When people think of buying a vacation home in Florida, many often envision a house or condo on the beach. Although Orlando is located in the center of Florida -- more than an hour away from the beach -- it’s one of the nation’s most popular vacation destinations.
In 2014, Orlando broke records by becoming the first U.S. city to surpass the 60 million visitor mark when a whopping 62 million tourists from across the globe made their way to check out the many Orlando attractions. In 2015, Orlando surpassed the 66 million tourist mark. That translated into 32 million nights where guests stayed in a hotel room, motel room, or vacation home.
With so much tourist demand in Central Florida, it's no surprise that Orlando, Kissimmee, and St. Cloud are prime locations for buying a vacation rental property. In fact, in the City of Orlando, the median home price in 2016 was $233,130, while the average home price of $158,200 reflects a 10.3% jump over the prior year's average real estate figures. This reflects a very significant increase in sale price and value (and a 100% increase over the market's low point in mid-2011), which is great news for current vacation homeowners.
So if you’ve recently bought a vacation home in the Orlando area, you can be confident that you've acquired a great property with lots of potential for profit. But actually managing that property can be a tremendous challenge, especially if you live in a different state or even in a different country.
That's where an Orlando property manager can come into play. But, as with many products and services, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Each property manager or property management firm is somewhat unique in terms of their offerings.
So what points should you consider as you search out a property manager for your Orlando vacation rental home? What questions do you ask? And how much will it cost to hire a property manager? This guide has everything you need to know about hiring a property manager for your Orlando vacation home.
Home to huge tourist attractions like Disney World, Orlando vacation rentals have the potential for significant profit when managed effectively. Image: Flickr CC user Anthony Quintano
Why Do I Need an Orlando Property Manager for My Vacation Home?
A significant portion of Orlando's tourists are families, and many families -- especially larger ones -- are far more comfortable renting a vacation home instead of packing the entire family into a hotel room (or three). In fact, for some large families, it can be more economical to rent a vacation home instead of getting multiple rooms or a large suite at one of the large hotels and resorts. But it can be challenging to rent to families, especially those with young children. In fact, it can be difficult to manage any home from a distance, even one that's not rented out to guests.
So if you're on the fence and are unsure if a property manager is the right choice for your home, consider some of the unique obstacles and issues that Orlando vacation homeowners face and how a property manager can help you to overcome these challenges.
Greeting the guests and building rapport. When you have a property manager overseeing your Orlando vacation home, you can ask them to greet the guests upon arrival, in addition to performing a check-in mid-way through their stay. Your property manager can also bring along a small gift basket or other welcoming gift, like a few one-day passes to Disney parks. This is a great opportunity for you to build rapport with the guests, giving them a feeling of a more personalized experience, which can lead to more positive online reviews and an increased number of repeat bookings.
Overseeing marketing. Orlando is actually quite unique when compared to the rest of Florida. In the rest of Florida (and much of the southern United States, for that matter), the prime season for tourism is from late fall through early spring -- generally, October up until April. This is when the seasonal residents and individuals who live in colder winter climates make their way down to enjoy the warmer weather of Florida.
But Orlando's prime season varies quite significantly. Generally, Orlando's peak season for tourism is the 21 weeks out of the year when the children are out of school, including the summer and the traditional school vacation breaks in December, February, and April. This means that Orlando vacation homes require a unique marketing strategy. One that must be timed in a manner that's very different from the strategies that you might use for vacation homes in other Florida destinations. But once you find the right property manager for your home, you can maximize bookings in your rental home, which means more income for you.
Noticing damage to the home and furnishings. Guests with children tend to be more likely to damage furniture, flooring, or other areas of the property. But if you live far away and cannot visit to inspect the home between guest stays, then it becomes virtually impossible to determine who caused damage to the property and its furnishings. Your property manager can inspect the property before and after each guest's visit, going through a checklist to ensure that there is no damage to the home's walls, flooring, furniture, and beyond. If evidence of damage or theft is discovered, then you'll know which guest's damage deposit should be used. At the end of the day, you'll spend less money on fixing damage caused by guests.
Reducing the potential for injuries. Kids are also more likely to get injured or get into mischief, so it's especially important that your home is in good, safe condition when the guests arrive. A property manager can help by checking on the property prior to each guest's arrival, in addition to checking in periodically to ensure everything is in order. This can reduce the potential for insurance claims, which can result in costly insurance premium hikes.
Addressing storms and wild weather. Orlando is not as prone to hurricanes as many of Florida's coastal communities. There's a reduced risk of flooding, no risk of storm surge, and a reduced risk of damage from tropical storms and hurricanes. Even so, storms can quickly change course, resulting in problems from strong winds and driving rains.
In some cases, you may have just a day or two of “lead time” to prepare for an incoming storm, which can pose a real obstacles for those who live out of state because it can be very costly and inconvenient to travel on such short notice so that you can prepare your vacation home for the storm. This is one area where a property manager can be an invaluable asset by putting up your storm shutters and preparing your home to weather the storm. This reduces your risk of seeing damage, while also decreasing your chances of seeing an insurance premium increase because you had to file a claim.
You'll also enjoy many of the other usual benefits of hiring a property manager, like having someone who can check on your home and handle repairs and maintenance on your behalf. This is especially important if you go for long periods of time without visiting your Orlando vacation home because something that starts as a small problem -- like a missing roof tile -- can quickly evolve into a major problem (like a roof leak that results in thousands in water damage and serious mold problems during Central Florida's hot and humid summer months).
