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There are as many Realtors on Cape Cod as there are current award winning bowls of chowder so where to start. Perhaps the one common denominator across the spectrum is the commission. While some choose to forge ahead on their own, those looking for a seamless hands off approach often rely on a local Realtor to tackle the heavy lifting which makes sense if you’re willing to hold your nose for 15 points but that heavy lifting you’ll realize in return ranges wildly from agency to agency.

Having forgotten more Realtors than I’ve worked with in 15 years, ask questions and never forget that it’s your home and they’re not making money off you without it.

In my eyes, there are three levels of agencies in terms of services provided. The first are the boutiques which specialize in unique high end homes commanding a rent based on location, location, location. Given the opportunity return, this group consists of incredibly accommodating staff which may provide concierge service, perform pre-rental walk through inspections and hand deliver keys on-site. Should things go sideways; these groups tend to have vast networks of resources to call upon.

The next group makes up the lion’s share of the mainstream service which in some cases initiate pre-season walk through inspections conducted ahead of the first rental and most likely have in house or third party contacts to address issues should they arise. Not unlike the boutiques, this niche is proactive in the area of conflict resolution and typically has a small in-house maintenance staff and/or a solid third party network.

The last group makes up the check holders. While in some cases you may find a 9%-12% commission structure, there’s a reason for that. These shops are aimed at owners who have a cleaning company in hand and let the chips fall where they may. Their heavy lifting consists of posting pictures of your home on their website and holding the deposit check until the key is returned. In the event of an issue, this group will simply give you a buzz and let you know that your AC failed or the cleaner hadn’t shown up. In these cases, there is often times a waning incentive to become proactive in that your commission has been accounted. In virtually all cases, there are no external third party resources to call upon.

Ask the hypothetical questions before paying someone to benefit from your home. Whichever way you decide to go, find your own local resource. This isn’t a shameless plug as you can’t throw a ping pong ball into a prevailing wind without hitting a property management company. While these groups line up in similar categories, it’s a good idea to have a fall back. Some of these groups work on a will call basis while others have a fee structure and still others issue contracts; shop around and always confirm the license, bonds and insurance each maintains.

Having watched the trends over the past 15 years, a good rule of thumb for those just dipping a toe in the rental market is to dial into a solid Realtor for simple exposure and experience on the ownership end. With a season under their belts, most home owners test the waters of self marketing such as We Need A Vacation. Aside from the additional exposure, rentals gained in this capacity put the commission back in your pocket but again, flying solo means the need for someone solid on the ground.

Lay down the law. Take the time to create a solid binder of house rules, trash-pick up times, contact info, area attractions, etc. Renters typically bring their own novels so don’t develop another. The first page should contain the pertinent information. If they can’t figure out how to turn on the cable and TV at the same time, they’ll dig for those mundane tasks.

Leave a guest book and a means to attract contact information. With an email address or mailing address claiming you’ll keep them posted of next year’s availability will open the door to direct contact, thus forgoing the commission hit should they decide to repeat, and also lends insight to the good, bad or indifferent in regards to each experience during a particular stay. This could be a bad mattress or a loose brick on the front step but the premise is to constantly create a better experience through user information. Good luck!