Second homes are very large investments for most people. Someone buys a second home in order to have their own place to make great memories, position themselves for retirement and maybe earn a return. With so much riding on it, one needs to ensure that the company managing your unit is fit to do so. Here are a few questions to ask when interviewing rental management companies:
Do they have experience in this market?
They will need relationships within the community. These include, but are not limited to: plumbers, repairmen, janitorial firms, catering companies, street sweepers, elected officials and the like.
Do they have experience marketing rental real estate?
A top tier rental management company will have a website, call center and a physical office.
The website is important for dissemination of information and the ability to book.
The call center is important because not everyone is comfortable booking a multi-thousand dollar transaction without talking to a human being.
A physical office (in or near the property) is important, so the managers can easily transfer keys to guests, regularly inspect your unit and be available in case of emergencies.
Do they have an onsite office?
This is a bigger deal than it seems. If your manager has an office or front desk on the property, they can do a couple of things better than anyone else.
Customer service: They can be there when your guests check in and out. They are there to answer any questions a guest might have during the stay and are available to resolve any issues that will come up. Doing this remotely is difficult and inefficient.
Access. It’s not uncommon for a rental company with an office on the property to have access to the back-of-house functions, which make operations run smoothly. For example, if your manager has access to a housekeeping supply closet, they don’t have to go through the time and expense of paying people to bring in cleaning supplies at the end of every turn. If the housekeeping company doesn’t need to pack the supplies in and out, that means they don’t have to have trucks or vans; if they don’t have to have trucks or vans, they don’t need to charge you for them. Access to the back-of-house functions reduces time and costs materially to the providers of the respective services.
How many units do they currently manage?
You’ll want to make sure the size of the management company syncs with the number of units under management. There’s nothing wrong with mom and pop shops as long as they are managing a mom and pop number of units. If the units under management count is in the hundreds, the company will need full-fledged departments such as accounting, IT, call centers and owner’s relations. Don’t be afraid of the big guys as they should have streamlined tactics, techniques, and procedures to run efficiently.
How are the reviews?
This is common sense, but you need to check out their reviews. Do not be afraid to ask for references
If they are managing multiple units, how will they determine when to offer yours for rent?
There are several ways to do this, but the bottom line is you need to make sure there is a system in place that seems fair to you. Be extra vigilant if the rental management company is also a unit owner in the building. Get the policy in writing and do a self-audit every once in a while. Go through the motions of renting your unit once it’s part of their inventory and ensure you are getting the appropriate level of exposure.
Those are the biggies. If the rental management company can answer these questions to your satisfaction, you’ll probably have a winner. Not everything is as advertised, so the good news is, if you make a bad decision, it’s not permanent; you can switch next year. Good luck, and feel free to contact us with any questions.