Experience w/Evolve Rental Management vs. Other Options

24 Replies

Looking at potentially using Evolve to list and manage my STR. Does anyone have any experience or thoughts about them? Does it save you money in the long run instead of listing on multiple sites yourself? Is it more convenient to have one calendar for all sites they Iist your STR on? Anything better out there?

Thank you,

Susan

I use Craigslist to list my 22 STRs.  It's free.

As far as calendars go, I have a sheet of posterboard with 22 lines going across.  One line for each address.  I have vertical lines in groups of 7, that represents weeks.  It's a 22 x 35 grid.  Any information goes on with a post it note (who is in a property, what needs cleaned, who has reserved a property, what is ready to rent, etc.)

I use them for my harder to rent home. They do ok, but the numbers are nowhere near what they advertise, I promise you.

@Susan Ticson   I have used Evolve for 3 years now and my quick answer to your question is, yes they provide value for what they charge...the question is, if what they are providing is valuable to you specifically.  They basically handle everything up until the guest checks in for a 13% fee (10% Evolve and 3% for Stripe payment processing). They have a nice homeowner portal and take care of a lot of the heavy lifting on the booking side of things.  I liked using them because it was a good combination of time I had to invest in my VR with what they do and saves the other 8-10% in revenue from a full turnkey provider.

They are not doing anything 'magical' however, they simply list your home on VRBO/HA/Airbnb/Flipkey/TripAdvisor and they handle all the intake.  They do pay for the high-quality pictures for your home and write up the 'copy' used to try and promote the rental.  They provide $1M in liability coverage and they are available as a buffer between you and any guests you do not want to deal with directly.

For my new property, I will be doing it all myself so I have a true comparison of what I'm getting out of it.  My biggest issue with Evolve over the last few years is how big they have gotten and some of the growing pains associated with that.  They have their own dynamic pricing model they are rolling out as well which I'm still up in the air on also. 

Hope that helps, message me directly if you have any specific questions. 

Cheers!

If you don’t self manage you’re losing money

Hi  @Susan Ticson , I do not have any personal experience with Evolve but there are other smaller "Marketing & Booking" services out there if you are worried about your property not receiving the attention it deserves from a large company like Evolve. 

One thing you should understand about Evolve is that THEY own the listings that advertise your property. So if you use them and then some day wish to either handle your properties yourself or have someone else handle them you'll have to start over with your own brand new listings on the listing sites. That may not be an issue for you, but I'd hate for my property to lose any reviews that the Evolve listings might receive and also have repeat guests not know how to contact you if they want to book a return trip if the original (Evolve) listing that they booked from is no longer advertised.

Best wishes!

@Valerie Rogers If it we’re me I’d want to start from scratch I’m sure they’re leaving folks with some less than desirable reviews along the way.

@Lucas Carl I've seen you make the statement a few times that if you don't self manage then you'll lose money. I've also seen many people say that you can make 2-3xs more with STR compared to traditional rentals. If it's 2-3xs more, then wouldn't you still be making money even when you take into account property management fees? I'm curious because I'm looking into turning a property into a STR but it is long distance and I don't know if I want the time commitment of managing it myself. Thanks for your insight!

@Andrew Chan I look at it as paying someone to do a job you can do yourself. Only you’ll do a way better job. Yes Evolve is only 10% but that is a whole different ball game than 10% on a LTR. 

VRs are a butts in the seats game. Elvolve will put significantly less butts in your seats. What’s the point in charging extra for tickets if no one comes to the game? 

Happy to get on a call anytime. I manage 5 VRs from a distance with 85% + occupancy with a day job and I’m an idiot. 

@Andrew Chan 2-3x is about right, but it takes more than 3x the amount of time to run a STR than it does a traditional LTR in an average month. There is probably more than 3x the amount of responsibilities with an STR over a LTR too. Having a property manager reduces the amount of time and responsibility, but it also reduces the amount of profits. How much? That's hard to say, but I would take a swag* and say that that with a property manager you'll make between 1.10-1.95x the amount you would over a LTR.


*Scientific Wild Azz Guess**


**@Lucas Carl How's that for a witty response?

Good to know, didn't read enough small print yet to notice that.  I did see that their 10% charge is from every charge, except for tax.  Why should they get 10% of a cleaning fee?  Makes no sense to me.

Originally posted by @Valerie Rogers :

Hi  @Susan Ticson, I do not have any personal experience with Evolve but there are other smaller "Marketing & Booking" services out there if you are worried about your property not receiving the attention it deserves from a large company like Evolve. 

One thing you should understand about Evolve is that THEY own the listings that advertise your property. So if you use them and then some day wish to either handle your properties yourself or have someone else handle them you'll have to start over with your own brand new listings on the listing sites. That may not be an issue for you, but I'd hate for my property to lose any reviews that the Evolve listings might receive and also have repeat guests not know how to contact you if they want to book a return trip if the original (Evolve) listing that they booked from is no longer advertised.

Best wishes!

Aloha

I have a couple of vacation rentals in Hawaii and I used Evolve for one condo just to see how they where about a year ago. After six months I learned I had far better results doing it my self then with Evolve. I was getting twice as many bookings my self then they did on another condo in the same complex. On the other side of the coin they took care of all the booking for that unit. I was told  by a n owner on Maui they will take care of all the cleaning but that owner was just getting started so I'm not sure how it worked out since I was just there on vacation.

