February 17, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Property Management Firm for Your Lake Tahoe Vacation Home

Nestled amidst the Sierra Nevada region between Sacramento and the Carson City and Reno area of Nevada, Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the nation, particularly among those in the western United States. Straddling California and Nevada, the year-round Lake Tahoe population is just over 50,000 people. During peak tourism season, though, populations can reach to more than 300,000, and it’s estimated that about 3 million people visit this area annually.

Winter tends to be prime tourist season for Lake Tahoe, which is renowned for its skiing and winter sports venues, but the summers are increasing in popularity among tourists. This makes this destination a potentially profitable one for vacation homeowners who are seeking to rent their home to guests.

It’s challenging to manage any vacation home if you live outside of the immediate area. This is especially true for Lake Tahoe, especially on the California side, which is quite mountainous and challenging to access during winter snowstorms. What’s more, Lake Tahoe is one of the most competitive vacation rental markets, which means that without the right marketing and promotion, your vacation home profits could fall woefully short of reaching their full potential.

But how do you choose a property manager? Lake Tahoe is home to hundreds of vacation homes and a number of locals offer property management services. Here is a look at what you should consider as you search out the ideal Lake Tahoe property manager for your vacation home.

Consult With References and Read Reviews

The Lake Tahoe property management industry is quite competitive, so you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to picking a property manager. Virtually all property managers have at least some marketing experience, since most handle marketing on behalf of their clients. (And in such a competitive market like Lake Tahoe, marketing is a must!)

This also means that the typical Lake Tahoe property manager is apt to be adept at marketing themselves, delivering a convincing sales pitch. In fact, evaluate how compelling their sales pitch really is. If they cannot promote themselves, then there’s a chance that they may fall short when it comes to selling bookings at your vacation home.

But sales pitches don’t always tell the whole story. You need a property manager who will really deliver. You need someone who is committed to clients and effectively maximizes bookings and profits, while simultaneously minimizing losses. You need a property manager who understands your needs and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that you and your guests are satisfied.

You can gain some wonderful insight from reviews, ratings, and references. Any reputable property manager will have no trouble providing you with a few references. Take the time to speak with these fellow property owners to find out what it’s really like to work with the property manager you’re considering.

This is extra important in a competitive market like Lake Tahoe, where guests have hundreds of vacation homes to choose from. You need someone who will get the job done while making your home stand out in all the right ways.

Ask property managers for information on a few other properties that they manage and read through the ratings and reviews for those properties. If there are negative remarks, are they a result of the property manager’s skills? These are some essential considerations, especially when you remember that most Lake Tahoe property managers work on annual contracts. So if you choose to sign that contract, you need to be confident that he or she can meet your needs, while helping you reach your financial goals for your vacation home.

The Lake Tahoe rental market is dominated by cabins and other single-family homes, so it’s important to work with a property manager who can help your home stand out from the crowd.
Image: Flickr CC user NNECAPA Photo Library

Selecting a Property Manager Who Can Help You Go Above and Beyond

Unlike other destinations like Palm Springs, there are comparatively few hotels and resorts in the Lake Tahoe region, which is dominated by cabins and other vacation homes. But this means that you have more competition, so your property manager will need to go above and beyond to market your property, secure new bookings, and manage your vacation home in a way that’s conducive to unparalleled guest satisfaction.

So how do you ensure you’re hiring a property manager who can help you compete with the Lake Tahoe ski lodges and some of the more high-end, luxurious vacation properties in the Lake Tahoe region? Consider these unique services Lake Tahoe property managers should be able to provide. If any of these are not already standard in the service contract, consider asking if they can be added before you sign. A quality property management firm should be happy to oblige.

Hot tub maintenance. Many Lake Tahoe vacation home renters expect houses to have a hot tub so skiers and snowboarders can relax those sore muscles and unwind on cold winter nights. It’s a small novelty that guests love. A hot tub requires minimal maintenance, but it’s something your property manager should oversee to ensure it’s always in good working order.

Offering firewood services to guests. If your property has a wood burning stove or fireplace, your property manager may see to it that firewood is delivered on a daily basis so guests don’t need to haul logs from the shed.

Providing fresh ice deliveries to guests. A number of lakeside properties have ice houses, which are used to store ice that’s harvested from the waters of Lake Tahoe. So this may be a fun and distinctive offering that your property manager can provide to your guests.

Providing tire chains or a four-wheel-drive vehicle to guests. If your vacation home is often difficult to access, you may discuss with a property manager the possibility of providing loaner tire chains or a four-wheel-drive loaner vehicle to your guests. Being on-call to help guests with these items could be something to be written into your service contract.

Offering discounts for local skiing and other attractions. A well-connected property manager can be worthwhile. It’s worth asking a prospective property manager if he or she has forged any partnerships with local ski resorts to offer discounts to your guests. You may opt to include a “freebie,” like two weekend lift passes when a guest books a week at your vacation home. Perks such as this can go a long way toward helping you increase your bookings, and you can use these perks to justify higher rental rates. Working with a property manager who can make this happen can be helpful so you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting to get these deals lined up.

