Surfcomber Vacation Rentals
Surfcomber Vacation Rentals offers a unique combination of specialized teams and technology to create a best-in-class experience for both homeowners and guests. We provide full service vacation rental property management to give owners a stress and risk-free solution to their rental properties.
Home Owner FAQs
Surfcomber Rentals makes renting out your property easy – but we understand that homeowners have lots of questions. We try to be as clear and informative as possible so we’ve put together a list of the most asked questions we get! Please don’t hesitate to discuss directly with Ryan to find out more.
What does Surfcomber do for Vacation Rental Owners?
We manage every aspect of keeping your vacation rental booked and ready for guests and owners to enjoy. Our goal is to enable you to make the most revenue from your rental without having to do any of the busy work involved with managing it. That means we do everything from taking photos, writing descriptions, and marketing it to potential guests as well as managing logistics like reservations, payments, check-in and check- out, housekeeping, light upkeep, and dispatching emergency maintenance. We can also manage handymen for regular maintenance, improvements, and emergencies. We make sure home owners can sleep well at night knowing their rental is being taken care of and generating the most revenue possible.
How easy is it to get started?
Getting started is easy and risk-free. We can activate homes that are existing vacation rentals as quickly as in a few weeks if everything is ready to go. Our contract has no minimum term or volume commitments, or start-up fees. Normal activation includes shooting new photos, putting together detailed listings, setting pricing, activating advertising on the main internet channels and beginning to take reservations – all in as little as a few weeks! This can take longer given a home owner’s schedule, or if a home is in the process of being converted from a residence or long-term rental. If you do not like the service at any point you can terminate without penalty.
Can you help me convert to a vacation rental?
Yes, we will help in any way we can and we regularly do it all. Most of our current clients were owners of long-term rentals and our capacity to simplify and execute the conversion was a big selling point. Whether it is helping you secure a short-term license, bringing in our complimentary interior designer, choosing and installing all the furnishings, meeting movers, getting landscaping in shape, etc. In fact, we are so efficient at the conversion and so confident in the success you will have, we can convert and furnish the rental with no out of pocket costs from you at all. How? We cover the expenses required and charge you back over a year’s time, basically offering 0% financing for any furnishings, installation, etc. This pays off because our clients stay clients.
What kind of contract do I need to sign?
Our contract is straight-forward and we believe it should not have any onerous clauses. After the first year, it includes a 60 day out clause for any reason – if you are not happy with the service you can leave with a two month’s notice. Please contact us and we will be happy to send you our agreement for your review.
Do I have to commit to a certain amount of availability?
No, however we do require that all homes that wish to use Surfcomber are year-round rentals. There is no problem with an owner, friends or family using a rental for days or even weeks at a time, however if you plan to only make it available occasionally then your home probably is not a good fit. We also reserve the right to cancel a homeowner agreement if the home is predominantly unavailable for bookings.
Does my home need to be of a certain quality or size?
Honestly, you would be amazed at the types and locations of units that perform well as short-term rentals. This shift is based on the disruption of platforms like Airbnb.com that have moved the vacation rental arena from just the beach and mountain to anywhere people travel – people love to ditch the hotel. This could be a rowhouse in a downtown metro area, a duplex by the beach or it could be a single-family home tucked into the trees that feels like a treehouse. . We will look at every home and let you know if we feel it will make a good rental. Contact us to see if your home qualifies.
Is there anything I am required to have at my home?
Yes there is! Guests expect a fully-functioning home when they arrive complete with furniture, appliances, cookware, glasses, silverware, internet, TV, etc. as well as a standard supply of bed linens, bath and hand towels and typical consumables like light-bulbs and batteries. We will work with you to make sure that you have everything in place. High-speed wireless internet is required at every home – and many of our homes use SmartTVs equipped with Netflix, Hulu+, and others and cut the cord for cable. We do this in most of the properties we own. Nicely decorated homes tend to command higher rentals and we always encourage owners to have a home that shows well. A good test of whether or not you need to have something in your rental is to put yourself in a guest’s shoes… If you were staying somewhere for a week long period of time, what would you expect to have in that rental home… that is what we aim to provide to guests for their stay.
Do I need to have laundry? Do I need lots of sets of sheets?
No. As part of our services, we will provide the sheets, pillowcases and towels for your unit at no cost to you. Our cleaning service takes advantage of our volume and centralizes purchasing, stocking and cleaning these items. That said, if you have a W/D, guests love it. If you have a 3+ unit building, we can arrange for a coin laundry machine to be installed and managed at no charge, you just collect the checks.
How do you set pricing for my rental?
Owners often ask how pricing is set for each rental, and why the “Total Rent” amount on booking notification emails sometimes looks a little strange. First, we set an initial price for each unit for each day of week, and time of the year. Midweek days might get set at one price, weekends at another, holidays and peak periods may be set higher, and off-season prices could be set lower. We set these initial prices based on several factors like input from each owner, characteristics of the home (size, amenities, location, recent remodels, etc.), analytics from specialized data sources (e.g. Airdna.com), and comparable home prices in the area and our own portfolio of units. Our experience has led us to slice up pricing into at least 6 different seasons since the ‘seasonality’ and ‘holiday’ impact is so profound in this area.
