal with all the things that go along with being the property manager. I bought the home to have a vacation rental, not another job, now I just let the property manager do her job and I’m free to do whatever I want.”