Q. What owner fees are charged by North County Property Group?
Q: Are there any upfront fees to start with North County Property Group?
A: The upfront work involved in listing a vacation rental is substantial, from taking professional photographs, setting rates, syndicating the listing to multiple vacation rental platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, etc.) and generating a renter’s guide with arrival instructions for finding, accessing, and utilizing the property during their stay. As such, a nominal $150 startup fee is charged to get the process going after a property management agreement is signed. The only other upfront charges would be if we are asked by an owner to manage home improvement projects to make their home “rent ready”.
Q: Will you list my property if I only want to rent for a short period of time?
A: Sometimes we get asked to list homes as vacation rentals for a very short period, for example only 3-6 months during the summer or while an owner is away on vacation themselves. North County Property Group is willing to consider such listings, but it is a lot of work for both the owner and us to prepare the property and build the listing for such a short duration. Further, such a scenario can be challenging to obtain bookings because vacation rentals tend to build rental momentum over time, as prospective guests can read reviews and see that bookings are blocked on the rental calendar. For limited time duration, therefore, the startup fee is $250 and the property management fees are 30% of net rent on each rental booking.
Q: How is rent collected and when do I get distribution of my owner funds?
A: North County Property Group handles the collection of rent from the renter in stages based on the time in advance of the reservation date. 50% of the reservation is collected at the time of booking with the balance of rent and all fees due 30 days before the dates of stay. The renter payments are deposited into the North County Property Group Broker Trust Account. We pay ourselves our fees and disperse your owner payment to you in the month following the month of the dates of stay. You'll get a monthly statement on all financial activity related to your property and your owner disbursement by the 10th day of each month after the closing of our monthly accounting cycle. These reports are available to you online at any time through the Owners Portal on the NCPG website so you can keep up on what's going on at any time.
Q: What steps do you take to get my property rented?
A: This is an age of new online marketing tools and social media to promote properties. North County Property Group leverages all methods through our exclusive 10-Point Marketing Program
. This means we get your property marketed quickly through online rental platforms (Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, TripAdvisor, etc.), MLS, social media, signage if allowed, corporate networking, and other actions to fill open dates on the property calendar.
Q: How do you go about setting the rates for your property listing?
A: The terms “Base Rates”, “Channel Markup”, and “Payout” are used within our program to describe how your rental rates are set and how much you can expect to receive from each booking. Base Rates are agreed with each owner for their respective property for each seasonal time period. These are the rates North County Property Group will use to calculate the “Channel Markup” needed to normalize pricing offered to the public on the various Online Platforms. “Owner Payout” is the amount the owner receives from each booking, calculated as the Base Rate less North County Property Group commissions, pricing adjustments, and property expenses.
Q: What is Yield Management and how does it work?
A: North County Property Group provides a yield management tool called Beyond Pricing for all our owners, included in our property management services. Similar to the tools that power hotels and airline pricing, Beyond Pricing sets and manages participating home rates based on a dynamic algorithm that tracks supply and demand for every night of the year, as well as comparable market factors particular to a home: special events, seasonality, day of the week, etc. As a homeowner, this means your rates may fluctuate for confirmed rentals. Rates for a given span may change day to day based on the algorithm powering the pricing tool. Be advised we will set conservative minimum pricing rules for each home in this system, so you will not see prices that fall drastically below what we have agreed upon. In fact, the tool tends to price higher than we would anticipate for some periods, especially during holidays and high demand local events. We will launch your rental home after a thorough analysis of this revenue management tool, and we always keep a dedicated eye on the Beyond Pricing engine in order to program it according to each home's specifications.
Q: How are linens, towels, and supplies handled at my property?
A: In order to meet the demands of same day departure/arrival, comply with bed bug laws, and standardize our cleaning turn process, North County Property Group provides hotel quality linens, towels, and supplies for your property at no cost to you. We accomplish this by adding a small surcharge/transaction fee to the rental charge to be paid by the renter on each booking. Utilizing our linens, towels, and supplies are a big cost savings for you since linens/towels have an average lifespan of about 6 months to a year in a typical rental property.
Q: What personal belongings should I remove and what can be left inside my furnished short term/vacation rental?
