Vacation Rental Property: DIY or hire a professional?
Wednesday, 9 October 2019
Renting out your vacation home can help pay for the property and ensure that it's used on a regular basis. But managing the rental process can be daunting—so some vacation homeowners outsource to a rental property management company.
Keeping a vacation home rented on a regular basis involves marketing, cleaning, repairs, answering questions from guests and potential guests, coordinating payments, keys and other loose ends. If you're not sure whether you should do it yourself or hire a professional management company, ask yourself these questions.
How far away is the vacation property from your permanent home?
If your vacation home is within an hour of your home, you may be willing and able to drive over for cleaning and maintenance and to handle problems tenants may have from time to time. But if you live two or more hours away, managing the rental yourself could become too much of a hassle. What if the tenant calls at 9 p.m. on a cold winter night and says the heater isn't working? What if the neighbor at your vacation property calls at midnight to complain that your tenants are hosting a loud party? If you're too far away to handle those things, it may be easier to have a management company nearby on call.
How much time are you willing to spend on vacation property management?
If you have a specific amount you want to earn on a monthly or annual basis with your rental property, you'll need to keep a close watch on costs. Hiring a management company will eat into your profits. Most rental property managers charge a percentage of the rent, and those fees can vary widely from 10 percent up to 50 percent.
If you want to put as much of rental income as possible into your own pocket, a property management company may not be for you. But if the property management fees are minimal and include things you'd be paying for separately, such as cleaning, maintenance and credit card transaction fees, a management company could be worth it.
How technology-savvy are you?
Many of the traditional tasks associated with managing a rental property can now be handled online. If you feel comfortable, you can use websites like Airbnb or VRBO to market your property and handle online reservations and payment. You can also install a smart lock or keyless entry system to add security and avoid having to meet tenants or house cleaners to deliver keys. With online payment apps like Venmo, you can pay house cleaners remotely, so you don't have to actually go to the property to pay the cleaners or repair professionals.
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