So you are the proud owner of a Muskoka real estate vacation home – congratulations. But just as with your own home, a Muskoka vacation home needs a lot of tender loving care. Who is going to look after it when you are away? And, perhaps, how is it going to pay its own way? Thoughts like these tend to push vacation home owners into thinking about appointing a property management company. So what should you be looking for in a property manager, and how do you go about finding one with the qualities you want?
First and foremost, you have to decide if you just want the property taken care of, or if you also want it rented out. This will determine what kind of property management firm you want, and whether you need to check their credentials for marketing your firm, or just for looking after it. Assuming that you would like your home to generate some income for you, you need to look for several key capabilities
• A firm which will ensure the highest standards of care and attention to the fabric and contents of your property. Lots of rental income will not make up for the damage caused by careless renters. Make sure that your chosen firm will keep on top of every
• Personal check-in and check-out of every rental. Many firms take advantage of the availability of keyless coded locks to allow renters to check themselves in and out. This means that they never know who is in your property, and whether your four-bedroom home which is supposed to have a maximum of 8 guests actually has 16 grad party celebrants all over the floors
• The highest standards of cleaning. Cleaning a property thoroughly is time-consuming and expensive. Many property management firms cut corners here, and if they do, you will eventually pay the price in worn-out carpets and other forms of dilapidation.
• Superior marketing capabilities. Marketing vacation rental properties has become a sophisticated business these days. Make sure that the primary website on which your property will appear is ranked highly against the most popular keywords for your location. A local firm without much experience in search engine optimization may be able to take good care of your property but they won’t generate a lot of income since no-one will know that they exist.
• Great service for guests. Look for a manager who knows how to offer excellent service to guests: arrival baskets of food and drink, pre-booking of activities, restaurant reservations etc. If guests feel they are well looked-after, they will be more inclined to come again, but also feel more of an obligation to take good care of the property they are in.
• Great service to you. You should expect VIP treatment when you are using your own property, but also VIP service when you call up your property manager to enquire about availability, discuss renovation and maintenance issues, query your income statements or any other matter. Make sure you will always get to speak to someone senior who knows you and your property.
Make sure you talk to them in detail and go over the management contract with a fine tooth comb before you sign on the dotted line. You should expect to pay 30-50% of gross rental income to the management company; if they charge less you might want to be suspicious of what they are offering; if more, they’re probably too expensive. This may sound a lot, but remember that they are looking after your property for no fixed outlay to you, and they only make money when you do as well.
Good luck with your search.