A: Owners of short term/vacation rentals may have personal belongings in the home and need to decide if these items should be removed or made available during guest stays. Such personal items may include the owner’s linens/towels, clothing, family photos, artwork, heirlooms, irreplaceable goods, and figurines/tchotchkes. North County Property Group highly recommends removing all personal items of financial or sentimental value. Having a designated space in the home, such as a locker or closet that can be secured and locked for the purpose of storing such items is another solution. Any and all belongings that are left in the home for the enjoyment of renters are at risk of normal wear and tear and possible damage or theft. While theft or breakage of sentimental/valuable items is rare, such items are typically impossible to replace. If an owner chooses to not follow this recommendation and leaves such items in the home, we may be unable to utilize the financial protections in our rental program to cover the loss and cannot be held liable.
Q: Are rental periods more than 30 days handled differently?
A: Yes, rental bookings of vacation rental properties for more than 30 days are very common on San Diego County as many guests are looking for relieve from hot or cold weather climates for an entire seasonal period. Also, some HOAs and city ordinances prohibit rentals of short-term duration, but 30-day rental periods are almost always allowed. This is because 30-day rentals are considered “long term” in nature from a legal and local ordinance perspective. They also require the use of a different rental agreement, subject to California laws of tenancy and security deposits. The other main difference is that the rental rate may be negotiated to a lower night rate due to the extended length of the guest stay.
Q: Are we locked into a long-term property management contract?
A: There is NO long-term commitment on your part. We're highly service oriented and confident you will be pleased with our performance. This is our Satisfaction Guarantee. If for whatever reason you are not satisfied you can discontinue our services at any time after the first month on 30-day notice. To assure that there is only one property manager at a time handling a property, however, our agreement is exclusive in nature while under contract. Also, since we may have already collected and deposited rental funds on bookings for your property, any reservations made by us before the termination date which are scheduled for stay at your property after the termination date, would need to be honored and continue to be handled, managed, and completed by us as if the Agreement for only those reservations is still in full force and effect. North County Property Group reserves the right to assign owner agreements, and lease agreements to another person or entity, who would then assume all obligations and liabilities of said agreements.
Q: Can North County Property Group help me with improvements/repairs to get my property “rent ready”?
A: Yes, in addition to our license as a CA Real Estate Broker, we are also a licensed General Contractor with our own maintenance company, “MaintenanceSync”. We have an extensive approved vendor list of subcontractors and vendors for almost any project to get your home ready to rent. Examples of common improvements and repairs that may be needed in advance of listing are painters, electricians, plumbers, gardeners, handymen, carpet/flooring, etc. In such cases, we are working to get these items completed before being paid anything for the ongoing property management as a percentage of rent. Our project management fees for prepping the home is a 20% margin on the advance improvements/repairs we manage to make your home "rent ready.” There is no problem, of course, if you choose to handle the improvement/repair items yourself or hire your own people to do the work.
Q: What about capital improvements or large-scale remediation required at the property?
- Capital Improvements: Capital improvements at your property for items such as kitchen appliances, water heater replacement, new HVAC systems, or roof replacements add value to your home, are typically treated differently from a tax perspective, and are significant undertakings beyond the scope of our ongoing home maintenance/repair. We are happy to point out the need for such capital improvements, obtain estimates, make our recommendations, and oversee completion with a 10% project management fee of the overall cost of the capital improvement.
- Cleanup, Remediation, and Restoration Projects: On the rare occasion of a sizable leak, flood, fire, or storm damage occurring at a property, we will be on-call to respond and dispatch emergency cleanup and remediation services. Such circumstances are typically paid for through a property owner insurance claim and involve large scale project management to coordinate with the tenant, owner, insurance company and restoration vendor until a property is returned to its habitable condition. These incidents are also beyond the scope of our ongoing home maintenance/repair. We are happy to obtain estimates, make our recommendations, and oversee completion with a 10% project management fee of the overall cost of the remediation and restoration project. Such 3rd party remediation/restoration project management fees are typically covered under the insurance claim.
Q: Are there any mandatory property maintenance items you will perform at my property?
