Building Your Super Team as a Short Term Rental Host
How is it possible for one or two people to do everything needed to be an amazing short term rental host? Especially if you have a demanding full time job and can’t devote significant time to responding to guest messages, cleaning, doing maintenance and all the other things that you need to do to become a SuperHost? Well, the key to being successful is setting up the right automated systems and building a super team of professionals to help you. I know that may sound expensive or difficult to do but read on to find out why it can be easier than you think.
Here is our advice for who to add to your ‘Super Team’ when creating a short-term rental business:
Investor Friendly Real Estate Agent
All of your success starts off with buying the right property, in the right location with the right plan. Start by narrowing down the markets you would like to buy in to 1-3 areas. Once you find your desired markets, contact a few real estate agents that work in the area and regularly work with investors or personally invest in short-term rental properties. There are two great ways to find this type of agent! Ask for referrals from an investor that has bought in that area or find agents online who post in investor forums. One such forum is BiggerPockets.com.
When you contact these agents, don’t be afraid to interview them. If you are new to real estate, don’t be intimidated because they may know more than you. Only you know what you are looking for and you are their client, so they are just there to please YOU! Ask them about how often they work with investors, if they own properties themselves, and if they have experience buying properties to be used as short-term rentals. They may act like there isn’t a difference between traditional home buyers and investors but there certainly is, especially for short term rentals. You want an agent that is experienced in knowing the pitfalls to look out for and can spot opportunities you might not!
The other big benefit of working with an investor-friendly real estate agent is they will likely have contacts they can refer to help you start building your team. A great agent will likely know great lenders, handymen, contractors, and cleaners that can be valuable assets on your team.
Investor Friendly Lender
Finding a lender that works with real estate investors is important because not all lenders will be familiar with the programs available to incentives investments in real estate. Tax laws in the United States (and much of the world) are used to incentivize investments in real estate and starting businesses. It is essential you learn to use this to your advantage while buying, furnishing and operating your short-term rental business.
I bring this up because you don’t always need a 20% down payment or the 25% down payment “required” for investment properties that you see many places. Our favorite way to purchase properties as a short-term rental is using a 2nd home or vacation home loans. Many lenders will offer loans for a vacation home for 10% down as long as the property is at least 50 miles away from your primary residence. These loans can help us because they typically don’t come with any stipulations against using the property for short term rentals!
Often times, local lenders can offer you the best programs because they are familiar with the market and have more flexibility in their offerings than large national banks. Reaching out to several local banks and credit unions can help you find a lender that can offer a solution to your unique situation and the property you are looking for.
You may also be able to start by looking for a lender first and asking them for recommendations on agents that work with a lot of investors.
Handymen and Contractors
You will often need two types of people to help you with maintenance and renovation projects. A ‘jack of all trade’s’ handyman will be excellent at the smaller projects and routine tasks that need to be completed. A contractor will typically be used for larger projects that require specialized skills or certifications like plumbing or electrical work. Contractors tend to be more expensive so you don’t want to rely on them for smaller projects.
A surprising place you may be able to find a handyman is one of your neighbors by the property. It is important to maintain a good relationship with your neighbors when you have guests coming and going on a regular basis. One way to do this is if you can get them involved and benefiting from your short term rental.
Many great short term rental destinations will have retirees or others that are happy to take on a little extra work to make some money. If any of your neighbors are willing to take on the handyman role, you get someone close by that can take on the smaller tasks and be there quickly if any of your guest run into issues during their stay. Even if they don’t have experience in some handyman tasks like light electrical or mechanical repair, almost anyone can be good at preventative maintenance like changing smoke detector batteries, changing furnace air filters, providing quick help to guests that lock themselves out or have a clogged plumbing fixture.
Finding good contractors can be difficult sometimes. I usually start by asking the other team members I have found or investors in the area if they have good referrals. Sometimes your only option is internet searches and going by any reviews you can find.
When working with a contractor (even if they come from a great referral), it is important to set up a contract with them and set expectations upfront. You will want a contract explicitly stating what will be done, when it will be complete and when payments will be made.
For large projects, it can be beneficial to set up incentives for early completion coupled with penalties for delays. Additionally, it is advisable to pay as milestones are completed and not to pay the final amount until after you or someone you trust has confirmed everything is complete and the project area has been cleaned up! Also, always ask contractors to give you receipts if you are not paying a fixed amount for materials.
Having an amazing cleaner is likely the most important part of your team and most likely, the most important piece of running a successful short term rental. Nothing will give you worse reviews or scare guests off faster than a dirty property. Cleaners are also vital as your eyes on the property between every guest to tell you about any issues. A great cleaner will be proactive in telling you what essentials need to be restocked and ideally willing to go get supplies or accept deliveries and bring them to your properties.
You can ask your real estate agent or other investors you know for referrals but if this doesn’t provide any good leads, we suggest using one of the apps that caters to short term rental hosts and cleaners. We love using TurnoverBNB and discuss it further here! TurnoverBNB will help you connect with cleaners in your area who specialize in short term rental cleanings and facilitate automating your cleaning process.
With TurnoverBNB you can create a cleaning check list for each turnover and have your preferred cleaner automatically notified of each turnover needed. Cleaners are able to upload pictures of any damages and of the final clean property. The app will also facilitate automatic payments to your cleaner when the job is complete so it’s one less thing you need to remember. There are other similar apps you can try, but TurnoverBNB has worked best for us!
When finding a cleaner it is important to understand their experience with short term rentals, their availability/work load and comfort in being your boots on the ground at the property. If you want consistent 5 star reviews, your cleaner needs to understand how vital it is that the property is spotless for each guest and that the turnover must be complete before the next guest arrives.
Additionally, you need to be confident the cleaner has capacity to do your turnovers. In many markets, the majority of turnovers are on Sunday. You don’t want to be in a situation where your cleaner has 4 same day turnovers on one day and can’t complete yours. Some cleaners work with a group or have others they can call on in situations like this. Others have arranged with their clients to allow for 2 or more days to clean if there is not a same day turn needed.
Finally, your cleaner is going to be the person at your property most often. You need them to tell you if anything is broken, needs to be restocked, or about potential problems and opportunities. A great cleaner will head off problems before they occur and be able to complete small side projects or errands that come up. As such, it is important to treat your cleaners well and try to be their favorite client! Some ways of doing this are paying immediately, communicating expectations well and giving bonuses for good work. We have seen giving bonuses after each 5 star review, at the end of the busy season or at the end of the year work well. We believe this is a great way to forge a strong relationship with your cleaners!
If you think you need interior decorating or furnishing help check out our services to add The Furnished BNB to your super star team!