Call Us Today! 813-477-4288
T.J. Tompkins - Realtor - "Specializing in Rental & Property Management Since 1977"

Tampa Property Management Education

Services For Owners

Available Housing

Information For Renters

Other Information


How to Furnish Your Tampa Vacation Rental for Under $1,000

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | February 04, 2016


A question that often comes up is: do I need to spend thousands of dollars to furnish a home to make it ready as a Tampa  vacation rental? No, you do not want to do that.

Furnishing Your Tampa Vacation Rental

Personally, I furnish my own vacation rental homes by going to yard sales and estate sales in an effort to pick up everything I need. It’s more cost effective to stick to used furniture. I have literally spent under a thousand dollars furnishing my rental properties. High grade mattresses are important, high grade sheets and linens are important. However, the furniture is not as important. You don’t want a $5,000 couch in your vacation rental because if someone spills a cup of coffee on it, you’ll probably get upset about that. You want a $200 couch instead. As a property owner, you don’t want to get anxious about trivial things. That’s why it’s better to have disposable things.

There are auction houses that specialize in estate sales, and these places can help you furnish your vacation rental. They will go into a house and buy everything, then auction it off. You can buy a whole house full of furniture for under a thousand dollars. This is how I would handle buying furniture and fixtures and dishes, pots and pans. There’s really no need to buy anything new. We recommend you keep your furniture cheap and simple.

How to Furnish Your Tampa Vacation Rental for Under 1000There will always be the opportunity to upgrade after you’re producing income and feeling more comfortable and confident. At that point, you’ll be able to watch the estate sales and Craigslist and you’ll be in a position to acquire a better couch and a better bedroom set. It’s not necessary to start off at the top of the line.

I have the names and phone numbers of different auction houses in the area, and I would be happy to help you find the right furnishings for a good price. If you’d like more information, please contact me at HomeSeekers.

Tampa Vacation Rental Security Deposits 101: Best Practices When Renting Out Your Home

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | January 27, 2016

Today we are sharing some best practices when it comes to vacation rental security deposits. Usually, we collect a $200 deposit at the time of booking. Within 15 days of arrival, the tenants must pay the entire cost of the stay in advance. We do this so we know the funds clear before they arrive.

When the tenants leave, we like to refund their deposit within a day. Our agreement states that we have up to two weeks to refund that deposit, but we don’t like to make them wait. Once we quickly inspect the property, we cheerfully refund the deposit, usually within 24 hours. Sometimes the tenants leave the place so clean that we can’t even tell someone has been staying there. In those cases, we send the tenants a letter thanking them for staying. We ask them to leave an online review in our guestbook and then we tell them that because they left the property so clean, we will not require a deposit for their next stay with us.

For my personal properties, I go even a step further. I collect the $200 booking deposit but then I apply it towards the rent. This gives me a strong competitive advantage. I ask my guests to sign a contract and agree to Tampa Vacation Rental Security Deposits 101 Best Practices When Renting Out Your Homeallow me to charge their credit card up to $500 for any damages to the property and then I waive the deposit requirement. Instead, I put it towards the overall rent. This practice has never created problems for us and our guests are always very pleased and happy with it. It gives me additional bookings and it’s a policy that others just can’t match.

Please contact us at HomeSeekers if you have any questions about how to manage vacation rental security deposits or about Property Management in general.

How to Find Guests for Your Tampa Vacation Property – Florida Property Management Education

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | January 20, 2016

Today we are talking about how to find guests for your vacation property in Tampa. There are a number of different ways to reach people.

Online Presence

According to studies and reports I’ve read, in Europe 80 percent of the vacation bookings come within two hours of tourists arriving in a particular city. In the U.S., there’s a lot of that happening as well. Half of the bookings for vacation rentals come from people who are driving down the interstate, searching for places to stay on their smart phones. Once they find a place to rent, they will often have that place booked within an hour or two of arriving. This illustrates the need for Internet exposure. It’s the most important resource you can use to find short term guests for your property.

