I’ve been following a very interesting debate in one of the Facebook groups that I'm a member of. An interesting discussion developed a while back over the interpretation of what is deemed to be an Owner Managed versus an Owner Operated rental management program.
The debate focused on topics such as - defining the right terminology for Owner Operated versus Owner Managed.
Questions and opinions have been flying around like crazy, and because the Algarve is a choice destination for many, and there’s loads of both registered and unregistered rentals around, I believe this may be a topic of interest to anyone that owns a local property that they rent out either short-term or long-term. I found it interesting, trust that you will to.
I have always referred to my business as being "100% Owner Managed". At the same time, I consider a property being “Owner Operated” a process where the owner is directly involved in the rental process. Although, I acknowledge that there are different levels of involvement on the part of 'property owners' depending if they live near the property or far from the property.
Another aspect that is important to take cognizance of is the fact that although many owners have full time jobs, they still manage their properties on a part-time basis. They handle all the marketing and most activities related to the property. I consider them to be "owner managed", yet at the same time, they need local help to assist, which the owner also manages. There is a personal connection from inquiry to the post-stay guest review – so yes, in these instances the property is indeed “owner managed”.
Nonetheless, when large-scale management offices / agents in complexes are involved with the responsibility to oversee everything – in this instance, the owner is completely "hand off". In this case, the property is “Agent Managed”.
For example, the property manager is then responsible for maintenance, advertising, setting rates, contracts, collecting money, and everything else too. In this instance I see that these individuals are fulfilling the role of “Property Managers”, thus the Property is Agent Managed. In this case, the “guest” experience will be different as it will be much less "personal", at the same time there is great diversity in the property management field, as well.
Many property managers are good at what they do - including meet/greet guests, are available for arrangements and services during the stay, trouble shoot, etc., others are not so good.
Someone I know in my street has her own rental apartment that she "self manages", at the same time she also does property management for a couple of other rental villas. She provides a very personal touch, and she was hired as a "property manager", meaning that she has diverse tasks to "manage", but she is also a local hostess for the guests’ arrangements. She's not managing dozens and even hundreds in complexes - so that's where I draw the line on the "Vacation Rentals By Owner" subject.
In my case, I own just one property, live nearby, and I do the whole lot. I advertise my property as being "100% Owner Managed" - no middle agent. I use this as a selling point and it appeals to certain people.
We have only one property. We live a 5-hour drive from the property. I manage all advertising, booking and guest contact. My husband takes care of maintenance issues and works with contractors. We have a staff that includes a cleaning service, a 24 hour maintenance service, pool service and landscaping service. All of these report directly to my husband or me.
We also have a local person who is paid a monthly fee to act as our eyes and ears and assist with guest issues as needed. After the cleaning company prepares the house, she does an inspection looking at cleaning and maintenance issues. She is our go to person if a guest has trouble working the locks, or even needing dinner recommendations. Although I’m far away, I always send her to chat with the guests personally and I speak with them on the phone as well. We refer to her as our "Guest Manager" since she is not really managing the property and she does not receive a rental commission.
We go to the house ourselves at least quarterly to work on maintenance issues and meet with our staff.
If you own a property that you rent out, are you a Owner Manager, Owner Operator or anything in between like our “person C” example? How do you define your relationship to the management of your property rentals? From a renter's perspective, what are the most important "owner" aspects? And finally: Where does one draw the line?