How to Find a Good STR Property Manager

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Managing short-term rentals is complex, leading many to hire property managers without understanding the intricacies involved. The blog advises owners to clarify their objectives, conduct thorough research on property managers using tools like AirDNA, and engage in detailed consultations with potential managers. It emphasizes the importance of comparing managers systematically to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the chosen manager aligns with the owner's primary goals.
How to find a good property manager

You probably already know this (or maybe you don’t), but managing short term rentals is complex. And hard. Which is one of the reasons you’re deciding to find a good property manager. Makes sense. But if it’s your first time launching a listing or the first time using professional management, there are a lot of things to know. Running your own Airbnb by yourself is one thing. The complexity is relatively benign. Once you hire a property manger, the complexity greatly increases because a manager and an owner are two different things.

You might be thinking, “No duh. Of course they’re different.” To which I might reply, “Ok then, in what ways are they different?”

I’ve found most people I talk to wouldn’t know the answer that question. They aren’t STR property managers. So they hire the first airbnb property manager they find, then they reach out to us when things aren’t going as planned. This article is intended to help prevent future mistakes by property owners hiring a manager by teaching you how to find a good STR property manager.

First, write down your main objective.

This may seem a bit silly, but putting your number one priority in writing will be helpful in the process. People choose to hire a property manager for a variety of reasons. Many have different goals. Some may say revenue is the most important objective. Others may say property care. Some might say the guest’s experience is paramount. Whatever your #1 goal is, make sure it’s written down. It doesn’t hurt to right down other ancillary goals, but keep first things first.

Second, do your own research prior to contacting a manager.

While this may seem obvious, most people consider querying google or chatGPT, “best STR property manager in XXX place” as research. It’s not. When conducting analysis, an owner should consider a few publicly available sources of data. AirDNA is one of them which shows local property managers, active listing count, whether they are growing or shrinking as a manager (RUN from anyone shrinking), quantity of guest reviews, and quality of guest reviews. Since AirDNA only displays a handful of the largest property managers, consider making your own spreadsheet combining information from Google and AirDNA using the metrics mentioned earlier. If you can’t find the info publicly, simply reach out to the property manager in question for the info. You might learn a lot by asking those simple metrics questions…

Once you’ve identified the top handful of managers, peruse their websites. Gain a sense of what their niche might be as not all property managers manage all properties. Be self-aware enough to know whether your property might, or might not, be a good fit for a niched STR property manager. For example, don’t bring your one bedroom studio apartment to a property manager who advertises as a curated luxury home property management experience. It’ll be a waste of everyone’s time and even if they do take on your listing, they likely wouldn’t do a good job.

Third, begin contacting property managers to schedule calls to get more details on their pricing and services.

Using the simple spreadsheet I mentioned earlier for identifying the best property manager, start tracking each prospective managers responses to the same questions. I recommend creating your own comparison rubric for pricing and services offered. While this seems like a lot of work (spoiler alert: it is a lot of work), it can save you a lot of headaches and money. In fact, we’ve seen clients lose more than $10,000 making a switch 😳. They were in such a bad position from the current property manager they considered it worth the cost. Switching STR property managers is NOT like switching a traditional property manager. It can be very costly.

When speaking with representatives, go through the standardized list of ‘Questions to Ask a Potential Short-Term Rental Property Manager’ and record their answers on the rubric. If they don’t have an answer, it can signify they don’t yet have a policy in place. Make sure there’s a full understanding of the question prior to proceeding.

Fourth, evaluate the information collected and revisit the first thing you did.

Relax, you’ve worked hard so far. This one is relatively easy. Simply take in all the standardized information you’ve collected and make an assessment that’s best for your situation. Should you go with a more affordable property manager who doesn’t provide quite as many services or as well? Do you select the niche operator because they have the competency and your property is a good fit? Revisiting step number one at this point is wise.

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