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Edward Acker
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Property managing for STR… self managing vs online or local companies

Edward Acker
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Posted Jan 29 2024, 20:58

Hey all, wife and I are getting into our first STR in Bonita Springs. Wondering if we should learn the bumps in the road now and try to self manage with some recommended tools or to put our property in the hands of a Vacasa/Evolve/Awning type company or maybe a professional local outfit? All opinions welcome… TIA

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John Underwood
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John Underwood
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 05:35

vote for self management. Once you get going with a great cleaning person to handle turnovers you can easily manage with the Vrbo and Airbnb apps.

Also I've heard bad things about Vacasa and the like. If you don't self manage I would get a reputable local PM.

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Conrad Legé
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Conrad Legé
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 06:25

Self manage for 6 months, learn the business. You’ll then have a good grasp of how you want your property managed and set better expectations should you still want to outsource.

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Replied Jan 30 2024, 07:05

I live in Bonita and have great cleaning crews. Manage the property yourself and save the 20% fee. It's very simply when you have one unit. If you are not local it can draw other issues but open to having a conversation if you need references or advice. 

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John Mausteller
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John Mausteller
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 07:17

Self Manage! As everyone has said.. Once your get your systems in place and a season under your belt. Everything moves so smoothly and you are saving a good chunk of money from paying a management company. If you do go with a management company - I would interview many.. Vacasa, and the likes - but also local "co hosts" who manage a portfolio of properties. From my experience - it is these local co hosts who will pay the most attention to your STR and give the guests the best experience. Bonita Springs looks beautiful and I am sure you will crush it! If you go the self manage route - list anywhere you can. Defineatly Airbnb and VRBO - but also local sites like FloridaRentals.com , Florida Rental By Owners - etc! Good luck!!

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Collin H.
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Collin H.
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 08:19

You would be far better off doing just about anything than hiring Evolve or Vacasa. They offer the worst of both worlds - you will still be managing your home, and they will be taking 40 percent of your revenue (despite what their marketing materials tell you).  

Self manage if you have the time, interest, and energy.  But I wouldn't buy anything where the numbers don't work if I had to hire a local PM.  You may get sick of managing and want someone else to do it, at some point.

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Peter Davis
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Peter Davis
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 09:24

Hello Edward,

I'll pile on and say try self-managing and see how it goes. I sold a home in Estero (just north of Bonita Springs) to a client and he's self-managing it as a rental and it's working out really well for him. With all the online resources available the front/back office part of it is pretty seamless once you get it down. Then having a good on-the-ground team is the key factor to rounding out the process. Good luck!

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Erin Wamsley
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Erin Wamsley
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 11:34

I self-manage an AirBnb and find it quite easy with their platform... With automated scheduling and messaging tools, it pretty much runs itself. I find their fees reasonable, and in 3 years have never run into the kind of "horror story" scenarios that people complain about online. You or someone definitely have to be readily available to deal with any problems, but after the first few months you should have enough of the initial kinks worked out so that guests rarely contact you during their stay.

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Chris Plummer
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Chris Plummer
Replied Jan 30 2024, 11:52

Self Manage for all the previously stated reasons and this very important tid bit - if you self manage you own your reviews, most management companies will take the reviews with them if you cancel the service - look into this for sure before you sign any contract.

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Michael Baum
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Michael Baum
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 11:56

Hey @Edward Acker, another vote for self management.

Avoid Vacasa and Evolve. Neither have the best rep and will often lowball your listing just to get bookings. Even if it is well below market.

Also, if you go with them, they own the listing and the reviews. If you decide to go another direction, you have to start over.

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Edward Acker
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Edward Acker
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 14:41
Quote from @Michael Baum:

Hey @Edward Acker, another vote for self management.

Avoid Vacasa and Evolve. Neither have the best rep and will often lowball your listing just to get bookings. Even if it is well below market.

Also, if you go with them, they own the listing and the reviews. If you decide to go another direction, you have to start over.

Do you use any online tools to help with pricing? Pricelabs, hospitable, etc?