Offering concierge services. Most Lake Tahoe hotels and ski lodges offer concierge services. Many property managers contract with a concierge service provider who can do everything from scheduling an excursion to purchasing ski passes or making dinner reservations on behalf of your guests. You can even take it a step further, providing your guests with the option to book in-home spa services, such as manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. Whether a property manager is able to line up these services for you is something to ask about before hiring.

Offering maid services. It’s common for property management firms to contract with local maid service providers, so ask in advance if your property manager has negotiated a deal for a discounted rate and which firm he or she usually works with.

Offering access to a personal chef and food delivery services. Hotels and ski lodges offer room service, and while this isn’t viable for a vacation home, you may discuss with a property manager the option of contracting with a local chef who is available for bookings on an as-needed basis. Lake Tahoe also has a couple of food delivery services, which can provide a wonderful alternative to room service. You may choose to include information on a local food delivery provider, along with a binder of menus for local restaurants. This is something your property manager could do for you, and it’s something ask about when choosing a manager who will truly go above and beyond.

Securing plowing, snowblowing, and shoveling services. Lake Tahoe sees a lot of snow, particularly in the most mountainous regions. A quality property manager can assist by securing a contract with a local plow company to plow, snowblow, or shovel your driveway and walkways. Top-rated property managers may also make a morning trip to your home when guests are present to ensure the walkways are free of ice. Ask if this is something the property manager you’re considering typically does for clients. Keeping the walkways ice and snow-free can help minimize liability by reducing the risk of slip and fall accidents.

The best Lake Tahoe property managers are those who have lots of local connections (or the willingness to forge new partnerships) so you can offer these and other offerings to your guests without breaking the bank. Since a property management firm oversees multiple properties, it can often secure these services at a discounted rate, with savings that’s passed on to you, the property owner. All of this will enhance your guests’ experience.

Choosing a Property Manager Who Is Adept at Online Marketing

Vacation rentals used to be marketed by real estate firms, in newspapers, and in-print magazines. But today, property management firms have taken over most marketing efforts, which are now largely web-based.

Some property managers will oversee the marketing and promotion of your vacation home personally, while others will hire a marketing expert to oversee your online marketing campaigns, which may span social media, classifieds, and vacation rental listing sites and pay-per-click advertising.

In highly competitive rental markets like Lake Tahoe, you’re not just selling a stay in your vacation home; you’re selling an experience. So your marketing must convey that experiential element of the equation, whether it’s in photos, text, videos, or another medium.

Online marketing can quickly turn into a money pit that provides little return if you lack the experience and insight. So it’s essential that you work with a property manager who knows what it takes to market your vacation home or is willing to subcontract the task to someone who specializes in online marketing and social media campaigns. This is not a task for someone who is inexperienced; otherwise, you may spend far more than necessary on online marketing, while generating minimal results.

In a hyper-competitive market such as Lake Tahoe, your property manager must understand the importance of the right marketing strategy, combined with other essentials, such as home staging, professional photography, aerial drone videos, virtual tour videos, and other high-tech tools that can be used to promote your property in an effective manner.

Something as simple as the right photographs can make all the difference. You need images that will capture attention of prospective guests, while effectively conveying the experiential element of the equation and helping your home to stand out from the crowd that is the Lake Tahoe vacation rental marketplace.

It’s wise to ask your property manager to provide you with examples of online marketing campaigns that he or she has overseen. This may include websites, landing pages, social media campaigns, and ad campaigns. Make note of how appealing and effective these marketing materials are as a whole. Also, remember to inquire about whether marketing and advertising costs are included in your service contract or if these are billed separately.

How Much Income Can I Expect If I Hire a Lake Tahoe Property Manager?

Many vacation homeowners think they’ll lose money by hiring a property manager, but that’s not the case. In fact, most property owners see an increase in revenue as a result of a property manager due to more bookings and enhanced services for guests.

So what kind of rental income can you expect to make? There are a few different ways to gauge this. First, our income calculator can be a good starting point for you to get an idea of what you could potentially make. The rental grader allows you to compare your home to others in the area to get an idea of income potential.

Next, consider the fees. Many property managers charge commission on rental income. So, for vacation homes in a mountain setting, like Lake Tahoe, you can expect to pay 30-35% of your rental revenue in fees for full-service property management.

One unique thing about the property managers Rented.com works with is many of them offer something called a guaranteed income model. With this model, property owners are guaranteed a set monthly income regardless of bookings.

Here are a few of the offers that Lake Tahoe vacation homeowners have received on Rented.com:

Ready to Connect With the Perfect Lake Tahoe Property Manager?

Finding the right property manager to suit your unique needs can be a challenge. But there is help! At Rented.com, you can sign up for free and begin getting offers from some of the region’s most sought-after property managers. Start your search for the perfect Lake Tahoe property manager today at Rented.com.

Image: Pixabay user tpsdave

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