Will I Lose Money if I Hire a Property Manager for My Orlando Vacation Rental?
Many property owners are very hesitant to hire a property manager because they assume they'll be spending more out of pocket without seeing an increase in the amount of income that they earn from the property. But this isn't always the case. If you hire the right property manager for your home, then you can see a win-win, where your income level either remains the same or increases.
Due to the aforementioned factors such as improved guest experience, closer attention to detail, expedited home repairs that prevent collateral damage, and more effective marketing, you can see more bookings and for a higher booking fee. This can cover the cost of your property manager and even increase the income from your vacation home.
What Should I Consider When Hiring an Orlando Property Manager for My Vacation Home?
Hiring a property manager to oversee your Florida vacation rental home can be challenging because you'll need to consider lots of different points to ensure you find someone who's a good fit.
What is the property management fee? This is a key question and a primary point of concern for many owners who are considering a property management firm for their Orlando vacation house. Most rental property managers charge a fee that's based on a percentage of the rental fee.
Generally, this fee is between 25% and 45%. On Rented.com, you can get several price quotes from local property managers for free. Some offer a traditional percentage-based split of the rental proceeds, while others offer a flat monthly rate that remains stable regardless of actual occupancy -- part of a “guaranteed income” model many property managers that Rented.com works with employ.
Notably, property management fees for vacation rentals tend to be slightly higher than those for traditional rental properties due to the greater workload associated with vacation rentals.
See below some examples of property management offers recently made for Orlando rental properties on Rented.com.
How long is the contract and what's included? It's typical for your Orlando vacation home property manager to require a service contract, which is usually 12 months in length. The length of the contract may impact the rate, with some property management firms offering a slightly lower rate to those who opt for a longer contract timeframe. You'll also want to ask if there are any additional fees or expenses that you will be responsible for paying, such as:
- Cleaning costs.
- Landscaping costs.
- Pool maintenance costs.
- Home repairs and maintenance fees.
- Marketing and advertising fees.
Typically, the property owner is still responsible for paying expenses, such as major home repairs, property taxes, homeowner's insurance premiums, homeowner's association fees, and mortgage payments.
Will your property manager oversee advertising and marketing for your vacation home? Marketing and advertising your vacation home is typically a key role that your property manager will oversee, but this isn't always the case. In some cases, the property manager may handle paid advertising but not social media marketing, for example. So you'll want to be clear on whether the property manager will oversee advertising and marketing. This may include your website and social media accounts for your vacation home, along with any independent marketing or advertising the manager would like to perform.
Advertising and marketing are especially important for Orlando vacation rentals due to the amount of competition rental homes see from hotels, particularly those in the immediate area of the theme parks. So vacation homeowners can really benefit from the expertise and experience of someone who knows how to promote your property to guests who are faced with lots of other choices.
Will your property manager oversee booking and guest vetting? If your property manager performs vetting, you may need to discuss your standards in this regard. Some property owners may opt to decline certain guests, such as college students or individuals convicted of theft-related crimes or other serious felonies. You want to ensure you're on the same page with your property manager in terms of booking and vetting and what standards you wish to enforce. Vetting tends to be less of a concern for Orlando vacation homes, which tend to be most popular among families, whereas some other regions are more popular among college students and Spring Breakers.
Does the property manager have a good reputation? You're trusting someone with your vacation home and its care, so you must be sure that you're hiring a person you can trust. They will be your representative and your eyes and ears on the ground. So take the time to do a bit of online research and make the effort to call a few references before signing a contract with an independent property manager or a property management firm.
It’s important that you find an experienced, trustworthy property manager to handle your property, especially for vacation rental property owners who cater to families with small children. You want to ensure that your home remains in good, safe condition for your guests, as this can reduce the incidence of any injuries or accidents that could increase insurance premiums in a dramatic way.
For example, if your vacation home has a pool, you’ll need to be confident knowing that your property manager has ensured that pool fences and pool alarms are in proper working order before each guest arrives. This will help ensure that your property is safe while providing you with added peace of mind.
If you're turning to a property management company, you'll want to inquire about precisely who will be handling your home. Will multiple property managers be tasked with overseeing your vacation rental or will a single individual be assigned? This is yet another important question that you should ask.
Pools are extremely popular amenities in Orlando vacation properties, and a property manager can ensure it’s maintained and safe for guests. Image: Flickr CC user Discount Vacation Rentals Online
Ready to Hire a Property Manager in Orlando?
Taking the plunge and hiring a property manager can seem a bit nerve-wracking, especially if you've always been the person to oversee your vacation home and enjoy having every aspect of the property's management and maintenance under your control.
But the right property manager can be a wonderful ally; someone who helps you secure more bookings and improves the overall guest experience while increasing your income. So it's a win-win-win scenario for you, your guests, and your property manager.
Averaging more than 60 million tourists annually, Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the United States, which gives your vacation home the potential to be quite profitable. But Orlando's vacation rental market is competitive, and it's unique in terms of what is considered its prime rental season. This means you need an experienced property manager who knows the Orlando area and knows how to make your home stand out from the dozens of other rentals and the world famous resorts and hotels situated near the theme parks.
If you're ready to make a move and hire a local property manager for your Orlando vacation home, stop by Rented.com where you can sign up for a free account and receive offers from some of the top property managers in Central Florida. Get started on Rented.com today.
Lead image: Flickr CC user Chad Sparkes