Advertising

Along with Internet exposure, you need to advertise widely. There are a number of excellent websites that people use when they’re looking for vacation properties, including Home away, VRBO and Airbnb. Make sure your property is listed on these sites and this can help you find guests a lot easier.

Repeat Business

Most of my guests are repeat customers. We treat them right the first time they stay with us and we are also How to Find Guests for Your Tampa Vacation Property – Florida Property Management Educationquick to refund their deposits. We know they receive excellent service from us, so we solicit good reviews and offer them deals when they come back. This gives us a competitive advantage because most of our customers come back every year.

There are a number of trade secrets that I won’t disclose at this time, but if you want to talk to me, I’ll do my best to help you. Please contact us at HomeSeekers for more information or help in finding guests for your short term vacation rental property. We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Set a Rental Price for My Tampa Vacation Home

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | January 13, 2016

Today we are talking about how to determine the value or rental price of your vacation rental. This is a very important part of getting it on the rental market, and it’s not an easy task. I’m going to tell you the way I handle this for own properties.

First, I carefully analyze what other properties are going for on sites like VRBO and Home Away. This gives me an idea of what the market will bear and what property owners are asking. Sometimes people will ask thousands a month for a three bedroom house and when I check their calendar, they are unoccupied 75 percent of time. That tells you the price is probably too high.

In my experience, it’s best to start off below market value in order to get booked up. I might start my property off at $750 a week just to get customers and stay booked. If I can get to 50 percent or 60 percent booked, I’ll raise prices to what the market will bear. That means I might go to $850 or $950. Even if I know I could be getting $1,000 or $1,050 per week, I start off low to ensure maximum occupancy. You want to be quick to refund a guest’s deposit, and you also want to solicit reviews because most of your customers will come back year after year.

How to Set a Rental Price for My Tampa Vacation HomeIn the summer, rates will always be cheaper in Tampa because it’s the off season. Most travelers looking for properties to rent are coming from South America and Europe. It helps to offer a summer discount. You might also get a lot of people from out of town looking for short term rentals as they attend school for graduate work or special projects. Summer rates will be a better value. Monthly rates might go to $2,000 a month in the summer when in the winter you can set a rental price of $3,500 or $4,000 for the same property.

We would be glad to help you determine the value of your vacation rental. Please contact us at HomeSeekers, and we will do our best to answer your questions.

How Security Deposits Should be Handled in Your Tampa Vacation Home

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | January 07, 2016

Our topic today is the best practices when it comes to deposits for vacation rentals. Usually, we collect a $200 deposit at the time of booking. Within 15 days of a guest’s arrival, we require the entire stay to be paid for. We do this so we know the funds clear before they arrive.

When the tenants leave, we like to refund their deposit within a day. Our agreement states that we have up to two weeks to refund that deposit, but we don’t like to make them wait. Once we do a quick inspection and verify nothing has been damaged, we cheerfully refund the deposit within 24 hours. At that point, we thank the guests for staying. Often, people will leave the property in excellent condition. It’s always a nice surprise when you can’t even tell that someone has stayed there. In those cases, we ask for an online guestbook review and include in the email to our tenant that because they left the property in such great condition, they won’t be required to leave a deposit the next time they stay. This is always appreciated by our guests, and I believe it contributes to our high rate of repeat customers.

How Security Deposits Should be Handled in Your Tampa Vacation HomeFor my personal properties that I rent out, I go even a step further. I collect the $200 booking deposit but then I apply it to the rent. This gives me a strong competitive advantage. Instead of using that money as a deposit, I have a contract that my guests sign that allows me to charge their credit card for up to $500 if there are any damages to the property. When they are willing to do that, I waive the $200 deposit requirement and put it towards the overall rent. It gives me additional bookings and it’s a hard policy for others to match.

