STR in Port Saint Joe Florida

9 Replies

The Golf Course Villa is almost ready to make us some money, finally. It’s paid for & we don’t want a heloc because we don’t plan on buying anymore properties. We feel that this property, in this area close to the beach & on the golf course is a winner being a Francis Lloyd Wright-esq Villa.
Anyway we want to rent it from Memorial Day until the end of October.  This way we skip the heat, humidity & hurricanes. 
We have a very large attic to lock up our personal items. I will be building a shed to store & lockup tools etc.
We will need to use a property management company because sometimes we will be traveling out of the country. I do all of my own house repairs but I have a good person to do repairs while we are away. I’ll also need to find a good cleaning service/person. So we get to the questions-
Is Evolve a good property management company? 
What Is a good book or resource for the financial aspects?

Thanks for any tips & help on this journey.






@Mike Shaw Can you post a link to the home so we can see what you're talking about?  Most of us here on this forum are self managers so I can't speak for Evolve. I follow a couple of other forums for our place in the smokies and I know from those posts there are more displeased with them than are happy with their service. That is subjective I know, but its just more data to weigh. Good Luck. We're in the process of purchasing a Golf Villa in Branson now and can't wait to get it on the market.

Paul

Thanks Paul. I know Manassas well. I worked at Micron for many years in Boise, then transferred to Manassas to get it going. I’m retired now. 
I’ll post some pictures. 
When we bought it, half of the roof was gone, the 2 big 8'x8' corner windows were gone, the front double doors were gone, the kitchen door window was gone & there was lots of interior work to do. The golf course has made a major turn around also. I worked on the irrigation system on the course for almost a year to get it repaired & running since we had a vested interest in having a nice golf course.
This is the original house that was built by the Senator who built the course. Was his golf Villa/guest house.

As long as you have a phone or Internet connection you can still self manage using vrbo and airbnb.

Your cleaners would handle turnovers and be your eyes and ears.

Evolve isn’t a full service PM. They take care of the advertising, marketing, and billing  of your property and then hand off customer coordination responsibilities to you or your “on the ground” team once the guest is booked. We used them for a while, but decided to self manage. Our workload didn’t increase much and we saved the 10% Evolve fee. They were enjoyable to work with though. If you decide you need full service PM, then recommend you find a local agency. Good luck.

I would go with a local property manager to start... You have a unique challenge. The area took a tremendous hit from Hurricane Michael 2018 so many rental houses were wiped out along with the tourism infrastructure. Nothing wrong with being in on the rebuild but with the disruption in tourism, local folks like cleaners have had a hard time making a living. Some have moved on. At this time I believe you are better off having a property manager hire the right locals and oversee the work. Evolve charges 10%, local managers charge 15-20%. There is a absolutely shortage of rentals now. Also a local manager would be up to date on which restaurants reopened. Many of the best seafood places were leveled and haven't rebuilt even though there are many web pages still up referencing them. Guests will need to realize how far they will be from basic services. A dream for some folks, others will hate it.

I'm assuming you are on the old St Joe Country Club golf course. If not, ignore the rest of this post... If you have been working there you already know the good news/bad news. It's the ONLY golf course in the county. It was going bankrupt and has been for years. The county just bought it to try to hang on to the jobs. They will lease operations and see if it's profitable in three years. The online reviews of this course are terrible so you'll need to be creative in marketing your golf villa. There are many top notch courses 40-50 miles away in Panama City as competition.

You are in the beach boonies on that stretch of coast. Although the bay is close and maybe walkable it's the marshy end. (Maybe add kayaks or paddle boards your amenities?) Otherwise it's a drive to the beach access on the Cape or back toward Mexico Beach (for little kids and seniors there is never a rip tide there). The beaches are spectacular! Crystal white sand, completely uncrowded and very mellow. It's also one of the few beach areas that allow horseback riding and off road driving. No boardwalks or carnival attractions here. As a beach STR you are competing against gulf front or walking access STRs in Cape San Blas, St Joe Beach, or Mexico Beach.

There was an airstrip at the Country Club. I think the county took this over too. If it stays open to private aviation, I always thought a fly in rental would be a unique opportunity.  I looked into this about 15 yrs ago. Problem was getting basic services (car rental, groceries, etc) once you land and it's too far to bike. Maybe there are Uber drivers now. 

Wish you all the best! I will always love the area and plan to rebuild. If you like pre-Disney small town Florida, you can't beat this area of the "Forgotten Coast". If you check out the history of Port St Joe it's been beaten up a few times and always comes back!  PSJ is the "Constitution City" since the FL state constitution was signed there. The two main FL cities in the mid 1800's were Pensacola and St Augustine. Neither of those cities wanted the other to host the signing so they met in the middle of the panhandle at little Port St Joe. Politics never change...


I would go with a local property manager to start... You have a unique challenge. If you are in the old St Joe Country Club, you were a long way from any services even before the storm.  The area took a tremendous hit from Hurricane Michael so many rental houses were wiped out along with the tourism infrastructure.  Terrific being in on the rebuild but with the disruption in tourism, local folks have had a hard time making a living. Some of my prior contacts have moved on. At this time I believe you are better off having a local property manager hire the right people and oversee their work. Evolve charges 10%, local managers charge 15-20%. There absolutely is a shortage of rentals now so inventory is low.

Good news/bad news it's the only golf course in the county.  It was going bankrupt and has been for years. The county just bought it to try to hang on to the jobs since post-Michael jobs were lost.  They will lease operations and see if it's profitable in three years. The online reviews of this course are terrible so you'll need to be creative in marketing a golf villa. There are many competitive courses 40-50 miles away in Panama City.

Although the bay may be walkable it's the marshy end. (Maybe add kayaks or paddle boards you your amenities?) Otherwise it's a drive to the gulf beach access on the Cape or back toward Mexico Beach (if you have little kids or seniors there is never a rip tide there. Wonderful!). The beaches are spectacular. Crystal white sand, completely uncrowded, and very mellow. The gulf front or walkable access or golf cart distance rentals on the Cape, St Joe Beaches, and Mexico Beach are better located as a beach STR. You need to figure an angle or yours to compete. Or maybe with the wipeout of so many houses you might be in at the perfect time.

A local manager will know which restaurants and services are open. Many did not rebuild but references to them are still on the web.  Guests will need to know what to expect. 

I love the area and hope to rebuild soon from Michael washing me out.  If you like the pre-Disney, small town Florida, this area can't be beat. Best wishes!

So sorry for the double post! The first one reported failed but actually worked. "Too much time on my hands... "  Yes indeed with no traveling now.  Itchy feet turned into busy fingers.

Also..  you mentioned personal storage in your attic for the summer. The heat and humidity in that space will be rough.  You also mentioned that you will "skip the hurricanes" by renting renting Memorial Day to Oct. You will miss it, your house won't. 😎


Thanks Glenna. The course has made huge improvements. The greens are brand new now & they finally hired someone who actually knows how to grow Florida grass & not just a good ol boy that talks the talk & has no clue like they did for the last many years. The airstrip is totally separate & privately owned still. 

The hurricanes are our biggest concern. It is tempting to just sell it now that it is repaired. We aren’t from this area & aren’t use to this heat/humidity & the hurricanes.