When you buy a vacation home in Sarasota, you might well plan to retire to the community someday, but not today. There's still a lot of time between now and then, even if it's only a few years, and during that period, you'll still own your very own piece of the Sunshine State. While you greatly enjoy the balmy breezes shifting off the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, it's not every day of the year, at least at this particular juncture.
The home has everything you need to make it a wonderful retreat and has that certain something that makes you long for another visit. After all, the west coast of Florida has so much to offer, and all of those recreational opportunities get you thinking about turning your vacation home into a vacation rental. It's a smart way to produce a passive income, one that's nearly guaranteed because of it's in a highly desirable holiday area. Thousands of tourists visit throughout the year and your place sits empty most of the time.
Now, you're slowly realizing that it could be rented on a short term basis, perhaps a few weeks or even for a few months at a time, allowing it to be used and generate an income stream. However, you don't necessarily live around the corner and that presents a problem. If you do choose to lease it as a vacation rental, how will it be maintained? What if something breaks down? The answer, you well know, is to hire a property manager. But, do you really need one for your Sarasota home-away-from-home?
When to Hire a Property Manager
In general, most real estate professionals will tell you that a property management service becomes an inevitable necessity, simply because of a few factors. For instance, you have several homes as part of your investment portfolio and don't have the time to devote to properly manage each and every one. Another reason is that your primary residence is just too far away to make it practical to manage your vacation home.
"Management companies deal directly with your potential tenants and the tenant ultimately selected to occupy the house. Rental property management companies can save you time and worry by listing your house, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repair issues, and responding to complaints. While the management company is responsible for managing and scheduling repairs, usually you’re still on the hook for the cost, so make sure you factor that into your budget accordingly." --Quicken Loans
Yet another reason you would hire a property manager is that you're inexperienced and/or uncomfortable with doing the landlord gig by yourself. That's a legitimate concern, because if you don't know landlord-tenant law, are not enthusiastic about marketing your property and collecting the rent, you're not in a good position to be a property manager, you're better off just being the owner; and, having a degree of separation between the tenants and you.
How to Find the Right Property Management Company
Regardless of the reasons you might have, hiring a property management company is something that will have a direct and very real impact on renting your vacation home. Of course, you need a service that's trustworthy and one that does the job right. Here are some tips for choosing the right property management company for your vacation rental:
- Look for a specialty service. Like many industries, property management has specialty areas, which include single family, multifamily, and commercial spaces. You should first look for companies that not only routinely handle single family, but also the type of single family property you own.
- Know how the company advertises for rentals. Take a bit of time to research how the list of services advertises for vacation rentals. Just ads in the local newspaper won't do. The company ought to place ads in places where tourists begin their stay research, like online reservation sites.
- Make sure the service has appropriate insurance. You simply can't afford to be fully exposed and one legal misstep can spell a whole lot of trouble with several zeros tacked-on the end of such a mistake. The company should have the right insurance with ample coverage to protect you.
- Look into their fee structure. Property management firms charge in a number of ways. Some have a set percentage of the total rent collected while others have different fee structures. You should be in-the-know before you hire a company.
- Ask about accounting procedures. Reputable and reliable companies will have no qualms about showing you how they keep track of income and expenses. If it's too complicated or just too sloppy, that's a red flag. The accounting ought to be easy to understand, yet comprehensive.