You don't lose money by having a property manager unless you have a property that has too slim of a profit margin. I haven't seen losses yet with the 10 vacation properties we currently manage and the 4 properties we own. True, your profits are less because you are paying for someone to handle all of the marketing, coordinating of cleaning, maintenance, bookings, guest issues, etc. You can DIY but you need to evaluate how much your time is worth and if it's worth the 24/7 being on call. There are a lot of things I can do myself but I pay for someone to do for me. Cleaning, taxes, bookkeeping, are just a few that come to mind. I even have hired an assistant in my company to handle things I can do myself as have countless other organizations with employees. The way I see it, I free my time up to pursue more properties which I wouldn't have been able to do if I was spending all my time trying to keep up with all the things I can do myself.  

@Wendy Schultz great point and glad it was said. My personal opinion is when you @Lucas Carl or anyone else for that matter, analyze any deal (STR or LTR), you should always make sure the deal works with property management unless you want to create a new job for yourself. There is nothing wrong using PM, and yes you can make more money by doing the PM yourself, but at some point, you can only scale so far without having to hire someone.

Early on in my investing career, I managed everything. Saving that management fee helped me juice my returns. Early on I had more time than money. Now at this point in my career, I use management for almost everything and still get double digit returns.

@Andrew Kerr Exactly! If you want to scale, you have to bring in management at some point. Otherwise, there is simply not enough hours in the day. Those who want to leave their full time jobs to invest full time will hit a limit of the number they can handle themselves while still employed. If I was looking at it, I'd rather have 10 properties bringing in 80% of gross rents that I didn't have to lift a finger on than 5 properties bringing in 100% that I had to do all the work on.  It's all about leveraging yourself! 

Feedback on Evolve - I am an actual user of Evolve for a STR I have in New Orleans.

Why I use Management:

Where I am at in my investing career, I choose to spend my time finding deals and not managing property. So for my STR, I didn't want to have to deal with bookings, so I looked at PM and choose Evolve.

My Thoughts on Evolve:

I view evolve as more of a marketing company that an actual PM. They find the bookings via marketing your place on Airbnb, Home Away, VRBO, Flip Key & TripAdvisor. They create the listing, takes photos of your place and get the bookings done. You still have to arrange guest check in (I setup everything on keyless locks so I don't have to be there), and you need to setup cleaning and maintenance. I setup my cleaner to get email alerts for bookings, so they come and go as needed. This leaves me to just restock supplies and handle any maintenance issues. Even with maintenance issues, I have my handyman take care of it. It is pretty hands off, which is what I wanted and Evolve is good at making this happen.

The marketing Evolve does for their services is to use case studies. I find it funny that people get mad, call BS on their numbers, or just don't like how they do it. They of course pick some of their best case studies to showcase. I don't know what company doesn't use their success stories for finding more clients. They also show the total bookings made, not the total nights stayed. As an example you might get a booking for Thanksgiving during March, you get that income for the November booking in March. That is how they can show such high numbers in their case studies in such a short period of time. And yes they do use their best clients in the case studies. This doesn't bother me at all. Your results will obviously vary depending on your market, and the product you deliver.

My Results:

We went live with Evolve in the middle of December and immediately got our first booking for NYE. We probably got a dozen bookings in the first 30 days we were live. The bookings were anywhere  from Jan to 4th of July. We have been booked every weekend from January thru Mid May (except one weekend in January). Our place is a little over 500 sq ft, and a studio/one bedroom. Its small, but our average nightly rate has been about $115. During Mardi Gras our place was booking at $185 a night. Evolve knew all the big events over the next year and preset higher rates and increased minimum stays around big events as well to increase revenue. 

We are extremely happy with our results as we are booked about as much as we can be, and we have an average rate that is higher than I hoped for on such a small place. To me the biggest benefit is they make the process almost completely hands off.

@Andrew Kerr excellent point for newbs make sure you can pay a manager if you lose your fingers in a car wreck. Our VRs gross 1.5% in the slow season so I think we’ll be ok. 

Aloha

To be clear I had twice as many booking on the condo I did my self then Evolve.

@John D. Nah, I don't see anyone paying $400-$500 a night for our place even during Mardi Gras. For the size of our unit (a 500 sq ft one bedroom carriage house), and our location (way in uptown), it was about right. If we wanted to wait we could have charged a bit more two weeks out, but being booked out in advance works for me. As a comparison, there will still houses with multiple bedrooms going for $500 - $700 a night a couple weeks out.

Now if our place was down in the Garden District or CBD, we could have gotten more. 

I use Evolve for my larger home and I'm not overly amazed, but I'm not going anywhere, either. I had a hard time with it on my own, then got Evolve on it and bookings did go up. To me the biggest benefit is that they are a preferred provider on HomeAway, which owns many STR sites. The fees there are 17% for me, so the fact that I'm saving 4% and my listing is higher up in the rankings because of the "preferred" thing is a great trade off. Most of the bookings I get on Evolve are from HomeAway. They tend to be a bit older and have taken great care of my property. I have another STR a few hundred feet away, and I've found that listing one with Evolve gets me a ton of VRBO people and the one I manage alone brings me a lot from AirBNB.

The highest praise I can give Evolve is that they hooked me up with an excellent cleaner who knew the game and was ready to work. I hired her company to clean my other STR and my life has been better ever since. The cleaner knows that I'm with a big company and if she messes up my account, Evolve will pull other jobs as well and that's nice to have that leverage. Cleaners are typically not super reliable and if there is one thing you need in this business, it's a reliable cleaner.

@Susan Ticson Evolve takes 13% per booking then you have to hire your own cleaner/maintenance. 13% per booking is ALOT for just advertising and booking a guest. If it's just 1 STR I'm pretty sure you can set this up yourself and have a friend or family member do this for 1/2 the cost if you are not inclined to book your own reservations.

I manage multiple client's properties so it really comes down to what you want to do. If you have a time-consuming job and want no parts of the guest interaction then you'll need to seek a full-service manager in your area. If you want to maximize as much money as possible then you will have to self-manage or set up your own local team.

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