Yes, there is one mandatory annual maintenance item and several maintenance items that will be conducted as needed:
- Annual HVAC System Check: As a standard annual item, heating and air conditioning equipment, no matter what kind you have, will be inspected, cleaned, and serviced at least once a year by a license professional. Such checks are necessary for both tenant safety from carbon monoxide and to assure efficient operation of the system itself. Not getting systems checked, in addition to creating tenant safety concerns, may lead to stress on the system itself and decrease in its lifespan. One of our preferred HVAC vendors conducts the annual inspection to include the following:
- Inspect the thermostat, wiring, and burners/heat strips
- Clean the blower compartment
- Change Air Filters (two times a year)
- Check the heat exchanger/ignition
- Check the cooling system and freon levels if A/C is installed at the property
- Copies of Property Keys:
As a standard practice, we require several sets of keys for every property under management (1 master set, 2 sets provided to the renters, 2 sets available as needed to property management and vendors). These keys are kept in a special key locker which is further protected behind another locked door in our company office. Frequently, property owners provide us with just one set of keys, creating the need for us to make additional copies and resulting in a charge.
- Cleaning Prior to Rental Arrival
It is not uncommon for property owners to have their property cleaned themselves when they have used the property during their own vacation time in the home. Sometimes, however, the cleaning performed is not to a professional standard or further cleaning is required. As such, additional cleaning may be required to bring the property to a rent ready level of cleanliness prior to the next renter booking, resulting in a charge. To avoid these situations for which a property may be cleaned twice, we urge property owners to allow us to use our cleaning crew following each owner stay.
- Rekey and Smoke/Carbon Detector Testing: Also, as a standard item, a rekey and smoke/carbon detector testing will be conducted annually at each property. While CA law does not require landlords to change their locks, we are finding that many rental dwelling insurance policies held by our owners now require this to reduce your liability as a landlord. Also, it just makes sense for the safety of renters and security of your property.
Q: Does North County Property Group provide any guarantees to its clients?
A: Yes! We offer several guarantees to keep us on our toes and assure you that we are always working hard to please.
- Satisfaction Guarantee: If you determine you are not happy with our property management service, you can discontinue our agreement on 30-day notice.
- Performance Guarantee: We don’t get paid unless we book reservations, have collected payment, and place renters in your property. The only exception is the “rent ready” fees.
Q: Can I rent my property if I am in default on my mortgage?
A: No. North County Property Group requires that all property owners provide assurance that mortgages, taxes, insurance and any HOA dues are current and are not in default. Also, we require the assurance that the property is not in foreclosure or pending foreclosure action.
Q: How do you screen prospective renters?
A: Our renter screening process is quite thorough and diligent. Each interested renter must provide a government issued photo ID, sign our rental agreement, and prepay in full before being granted access to the property. For lengthy rental stays, we may require a rental application and credit screening. We also check their previous reviews on booking sites such as Airbnb and VRBO.
Q: Who holds the tenant’s security deposit and prepaid rent?
A: North County Property Group holds security deposits and prepaid rent in our Broker Trust Account for safe keeping as regulated by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). By holding the deposits, it makes accounting and owner distribution process faster and easier. It also makes the renter departure process easier when it comes time to reconcile any necessary cleaning fees, repairs, and subsequent security deposit disposition.
Q: What is North County Property Group’s Pet Policy?
A: Generally, we do not allow pets of any kind in our furnished rental properties. In some cases, however, owners desire for their property to be “pet friendly” and welcome pets with certain restrictions. When allowed in a rental home, all pets will be subject to a separate pet screening which requires the prospective renter to provide a photo of the pet, name of breed, weight, veterinarian and vaccine information, age of pet, as well as other information requested by our partnership with PetScreening.com. Various dog breeds such as Pit Bull Terrier may be cause for immediate rejection.
Q: How does North County Property Group manage my installed security system?
