Will I need property management if I will be renting my house out to vacationers?
No but Yes.
Unless you like to be woken up in the middle of the night being asked how to work the washing machine or where are the extra batteries to the TV remotes or being told the neighbors are a little loud can you let them know we are trying to sleep or you are told the toilet keeps running and you need to call your plumber. We strongly suggest to let a property manager handle it.
Which Property Management Company Should I use?
It depends where you buy, there are over 200 property management companies near Disney and many of them focus in certain areas or subdivisions. We have a list of property managers we think put their owners first we'll share with you.
What are the Best Rental Areas?
Based on Mickey Homes Rental Requests the 34747 area code in Kissimmee is the best area for short term rentals. The reason is because it’s the closest allowed vacation rental area to Disney ( there is only a 12 mile radius area in Central Florida that allows vacation short term rentals ) 34747 has the most Shopping and Restaurants a short distance away from the homes. Note the closer the house is to Disney the nightly rental rate is higher, the % of occupancy is higher and the sales prices for homes are higher as well.
There are around 20 brand new vacation communities and resorts being built with only 7 we highly recommend because of location, pricing, floor plans, amenities and verbiage built into their by-laws that won't hurt future re-sale values. The other 13 new communities and resorts have verbiage built into their by-laws we feel will harm re-sale values in the future. We have seen it in passed communities, not to worry we will make sure you know which ones they are. The new resort homes we recommend have Open Floor Plans, State of the art club houses, lazy rivers, water slides and are detailed to what today's vacationers want.
What rents better?
Based on the rental side of our website pool homes are more in demand. This doesn’t mean town houses or condos don't rent well it’s what we see based on how we market our website. We've sold a lot of townhouses and condos to owners who do very well, they simply chose the right property manager who focuses on that segmant of the market. We can help what ever you choose.
How can I increase my rentals?
At your get togethers back home, socials and parties with hometown friends whip out your phone and start showing everyone pictures of your Disney Vacation Home, NOT of YOUR KIDS, remember even though you love your kids they are eating you out of house and home and why a rental home near Disney checks off 2 boxes fun for the food craving family and serves as an investment.
Other ways to increase rentals is add color to the interior, get rid of the tube TVs, even better upgrade to a Smart TV at least for the living room for internet based programming like NETFLIX & Amazon. Offer a gaming system like X-BOX or PS2-4 or Wii. Convert the garage into a games room or make it a theatre room. Theme the kids bedrooms, the local Walmart and Target carry a wide range of Disney Charachters bedding, wall stickers and lamp shades. Once you have the home the way you like it make sure you hire a pro- photographer to take pictures for you because it will make a world of difference for those renters who shop on-line. Get involved, buy at least 1 VRBO or Homeaway account ($450 a year) to obtain your own bookings, make sure you or a family member answers email booking requests promptly. On your VRBO or Homeaway accounts be very detailed what your house offers in verbiage, if your home has a South Facing Pool make sure it’s written, if it has Games Room tell everyone what’s in it to detail such as you have a pool table, table tennis, air hockey table right down to the electronic dart board if you have one. If you are offering 600 count thread sheets in the Master Suite make sure you write about it. If one of the kids rooms is a Princess room and the other is a Star Wars room let the online shoppers know. Don't over price your nightly rental rates, even if you deck your house out with all of the above make sure you list it at the market rate for your neighborhood because renters know rates. Yours maybe nicer than everyone elses in the neighborhood, if you are priced competitively yours will rent out more than everyone elses. Always remember the house next door or across the street from your home is your competition, those owners may be cordial when they see you with their fake smiles but they want your rentals. Pricing it competively doesn't mean undervalue your home, don't take extremely low bookings unless it's a longer term than normal or if it's during a very slow period or if you've given in to your cheap brother in-law to stop the nagging. Remember most renters negotiate, have a firm # in your head or written down on how low you are willing to go and stick to it as best you can. If someone makes you an insultingly low offer don't even reply, just let them go or refer them with a big smile to your neighbor across the street.
What do Renters want?
