In our last post we talked about having your home monitored while you are away on vacation or away on an assignment for your employer. Vacant Home Property Management is also important from an insurance perspective. The next question that many people have is what should they expect to pay for this kind of service. We find that many people do not have any idea of what this service costs and are surprised when they receive a quote. They may be already stretched when it comes to paying for their vacation and then the charges for home property management are added. It is just too much and they decide to pursue other ideas for someone to look after their home, whether it is friends or family. Note that if you are away for work related purposes, most employers will allow you to expense any charges for looking after your home.
What factors go into determining the appropriate charges?
If you have ever hired a repairman to come and fix an appliance, then you already know that they charge a high fee just to show up at your home and then for the time to repair your appliance. In this situation of property management, the property manager is not in your home for any significant period of time. They need to check the security of your home; they need to confirm the heating system is working and that there are no water leaks. In addition they will collect news papers and flyers and perform any other special duties that you may need and have placed on your contract. This is what most people think about and consider that the charges should be based on and yes they are partially correct.
Most people fail to fail to consider travel time to and from your home. This can vary a great deal depending on where you live relative to the property management firm. In addition there are charges to cover wear and tear on a vehicle and gasoline charges to drive to your home. Most property managers must also charge the appropriate taxes for state or local provincial authorities. These charges can add up especially if you live some distance from the property management firm.
Charges for Other Services
Aside from the basic charge for a visit to your home to check on the security of your home and meet the requirements of your insurance company, many people require additional services as well. Depending on how long you will be away, you may need someone to cut the lawn or clear snow from the driveway. In dry periods, the lawn may need to be watered and if you are away for a long period, hedges may need to be trimmed as well. Most property managers are comfortable with sending pictures to customers, prior to any additional work being undertaken.
In one situation that we came across, a customer had hired a property manager for a year to manage a home. During that time the shrubs grew a great deal and really needed to be trimmed to keep the home looking as if it was well looked after. We simply took pictures of the offending shrubs and allowed the home owner decide on what they wanted to have done. In some cases home owners will do nothing while others will be comfortable with the work being completed. This work is in addition to the visitation charge and usually is based on an hourly rate. Always ask for a quote prior to agreeing to have the work completed. This applies to all other charges, whether it is snow removal, pool maintenance and lawn care.
If you are concerned about the charges for home property management, ask the property manager to explain the charges and ask for several quotes prior to agreeing to hire a specific company. Also make sure you have a signed contract that clearly specifies the charges as well as the detailed services that are going to be provided. If they are not on the contract, chances are that they will not be provided. If you ask for these services to be added after the contract is signed, chances are that this will involve additional charges.
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