A: Security systems are very useful for providing security for your property, especially during times of extended vacancy. North County Property Group will gather detailed instructions from the homeowner on how to operate the security system and include the information for renters/tenants. Any and all video camera systems that may be included in the security of the home must be removed or disabled by the property owner prior to a rental period and tenant move-in. Such devices, if left operational in the home, raise serious privacy and legal concerns for you as the owner and us as your property manager. This includes smart doorbell systems like “Nest” and “Ring,” as this would allow surveillance of the property without the consent of your renters/tenants. The same applies for listening devices or smart home products such as Google Assistant or Amazon Echo/Alexa. North County Property Group will not be held liable for any undisclosed use of surveillance devices at the property.
Q: What charges can be taken from a tenant’s security deposit?
A: All short-term/seasonal rental guests are required to purchase Damage Protection Insurance in addition to providing a security deposit. If something is damaged at your property, our first course of action is to file a claim with the insurance company for the cost of replacement, repair, or cleaning. The same estimated amount would be retained from the renter’s security deposit until the insurance claim is paid. Please be aware that California law specifically allows us to use a security deposit for four purposes:
- For unpaid rent;
- For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
- For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests; and
- If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.
We can withhold from the security deposit only those amounts that are reasonably necessary for these purposes. The security deposit cannot be used for repairing defects that existed at the property before a tenant moved in, for conditions caused by normal wear and tear during the tenancy or previous tenancies, or for cleaning a rental unit that is as clean as it was when a tenant moved in. Any items that are fragile, highly valuable, invaluable, or cannot be easily replaced should be removed from the property prior to the initial rental period. These items may include family heirlooms, expensive artwork, sculptures, prized personal belongings, anything that may have sentimental value etc. Although it is rare, there is always risk of damage to your personal belongings, and if we are unable to establish a cost to be deducted to a renters security deposit for said damage, then we will not be able to repair or replace the item.
Q: Who is responsible for the utility charges when my property is rented?
A: Owners of short-term rental properties may incur several utility expenses that can be categorized into two groups.
- Flat Rate utility expenses may include:
- Cable/entertainment service
- HOA fees
- Gardening service
- Variable Rate utility expenses may include:
- Gas and electric services
Water service may be a flat or variable rate depending on what is covered by the specific HOA. Flat rate utility expenses are always the responsibility of the owner and are built into the rental rate. The same applies to variable utility expenses for rental periods less than 30 days. In certain situations, when a rental period exceeds 30 days, additional steps can be taken to protect the owner from excessive utility bills. This is a common consideration on homes equipped with amenities such as A/C, pool, or spa. In such cases, North County Property Group can determine what would be considered excessive utility usage, factoring in historical and seasonal utility costs, in coordination with the property Owner to set a “utilities cap.” If the utilities used by your renter exceed the utilities cap, then a deduction from the security deposit can be used to pay for the difference. Owners must understand, however, that it is their responsibility to quickly send evidence of utility usage (bill or online statement) for the dates of the rental stay if it is to be charged back to the renter. Once a renter vacates your property, we have a very limited amount of time (sometimes as little as 14 days) to process security deposit deductions and provide them with a security refund.
Q: Who handles renter interactions, notices, repairs, and maintenance?
A: North County Property Group handles the booking/reservation, collects deposits and rent, maintains all communication with the guests and will arrange all repairs & maintenance, etc. Each property is equipped with our “welcome guide” giving instructions on how to contact us in case of emergency or if maintenance is needed at the property during their stay. Expenses on repairs, as needed, are passed through to you (we keep a small "reserve" amount with us in trust to cover small repairs and incidentals) through our normal monthly accounting statements. Because we are also a General Contractor, we bring with us a huge list of vetted sub-contractors in every trade by utilizing our affiliated maintenance company, “MaintenanceSync”, to facilitate repairs and maintenance at your property.
Q: What is the “Maintenance Limit” as it relates to property management?
A: North County Property Group shall obtain prior approval for any expenditure over the maintenance limit (typically set at $500). Any minor items below the maintenance limit will be resolved using our best judgement. The only exceptions would be when emergency action is needed to protect the property or the well-being of the tenant?
Q: Is it expensive to keep a vacation rental well maintained and how much should I expect to spend?
