The vacation rental business lends itself to Do-It-Yourself types: we do our own marketing, we fix our own leaks, we handle our own accounting.
But this self-sufficient mentality stands out to me as both our strongest asset and our greatest downfall.
You see, while running a successful vacation rental on our own can be tremendously fulfilling (and profitable), a recent survey shows that neglecting to utilize the help of local property management-type services can also compromise a guests’ stay, thus negatively affecting the success of your rental.
Download Your FREE Tenant Screening Guide!
Hey there! Screening tenants can be a tricky business, and this critical step can be the difference between profits and disaster. To help you with your real estate investing journey, feel free to download BiggerPockets’ complimentary Tenant Screening Guide and get the information you need to find great tenants.
Using a Zipinion crowdsourcing poll, I asked 100 people: When staying at a vacation rental with your family, which is more important: (a) A property manager who lives and works in the area or (b) The property’s actual owner who (while they do not live in the area) is available to answer any question promptly by email or phone?
An amazing 67% of respondents chose option “A” citing the following reasons for their preference:
- Let’s be honest, you always want an onsite or quick-to-contact manager. Especially if you have an issue, you want to know you can have them in person
- I like the idea of a property manager that I don’t need to worry about offending. They are an agent to the owner, but you can complain and get something fixed without hassling the owners or getting “personal”
- Makes me feel more comfortable with the manager being (physically) right there in case something happens. Since I’m on my vacation time, I don’t want to have to wait
- A property manager would be available to stop by if there were any maintenance issues (like the internet going out)
- I would feel more comfortable talking with a property manager whose professional role it is to take care of and know about the property. I think it might be awkward to talk to the owner of the house especially if I do not know them personally. That is a very undefined relationship, and could be very uncomfortable depending on the individuals involved
- I would prefer to see a property person face to face to discuss any issues/ compliments rather than a “faceless” person by email or phone. The hospitality Industry is a service industry
- If I have a problem I might not be able to get to a phone (an office around the corner is much more convenient)
- I always prefer a face-to-face meeting
- I like having the convenience of a person-to-person interaction
- A manager seems more personable. They are more familiar with the place because they live there
- An on-site person can come over and fix the problem right then and there instead of making *us* do it
- I like being able to walk into an office and talk with somebody, rather than hope they answer my emails or calls
Of course, there were some respondents (33%) that said they’d prefer a very accessible owner:
- The owner has more real authority
- A manager who lives and works in the area isn’t necessarily available to respond to inquiries. Sometimes the closest people provide the least support. I would prefer the person who will respond quickly and can possibly delegate tasks to others who are closer
- I don’t like dealing with middlemen, I’d like to be able to contact the owner myself
- It’s more direct. They have more personal investment in the property, so I feel it would be more personal and they would be more caring despite the distance. There are also no miscommunications
- I’d rather have someone who responds quickly to my concerns over someone who may live in the area and not do so
- Just because the property owner lives locally doesn’t mean they will be helpful
- I’d trust an owner more than a manager
- Most of the time, I would probably only need an answer – not to see them face to face. So, phone or e-mail is fine with me
- As long as they are responsive and get the problem rectified, I’d prefer they were not on the property. That seems to be invasive
These results, while they cover the gamut of very rational benefits on both sides, are pretty conclusive: most vacation rental guests want someone nearby with whom can interact face-to-face.
This may give a lot of owners new perspective as to the costs and benefits of having an on-site team. While you may have viewed property managers as greedy or just wanting to take a slice of your pie, maybe now you’ll think differently?
If you don’t live in the area, do you use someone to fill this comfort void?
Photo: Joel Abroad