What To Look For In A Property Management Company

A good property management company can be a great asset, and they’ll be making important decisions on your behalf, so choosing the right one is critical, and you should do your homework before hiring someone. 

Let’s say you have a home or villa here on Hilton Head Island, but you also spend time in another part of the country during the year.  Maybe the summers are a little too tropical for your taste, or you prefer to avoid being here during hurricane season.  You decide to turn your property into a vacation rental to earn some extra income while sharing this beautiful island with visitors.  

Obviously, you don’t want to turn one of your biggest investments over to just anyone, so what should you look for when choosing the property management company that will look after your vacation home?  

Here are some important things you should ask about when searching for a vacation rental management company:

  • Local or National Company
  • Specific Services Provided
  • Background, Qualifications, Portfolio
  • Fees/Rates
  • Setting and Collecting Rental Fees
  • Property Maintenance & Repairs
  • Property Inspections
  • Guest Screening
  • Staff Size & Customer Service
  • Number of Properties Managed
  • Contract Termination
  • Marketing
  • Guest Experience Provisions

Many Hilton Head Island property management firms are now part of national chains.  Although they can sometimes have a greater marketing reach, you and your property may not receive the same amount of care you’d receive from a local company.  Local companies have a thorough knowledge of the local market, are close by should any need arise for you or your guests, and generally provide a more personalized and hands-on experience.

Here are a few levels of service that firms may offer.  Make sure you choose one that provides you with all the services you want:

Strictly Marketing - These companies will show your listing across multiple platforms, but that’s about it, which is why they charge the lowest management fee. 

Marketing + Third Party Maintenance and Cleaning - Some property managers will handle marketing and bookings but refer maintenance and cleaning out to companies they know.  Since they know these companies, they normally handle the communications with them, so you don’t need to.

Full-Service - A full-service manager will handle everything needed to run an efficient and successful vacation rental company, including:

  • Photography, listings & marketing
  • Managing guests from booking to checkout, including guest screening, inquiries and handling any complaints
  • Generating & responding to guest reviews
  • Scheduling maintenance & inspections, and responding to guest emergencies
  • Revenue management & pricing

Fees are inevitable with property management – typically between 10% and 50% of your gross vacation rental revenue - so you want to be sure the fee structure is explained thoroughly, and that you understand what’s included and where.  Sometimes there are hidden fees that end up negating the original lower rate offered by the company.

Hidden fees to watch out for and ask about can include:

  • Marketing
  • Maintenance & Supplies
  • Housekeeping
  • Linens
  • Welcome Amenities/Amenity Re-stocking
  • Credit Card Fees
  • Laundry
  • Shine & Clean
  • Caretaking

There are some things you should expect to see a separate fee for, such as maintenance or repairs that require a licensed professional or hot tub/pool maintenance & cleaning.  Another thing you should ask about is how any cleanup and/or repairs following one of our frequent summer thunderstorms, a tropical storm or hurricane will be handled.

You’re going to need to do some homework and interviewing, but with Hilton Head Island being such a popular vacation rental destination, you’ll be able to find a quality property management company that will provide you with the service and level of care you’re looking for.

Happy renting!

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