The Form and Function of a Healthy Vacation Rental Property Management Relationship in Big Bear
Most vacation rental property investors dream that they will make piles of money, that they will have divine vacations anytime they wish, and that they won’t have the responsibilities that plague the typical real estate investor. The key to vacation rental investment bliss is to be realistic and set the stage accurately before escrow closes on your Big Bear investment property. Here are 5 things to keep in mind to make the most out of your relationship with your vacation rental management company.
1. Have the right mindset.
Never forget that you are buying your investment cabin with the intention that it will perform for you. Evidence of performance should thrill you, not irritate you. If you start with gratitude that your property management company is delivering results for you, tackling problems and disappointments will be more manageable. Warning: if both spouses do not agree 100% on renting out their mountain cabin, there will be friction. Make sure all owners are on the same page and want to rent.
2. Be visible.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well…sort of. Check in with your property manager frequently, though not just to complain. A call to say “thank you” for an especially good month or for good service will keep your hardworking property manager feeling appreciated and all the more invested in your professional relationship. This also eliminates the Pavlovian response a property manager can develop when a chronic complainer’s name appears on his phone. You don’t want your property manager dreading your calls. Being visible also means getting to Big Bear frequently to actually put your eyes on your investment property. A visit once a quarter is a minimum for a responsible investor. Whenever you visit your cabin, visit your property manager, even if it’s just a quick “hello”. Showing your investment property respect will show others to respect it as well.
3. Be professional.
When problems crop up (and they always do), bring a calm, professional attitude to the discussion and solution. Berating, yelling, blaming, whining…gets everyone nowhere fast. A firm and calm expression of an evident problem with a clearly outlined expectation of a solution is professional. Then be prepared to discuss possible solutions. Not all problems are the sole responsibility of the property management company. Have a conversation. Making demands, even in the most egregious circumstances, is poor form.
4. Set reasonable expectations.
Your cabin is your cabin. In the end, it is your responsibility. You will always be responsible for some of the care of your cabin. Expect to come in the spring and clean up the yard after the winter season or hire someone to do it. Expect to replace or repair fixtures and appliances that get worn into disrepair from rental use. Expect to deal with problems caused by “acts of nature” that will happen. Your property management company will outline what their responsibilities are, and what they are not. Tip: the more cooperative and respectful the relationship between homeowner and property manager, the more willing the company will be to go above and beyond the job description.
5. Know when to cut your losses.
There are things on the management side that could occur that are inexcusable, and the only option would be to terminate the relationship with that management company. Some infractions should not get a second chance, for example:
- Late or missed payments for rental activity without logical and satisfactory explanation.
- Unauthorized occupancy of your cabin.
- Clear and evident disrespect to you or your family/friends when using your cabin.
- Excessive damage left unaddressed or not brought to your attention in a timely fashion.
- Failure to immediately address risky and/or unsafe circumstances that may arise with your cabin.
- Any illegal activity that associates your property.
Be smart and have fun!
It is fair for an investor to have high standards for the vacation rental property management company of his choice. It takes a little time to get familiar with the nature of this specialized revenue-generating investment niche. There are oddities and details to the function of the vacation rental business that must be factored into creating a successful experience. Keep your standards high, your mind and eyes open, and maintain an attitude of gratitude. Learn all you need to know about how to have a successful vacation rental management experience, and have fun doing it!