How do you find a Property Manager for a STR in another city?

18 Replies

I'm thinking about buying a few properties in another state with the intent to run them as Short Term Rentals. I'd like to be as hands-off as reasonably possible, once I get them set up. Does anyone have any tips for finding a good, trustworthy Property Manager who can handle Short Term Rentals?

I do understand that nothing in life is free, and that I'd have to pay for the service. I'd just have to take that into account when evaluating deals.

In this case, the market I'm considering is Cleveland, Ohio, but I'd welcome any feedback on my question, even if it's not specific to that city.

@Joel Fine

I Self Manage 5 properties remotely with my iPhone. Local PMs in my market (Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley which is almost entirely vacation rentals) charge 40% so it’s difficult to turn the amount of profit I’m looking for which is BIG. 

I also have a day job a family 3 dogs, have run 19 full marathons and 2 ultras, have 5 LTRs that I self manage. Give self management a try Its easy.

Originally posted by @Lucas Carl:

@Joel Fine

I Self Manage 5 properties remotely with my iPhone. Local PMs in my market (Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley which is almost entirely vacation rentals) charge 40% so it’s difficult to turn the amount of profit I’m looking for which is BIG. 

I also have a day job a family 3 dogs, have run 19 full marathons and 2 ultras, have 5 LTRs that I self manage. Give self management a try Its easy.

I agree with Lucas. It's all about you support staff. The main thing you need is a great cleaning person or company. They are your eyes and ears they can restock supplies and get the house ready for the next guests. VRBO and Airbnb make it easy to run the business collect money maintain your calendar, send automated responses for some things. Let them replace a PM and just get a great cleaning person. As Lucas said you might not be able to be profitable after paying 30% to 40% to a PM. There charging that off the top. Then you have to pay the mortgage, cleaner, utilities, upkeep and repairs etc. Makes it near impossible to make any money with a PM. Even if you could make money you'd make a lot more not using them.

Managing from afar, while totally possible and maybe easy for some, still takes time and can be stressful. It makes sense you want to be totally hands off. Sometimes it’s worth making a little less profit in order to have more time for other things. I would recommend starting by making a specific post on BP looking for an Airbnb property manager in Cleveland. There are plenty Airbnb property managers on here that will charge 25%. Not sure if any are in Cleveland but it’s worth a try. Good luck!

Thanks, all, for the replies. I do want to keep the fees to a reasonable level so I can still make a decent return.

It occurs to me, one way to find a Property Manager might be as follows:

  • Search on AirBnb for similar properties in the area I'm investing in.
  • Pick out the ones that have lots of 5-star reviews.
  • Send each host a note: "Would you be interested in managing another property nearby?"

I imagine at least some of the messages would find their way to Property Managers who are open to more business coming their way...

Contact other short-term rental ads in the area that are listed by a PM or company name.  Won't take very many calls before you find someone to work with.

You don’t need a traditional ‘property manager’. I own and ‘manage’ several properties in Kauai. Occasionally I get messages from an owner asking if I’d be interested in handling their’s for them. This includes:

Handling the VRBO / Airbnb / other listings
Interacting with all guests
Throwing their property into my ‘system’ which I already have in place (use my cleaners, maint people, etc)

If the situation is right I’ll consider the offer. Anyone who self manages has a system in place. It’s just a matter of finding someone who is willing to let you piggy back with theirs.

Give that a try.

@Joel Fine We found our property managers through the realtor and lawyer we used to purchase the properties, but perhaps for us it was easier because our properties are in a common vacation area with lots of VR properties. Not sure if that is the case for you, but your realtor might have someone in their network who knows people who manage short term rentals. 

Also ask your personal network (even personal professional: ie: post on Linked In) if anyone who knows people in Cleveland and reach out to those people, because a referral can definitely come from a friend of a friend and through people not in real estate at all.

I was going to say exactly what you posted subsequently - peruse AirBNB listings, click into some of the owner or property manager profiles near your properties and message them on the platform for suggestions.

You will want to have someone in place at the start because because you'll immediately need to furnish as well as get the listing quickly up on the VR platforms and a good property manager will do all that for you.

Good luck!

@Caroline C. I have a few Airbnb’s that are performing nicely in Cleveland. If you market them the right way you’ll be full forever. So many people “just moved here” or are in between buying/selling a home. Up charge for pets and extra guests. I have a property that has been fully booked since February and all I do is communicate w tenants and my cleaner. But make sure your neighbors are on your side first. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

@Joel Fine I manage my own rentals here in Fort Walton Beach, FL, but I can understand how that can be more challenging from far away. I do agree with several of the posts above that self-managing doesn't have to be overwhelming and that it offers the best control of costs and best opportunity to be profitable. Here on the Gulf Coast I offer a hybrid service for vacation rental owners who manage themselves to some degree. I charge a flat monthly fee much lower than the full service rental management fees for 25%+. You may want to see if a similar flat-fee rental assistance service is available in the areas where you are considering buying. That might save you on huge management fees and may be sufficient for what you need. Of course, for people who want to not have to deal with their rental at all that might not be the best option, but worth keeping in mind, especially if you are hoping to be profitable on your STR investment.

Yes and when people say 15-25% they are talking about the top line... so in reality you're giving up like 33-50% of your net income.

Originally posted by @Joel Fine :

Thanks, all, for the replies. I do want to keep the fees to a reasonable level so I can still make a decent return.

It occurs to me, one way to find a Property Manager might be as follows:

  • Search on AirBnb for similar properties in the area I'm investing in.
  • Pick out the ones that have lots of 5-star reviews.
  • Send each host a note: "Would you be interested in managing another property nearby?"

I imagine at least some of the messages would find their way to Property Managers who are open to more business coming their way...

 This is what I did. 

@Eric Adobo I'd be interested in learning more about your experience...in particular what kind of rates you pay for STR property management. If you don't want to share publicly but are willing to do so in a private message we can connect on the networking part of the site.

My Co host charges well under 20% but that's because it's a condotel.

Check in/out ✋ led by hotel front desk. 

Maid service located on premise. 

Repairs-just put in order to hotel, they take care of it...... I pay of course. 

Ask? away. 

This is the last genre that ✏ S OR ✒ S out in today's market. 

Originally posted by @Luke Carl :

@Joel Fine

I Self Manage 5 properties remotely with my iPhone. Local PMs in my market (Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley which is almost entirely vacation rentals) charge 40% so it’s difficult to turn the amount of profit I’m looking for which is BIG. 

Do you run into issues where you have to kick out partiers? If so, is this handled remotely? Also, how do you handle re-stocking supplies? 

Originally posted by @Scott Krause :
Originally posted by @Luke Carl:

@Joel Fine

I Self Manage 5 properties remotely with my iPhone. Local PMs in my market (Pigeon Forge Gatlinburg Wears Valley which is almost entirely vacation rentals) charge 40% so it’s difficult to turn the amount of profit I’m looking for which is BIG. 

Do you run into issues where you have to kick out partiers? If so, is this handled remotely? Also, how do you handle re-stocking supplies? 

Purchase in an STR friendly market. Where all of your neighbors do the same thing.

Housekeeper does the supplies. 

There are only a hand full of STR markets that are worth a dang