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Bryan Vukelich
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Bryan Vukelich
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 15:30

Hi @Edward Acker - I also recommend self management.  Waikiki is a great spot for data as there are so many similar units in buildings either managed by the hotel operator, the owner, or a 3rd party management company.  From many conversations with investors and financial statements I've reviewed - a quality, self managed unit will greatly outperform units managed by hotels, and consistently outperform (sometime by significant margins), units managed by 3rd party management companies.  

But I also second the comment by @Collin H. - best to have a contingency plan in place if self management doesn't work for you.

Wish you well  

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Andrew Steffens
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Andrew Steffens
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 16:05

Depending on your lifestyle.  We are a local PM HQ in Tampa but also manage as far south as Naples.  If you have the capability to answer calls at any time of the day potentially and do not mind catering to guests, managing cleaners, and contacting contractors, self management is a fine option.  If you are a very busy person, then it may not be for you.  If you go the PM route, I would avoid the national as well as remote managers like the plague.  Find a good local PM with a good reputation.  I would suggest not a super small 1/2 man show with less than 20 listings, but nobody with more than 150 listings.

There are some other advantages to using a PM - one of which is reach.  We partner with 15+ booking channels some of which include Marriott Homes and Villas, JetBlue and Allegiant Airlines, Airbnb/VRBO (of course), Booking.com, and soon Hyatt and AmexTravel.  Many of these platforms are only accessibly with PM's with 50+ doors.  The extra exposure leads to increased occupancy and can offset the fees.

In the end it is a personal decision but do your homework and avoid the big companies.  Good luck!

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Michael Baum
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Michael Baum
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Replied Jan 30 2024, 17:49

Hey @Edward Acker, we don't on the lake house. I get a lot of flack for it. People calling me all sorts of names, but our market is smaller. It is pretty easy for me to price it accurately by checking all the other lake rentals.

I do recommend Pricelabs for pricing. I helped my neighbor set it up on her first STR and it works great in that area. There are over 2000 rentals there. My area, about 50 lake houses.

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Erika Albert
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Erika Albert
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Replied Jan 31 2024, 04:57

self-manage or local company - depending on your personal situation - amount of time you have/strengths in self-management, financial situation, tax implications

Skip the big management co's - like any big biz they have one priority in mind

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Kelly O'Keefe
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Kelly O'Keefe
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Replied Jan 31 2024, 07:01

I also recommend self managing if possible. You have the potential to make more money and there are more tax benefits as well. 

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James Carlson
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James Carlson
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Replied Jan 31 2024, 08:45

@Edward Acker

Another vote for self-management. All but a few of our STR clients in Colorado manage themselves. A little more work, obviously, but a lot of money saved. (Short-term rental management's gonna take 25-30% in my neck of the woods.)

Get acquainted with Turno to coordinate cleaning, PriceLabs for dynamic pricing, maybe Guesty as well, and then grab a smart lock that connects to your phone. 

Good luck!

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Sarah Kensinger
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Sarah Kensinger
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Replied Jan 31 2024, 10:50

All depends on your goals and if self-management is for you. Some people find they just don't like hosting a STR, or it takes far more time than what they have. Definitely don't go with Evolve or Vacasa! If you need a PM company you want one that is local...like @Andrew Steffens

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Andrew Steffens
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Andrew Steffens
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Replied Jan 31 2024, 11:57
Quote from @Sarah Kensinger:

All depends on your goals and if self-management is for you. Some people find they just don't like hosting a STR, or it takes far more time than what they have. Definitely don't go with Evolve or Vacasa! If you need a PM company you want one that is local...like @Andrew Steffens


 Thanks so much Sarah :)

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Brooklyn McCarty
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Brooklyn McCarty
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Replied Feb 9 2024, 05:26

You can def self manage. I would start with reading the BP book by Avery Carl called Short Term Rental, Long Term Wealth. It is truly a guide for self managing at a distance. 

Avoid those third party management companies. No one is going to care for your place like you and they are going to charge anywhere from 15-30% commission. Put that money back into your pocket and reinvest it.