If you have any questions about how to handle your deposits on short term vacation rentals, please contact us at HomeSeekers, and we’d be happy to help you.

How to Successfully Manage a Tampa Vacation Rental Property

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | December 30, 2015

Lots of people ask how they should manage their Tampa vacation rental. This is not an easy task and there’s a very steep learning curve. Here are a some simple tips you can use to help you succeed.

Response Time

From years of experience I have found that it’s critical to answer the inquiry within an hour or two of receiving it. Industry wisdom is that you’ll get the booking if you answer right away. I have found this to be true. If it takes you a day or two to get back to a person, you aren’t going to get that booking. Instead, you’ll be lucky to get a booking from 10 percent of your inquiries.

Preparing the Property

Your home has to be ready. Good property management means getting the place ready for guests within 24 hours of your previous guest leaving. Set the air conditioning at a comfortable level, turn on any welcoming lights and leave a little hospitality basket on the table. I like to leave a collection of sweet and savory things as a present to welcome new guests.

Follow Up

When a tenant leaves the property, we follow up with an email thanking them for the stay. We ask for a review, and then we How to Successfully Manage a Tampa Vacation Rental Propertyrefund any deposits that are owed to them. We also complete an immediate clean up so that the place is ready for the next guest.

This is a very time consuming endeavor and if you can’t manage it easily, you shouldn’t have vacation properties on the market. I belong to the Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association and by attending their meetings I have gathered many tips on how to manage vacation rentals. I’d be happy to share some of that knowledge with you, so please contact us at HomeSeekers if you have any questions or you’d like more information about Tampa vacation rental property management.

How to Convert My Long Term Tampa Rental Property into a Vacation Rental

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | December 24, 2015

 

I often get asked if it makes sense to convert a long term Tampa rental to a short term vacation rental. I can say it definitely does make sense, and that answer comes from personal experience.

About five years ago, I started leasing my own properties to short term vacationers. The results I’ve had from these rentals far surpassed my greatest expectations. This took me by surprise because these are ordinary, every day blue collar family homes that I was renting for $800 a month. Now that I have converted them to vacation rentals, I get around $800 a week for the same properties.

Short term rentals take a lot of work, and these are not easy properties to manage. There are sales taxes and bed taxes you have to pay every month. Inquiries come in every single day and you need to respond to them right away. But, you can’t go wrong by doing it.

The size of the market is different than it is with long term rentals. As a long term rental, the marketplace for your property is only as big as your city. As a vacation rental, the marketplace is as big as the whole world. Half of our guests come from overseas and a lot of our visitors are also local and from out of town. Some of our short term tenants are looking to relocate or How to Convert My Long Term Tampa Rental Property into a Vacation Rentalthey might be nurses coming into the area for training or teachers arriving to get a degree. We rent short term to doctors at the university as well.

From personal experience, I can tell you that converting to short term vacation rentals works. I am 100 percent booked up and now I find myself turning away nearly everyone who inquires because I don’t have any inventory. If you want to double or triple your income, consider converting your long term rental to short term vacation housing. Contact us at HomeSeekers, and we can help you do this.

How to Choose a Property Management Company to Manage My Tampa Vacation Rental

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | December 15, 2015

When you’re choosing a management company to take care of your vacation rental, I think the most important thing is experience. You want to know how many units they manage and how long have they been in business. It’s important to take a look at their statistics so you can measure the kind of success they have renting out vacation properties. This is visible to you just by looking at the occupancy calendars of the properties they manage. Find out how booked up they are. There’s a big difference in management companies that have a 25 percent occupancy rate and companies that are at 100 percent.

You also want to know if the management company is licensed. It’s not a good idea to have someone who is unlicensed handling your property. Look for a property manager who is fully covered with the right insurance. You want someone with an errors and omissions plan as well as general liability coverage. Make sure the company’s employees and vendors are also properly licensed and insured. You need to know this in case there is an accident on your property. You don’t want to be responsible for it and you don’t want your own insurance policy to have to cover someone else’s blunder.