If they like nice things they will pay and appreciate everything you've done. The exception to this rule are the bargain hunters/ motel 6 type renters. These folks are strictly looking for the best bang for the buck, they don't care where the house is located, if you have a games room or a south facing pool. They just want a base to sleep and eat at when they are not at the parks. Not to say that part of the market isn't profitable, there are older neighborhoods further from Disney with simpler houses priced lower to buy to attract that segmant of renters and many owners do well but it's one or the other.
How do I know my property manager is doing their job well?
It’s a gut feeling all owners have, pay attention, check in with them monthly so they know you are paying attention. If your property manager doesn't pick up their phone it usually means they are busy (their job is a hard one) but if they rarely pick up your phone call with no call you back shortly after you've left them a voice message ( 4 hours unless it is late at night ) to call you just simply ask them why? They probably have a good reason ( can't stress it enough their job is hard ) but if not and it continues we suggest interviewing someone else, we can help.
What signs do I look for to know to stay or leave my property manager?
Not picking up or returning your phone calls in a timely manner. Continuous renters complaints about cleanliness or management rudeness. Your utility bills going up but no extra income coming in for that same period. Trust your gut feeling and remember their job is very hard full of negativity from both owners and guests. Remember you are not their only owner, try to be one of their nice owners and if they are truly trying to do the best job they can they will react to your requests faster than reacting to the always grumpy owner's requests. If you feel you're just a # to them or the person you deal with is a bobble head who has no authority in regards to getting your phone calls returned in a timely matter or getting your questions answered your gut will tell you to move on. There are many property managers who take on too many properties, these managers simply can't say no to new business even though they can't handle what they already have. Be nice, give them the benefit of the doubt until your gut says enough is enough, with over 200 PMs near Disney you'll find one that will appreciate your business.
Sometimes an owner won't know they have a good PM until they get a bad one, put yourself in their shoes before letting them go by remembering your home is unique compared to the others they manage and unlike hotels there are no desk clerks to answer questions, the houses they manage are spread out, each house is different and each home owner is different. Lastly not all guests are bubbly when they arrive, the plane landed late, the kids are hungry, the rental car wasn't what they asked for and when they finally show up to your neighborhood they can't find their reservation the guard at the gates are asking for...guess who gets called?
When looking at a property manager’s contract what should I look for?
We recommend not signing a contract for over a year at a time.
We recommend not to sign if they’ve written you have to use them strictly for all your home repairs, upgrades or replacement of furniture, appliances and they are not willing to cross that phrase out of their contract. Your property manager should be your first choice but you should be able to shop them, if they know you will probably shop them they will be more competitive on pricing. Your PM should get paid for what they do but if their quotes are more than 20% higher than a reliable outside source we feel you're paying too much.
We recommend not to sign if they state you have to use them to sell your home in the future ( a classic mistake for owners because it's convenient to list the house with people you know, but ask yourself how motivated will your property manager be selling the house that gives him or her a regular monthly income?) Remember us saying "their job as a property manager is hard" multiple times, when would they have the time to market your house for sale properly and what experience do they have selling homes. We're full time Realtors, we deal with part timers with other jobs all of the time and those are the homes that get shown least and sold for less because of the lack of responsibility not being full time on the job.
We recommend not to sign if they won’t allow you to obtain bookings yourself.
We recommend not to sign if they won’t allow you to take outside source bookings (like what we offer) because in our opinion they are not looking out for your bottom line.
We recommend not to sign if they have blackout dates when you can’t use your own home or not giving you the opportunity to obtain rentals yourself on those busy times of year.
We don't recommend guaranteed rental programs, simply because they black out the busiest periods of the year and pay you their guaranteed discounted rate.
If their contracts have written "they have the right to use your house 1 - 2 weeks a year rental free for marketing purposes" ask them to cross it out and initial it. If they are not willing to cross it out we strongly recommend not to sign with them, you should always get paid for any booking they put in. If this type of property manager has 2 free weeks for each of the homes they manage you can be sure those 2 weeks will always be booked and you know who is getting the money and who is not. Remember they are not your business partner, they are your manager working for you.