A: Maintenance is a necessary service that we must provide to deliver on the rest of our property management business services. It is a simple fact: if you want to own rental properties, you must have the understanding and financial resources to keep the rental home properly maintained. Just like maintaining your car, nobody likes to spend the money to do it, but it is a necessity to keeping a car running and performing safely. Our sister company, MaintenanceSync, provides us with a maintenance program that is hard to find from any one company. The objective is to provide value and a fair price, with a top level of service, but may not necessarily be the cheapest or absolute lowest cost.
- MaintenanceSync is available 24/7/365 for tenant emergencies.
- They are always staffed to take on any maintenance/repair task.
- Software systems and processes are in place to handle requests quickly and efficiently.
- They have the breadth of expertise, capacity, and vendor relationships to act quickly with minimal disruption for the property owner and tenant.
- Each tradesman is vetted professionally to confirm their level of experience, active license, and proper level of liability insurance.
- Allows owners to be “hands-off” and leave the heavy lifting to MaintenanceSync.
Q: What are “Owner Reserves” and how are they managed?
A: This an amount (typically $500) of the property owner’s funds that North County Property Group holds in our Broker Trust Account as contingency funds for any repairs, daily obligations, maintenance issues, and emergencies that may occur at the property over the course of the given month. The reserve is funded upon receipt of rent from bookings and is replenished each month when rent is received to offset expense items during the previous month. If expenses should exceed the $500 reserve, or if North County Property Group needs funds for repairs which are to be completed before the property is rented, an owner deposit will be requested to pay for such expenses.
Q: What insurance coverage should I have on my property
A: We advise all our property owners to consult with their insurance agent to be certain they are carrying adequate insurance for a furnished rental made available for short-term or seasonal stays. This type of insurance is quite different from a normal homeowner’s policy and it is VERY important that your agent know exactly what you are doing with your property. We require current proof of insurance for the correct type of policy to be on record in our office and that North County Property Group be named as additionally insured (this is standard procedure with insurance companies and not at additional cost to the property owner).
Q: What are the tax implications of renting my property?
A: We advise all our property owners to consult with their tax accountant regarding the reporting and handling of rent income on their annual tax return. North County Property Group is legally obligated to report the gross rental income distributed to you on a 1099 form to the IRS and as such will need your social security number for reporting purposes.
Q: Are tax requirements different if I live outside the State of California?
A: Yes, if a property owner lives outside of the State of California and is renting a home he/she owns through us within the State of California, North County Property Group is required to withhold 7% of the rent collected and submit it to the state tax authorities on a quarterly basis. Withholdings are submitted quarterly by North County Property Group on the property owner’s behalf to the California Franchise Tax Board with a FTB Form 592, Quarterly Nonresident Withholding Statement. Before January 31st of the following calendar year, we provide the property owner with a statement showing the total amount of income subject to withholding and the total amount withheld, using a FTB Form 592-B, Nonresident Withholding Tax Statement. Nonresident withholding is a prepayment of California state income tax or franchise tax for nonresidents, like wage withholding. After the property owner files, a tax return, if the withheld amount is more than the landlord’s actual tax liability, then the Franchise Tax Board will refund the overpayment.
Q: How will mail service be handled at my property?
A: We advise all our property owners to forward their personal mail to their permanent or new address. This can be done quickly and easily at the following US Postal Service website: https://www.usps.com/manage/forward.htm
North County Property Group and tenants cannot be responsible for mail or package delivery expected by the owner that is delivered to the property under management. Owners of season or long-term properties which have a locked mailbox in place for mail service will need to provide a mailbox key the tenant. (mail key for short term vacation renters may be optional at the discretion of the property owner).
Q: What differentiates North County Property Group from other property management companies?
North County Property Group is the only property management company in San Diego County to be awarded with the three top designations by our industry association: The Residential Management Professional (RMP®), Master Property Manager (MPM®) AND the prestigious Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC®). We deliver high-end San Diego property management based on 20+ years of experience, having designed our program to exceed your expectations, build trust and confidence, and maximize the value of your real estate assets. We further emphasize social responsibility through giving back to our community and the transparent ethics of a family-owned business. Our objective is to be the trusted advisor to protect your rental property investment, achieve your real estate financial goals, and free you of the time involved in being a landlord. If these values are important to you, then North County Property Group will be a good fit for your San Diego property management services!
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