How to Choose a Property Management Company to Manage My Tampa Vacation RentalTo check out the vacancy and occupancy rates of a particular management company, simply click on the button that says “see all my rental vacancies” on VRBO. Look at each calendar and you’ll see the professional status of the rental company you’re considering hiring. If they have 300 units and they’re only 50 percent full, you know your property has a good chance of being in that same situation – empty.

It can be tough to make an intelligent decision on this matter. If you have questions, or you’d like some help, please contact us at Home Seekers.

How to Select the Best Tenants for My Tampa Home – Florida Property Management Education

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | December 09, 2015

At HomeSeekers, we have managed single family homes since 1977. Today we are talking about finding a tenant, which is the most important and often the most difficult thing for a property manager to do. It’s too easy to be a nice guy or to trust someone because you want to believe their story. Everyone likes helping other people but in this business, you can’t do that. It’s hard to tell people no, but it’s often required.

Credit History

The most important tool we use when screening to find the best tenant is an applicant’s credit history. A fast rule we have in place is that a credit score of at least 600 is required in order to rent one of our homes. Sometimes, an owner can talk us into accepting someone who has a score of less than 600 if they pay the first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit. Otherwise, tenants with poor credit scores often create problems. If someone is not interested in maintaining good credit, chances are good that person is not going to be the best tenant.

Criminal Background

We also collect a criminal and civil history nationwide. If someone has been evicted before, we know that person is not going to be a good tenant for us. We are very clear that we won’t accept pedophiles or people with extensive criminality in their backgrounds. We look closely when we’re making a decision.

Selecting a tenant isn’t strictly a science. You cannot make a decision based only upon written criteria. It’s somewhat of an art How to Select the Best Tenants for My Tampa Home Florida Property Management Educationform. We like to get a feel for tenants and then make a decision. Sometimes, the best tenants maybe had a foreclosure or their credit was less than perfect because of a divorce, an accident or an injury. These are tough decisions that need to be made, and we’re good at it. We’ve been doing this for many years and a lot of our tenants have been with us for years. We love our tenants and we believe in maintaining long term, mutually respectful relationships with them.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at Home Seekers. We’d be happy to tell you more.

Why Choose HomeSeekers to Manage Your Tampa Vacation Rental Property

Posted by in Tampa Property Management Education | December 04, 2015

On our blog today, I’d like to share some reasons for why you would want to work with HomeSeekers. First, we are a small company similar to a boutique that can give you highly personalized service. We’re also selective about who we work with, and we limit the number of properties to make sure everyone gets excellent service.

Selective About Properties and Tenants

We are very selective about which owners and properties we work with. We won’t agree to work with everybody, and troubled properties are not our specialty. We have the same approach with tenants and applicants. We choose to be very picky. Just because an owner wants someone in the house right away doesn’t mean we will accept questionable tenants. There are high standards in place and they must be met.

Manageable Work Load

At Home Seekers, we don’t handle a lot of properties. I am semi-retired and I love property management because it’s all I’ve ever done. Even more than managing properties, we love to take care of short term vacation rentals. We’ve had the opportunity to meet neat people, and I can travel a lot through the exchanges we do.

It’s important to really think about whether you would be better off dealing with a company that has 500 or 600 properties. Why Choose Home Seekers to Manage Your Tampa Vacation Rental PropertyWe see management companies like this and we watch the inventories online to see what they’re renting for. If a company has 50 or 60 vacancies, that’s a good indicator of how much attention your property will get from that property manager. Right now, we have no vacancies. That says a lot about the time and attention we give to our properties.

When you work with us, you’ll get 100 percent of my attention. That goes for the managing, advertising, showing and selecting the very best tenant. Consider this before you hire us or anyone else.

If you have any questions about the services we provide and the work we do, please contact us at HomeSeekers.