Do I have a choice for contractors when repairs or replacements need to be done on my home or do I have to use my property manager’s contractors?
We recommend not signing with a property manager who objects to you shopping them. If the interview went well and they have such verbiage written in their contract ask them to cross it out. We haven’t read all of our approved property manager contracts but if it was written in we feel confident they would cross such items off to remain in good standings with us and our clients.
Does my home have to be registered for vacation rentals? Yes Who does it? Usually your property manager will but you can. How much? It is $450 for the first year and $50 a year to renew it each year after. Do they inspect my home for rental approval? No, your home will be ready to rent as soon as the application with check goes into the mailbox. There are County inspectors who might check homes randomly to make sure it is up to code but it's rare unless a complaint has been made. The codes are simple, it must be clean, pest control in place, it must have emergency lighting, locks on exterior doors, utilities on, must have a door alarm to all exits to the pool area or a child proof fence around the pool for pool home rentals.
Who pays the rooms and board tax?
If your property manager obtained the rental they will collect the tax from the renter and pay it for you, if you take a booking yourself you will collect the tax from the renter and may pay the tax yourself or send the tax money to your property manager to have them pay it.
If I live outside the Country who will do my income taxes for the home?
Your property manager should have an accountant on file to help you with this, foreign national buyers will need to apply for a tax id ( ITIN#) during the process of buying the home, it’s simple and we usually help our clients with this.
Who will pay my utilities?
It depends, if you’re an owner who will be hands off than for a small fee your property manager will pay them for you under a limited power of attorney. If you are hands on person you may choose to pay them yourself because most anything can be paid online these Days.
Can I put in my own rental bookings?
Yes if you choose the right property manager who allows it.
What is the average amount of weeks I can expect my home to be rented?
The magic question, a: it depends ....how do you like that answer?
It depends on what you buy, where you buy it, the condition of the home you bought, what the home has to offer, how you dress the home up, if it’s in a resort or not and how involved you the owner will be in renting it. It’s safe to say a clean updated 4 bedroom pool home rental in a non-gated well known rental community in the 34747 area code with no owner participation should achieve 12 – 20 weeks a year. For owners who participate in obtaining rentals themselves plus taking what the property managers bring and what 3rd party sources bring ( like us and other sources) you could do over 50% occupancy. We have many owners who own multiple rental homes averaging 70% + occupancy each year, these owners are savy marketers, they know what renters want, they price the homes competitively to keep their occupancy high. We can help.
What time of year is the best rental period?
Summer in Orlando is very hot but is the steadiest/ highest rental period of the year because schools are out. Christmas and Easter provide the highest income for each of its 2 week period. We recommend taking the higher than normal income at Christmas and Easter instead of standing in lines for hours at the parks.
What is the best time of year for owners to use the home?
January, the 3rd & 4th week of May, October and the 1st and 2nd week of December.
What is the slowest time of the year?
October, this is the month you give deals to your relatives and neighbors as it is still very hot. January and February is also slow and are great times for owners to come because the weather is very comfortable and it's not a busy time at the parks with little wait in the ride lines.
How safe is the short term rental area?
Very safe, the crime one sees on the evening TV news is in Downtown Orlando area North East of Universal Studios about 30 -45 minutes away from the short term rental home area near Disney.
What if I don't want to rent my 2nd home out?
We offer a simple caretaking service for $60 a month. It's a simple walkthrough service we do every 5 -9 Days, every walkthrough we take a random picture and send it to the owner to get them excited for their next trip to Orlando. With the picture we let them know the house was fine or if we saw something that may need to be addressed we will let them know, advise them, recommend one of our fine contractors to evaluate it and give them an estimate. We have trusted a pool guy, lawn care guy, carpenter, electrician, plumber, handyman and cleaners who we use ourselves with nothing ever taken off of the top from us.
Who will I call to be my Real Estate Agent?
Alan LaFrance of course, you put up with his mis-spellings and typos this far. 407-492-7254