Once we agree on the initial prices with you the owner, we recommend that owners allow us to dynamically adjust pricing up or down to optimize overall revenue. This is a complex task and we have exclusive rights to data and analytics to drive our pricing decisions. We combine insights from the data with our local market expertise to make weekly adjustments. The key is to monitor and adjust pricing up or down based on actual market demand. This is where Surfcomber excels – we monitor conversion rates of your rental at initial pricing and adjust up or down according to how well the rental is booking. It is an ongoing process that is always a top priority. The more money our owners make, the more we make – so we try and do everything we can to maximize the revenue.
Here are just a few examples of the many ways we adjust your pricing to make you more rental income:
- If your home is booking more quickly for comparable times of year than other homes in your area – this may be an indicator we set your price too low, and we may adjust the price up.
- If your unit has last minute availability, and has openings within the next two weeks, we may apply different levels of discounts to try and get that last-minute traveler who is used to getting a last minute discount deal.
- If we notice large periods of time that are farther in advance that have lower than expected occupancy, we may adjust the price down. As occupancy fills in, we may adjust the price back up.
There are several other ways we make changes, and a lot of different places we look for data. At Surfcomber we monitor the market availability calendars on sites like VRBO and HomeAway, we use exclusive pricing analytics dashboards from market-leader AirDNA, and benchmark every home’s inquiry and reservation volumes against historical numbers and comparable homes. All of these changes can result in the “Total Rent” number being different than the initial pricing set for your rental.
How do you advertise my rental and do I need to pay for this?
We list your home everywhere we think guests are looking for rentals! We start by putting you on the Surfcomber Vacation Rentals website, but we know that most consumers shop on the big consumer travel sites. In addition to our own site, we automatically get your property onto Airbnb.com, where we are the most positively reviewed host in the area. 700+ and counting. Instantly you become part of a well known and respected group of Surfcomber properties, at no cost. Then we also do the major HomeAway sites (Homeaway.com, VRBO, and Vacationrentals.com to name a few), and we list your property on roughly 14 other optional sites like Tripadvisor, Flipkey, and Booking.com. We also synchronize your availability calendar so every site shows the right rates and availability all of the time. We believe no other property manager markets more than Surfcomber – after all if we do not book up your home we do not make any money on it either! Each site has a slightly different business model, but in general most have a combination of a small commission that reduces the net rent and a fee that gets charged to the guest. Of course all bookings on the Surfcomber website have no additional cost associated with them.
What if I already have listed my home on those sites?
Many owners have already created listings. We will work with you to migrate them over to our managed account and we will go through them to professional rewrite the listing if necessary, to add or improve the photos and to configure the listing to synchronize the pricing and calendar across all of the many sites we plan on listing your rental.
Do I need to provide you with photographs?
If you have them, great! If you don’t, we’ll handle it. Even if you do, we will likely come and shoot some more.
How do guests pay you?
We use credit card processing through VacationRentPayment, the industry leader. Travelers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with credit cards for transactions rather than send cash – it is safer, easier, and more secure. We can also take cash or check payments as well as eCheck/ACH but prefer to use credit cards. Credit card companies do charge for their service, we deduct a typical fee of 2.5% for Visa/Mastercard from the gross rent to cover their fees.
How do guests interact with Surfcomber?
We have several ways for guests to communicate with us. First is via our 24×7 online support team based around the world – Guesty. They are a vacation-rental focused start-up that leverages real people around the world and powerful technology to get back to guests in minutes. They cascade issues to the Surfcomber Team as needed, we’re close by and love to chat and text. We also have a US-based reception service 6 days a week that addresses booking inquiries, current guest questions, etc. They route calls to our local team as well. We also have a guest iPhone and Android app that allows them to login, see their reservation information, get unlock codes for their rental, see directions, nearby restaurants and a lot more. Anyone can download and we encourage homeowners to do so. The application is listed as Surfcomber, under Surfcomber Vacation Rentals.
Can guests book my property online?
Yes they can, and more and more guests do.
How do you enable online bookings?
We use Streamline Software for Professionals – a very secure and reliable management solution for professional managers. It is backed by a publicly traded company in Austin and works very well for enabling all aspects of bookings and payments.
How do you deal with advanced deposits?
We accept all major credit cards, and charge a deposit of 10% of the total rental upon booking, with the full payment due 30 days prior to check-in. All reservations which are made more than 10 days in advance of check-in are fully refundable if the guest cancels the reservation within 72 hours after the time of booking. After this cancellation period expires, all payments are non-refundable. The guest who books the property must be 25 years or older unless otherwise noted.
When do I get paid for reservations?
We currently pay owners once a month and we hope to move that to a more frequent schedule. Expect to receive an owner statement and an ACH deposit to your bank account within about seven days after the end each month. This statement and deposit will cover all guests that check-out during that month. If you have a guest crossing over one month to the next, the payment for that reservation falls in the month they check-out.
What if I already had bookings made on my property?
No problem, Surfcomber will charge a reduced rate of 10% if you would like us to manage those guests (i.e. additional collections, customer service, check-ins, check-outs, scheduling cleaning, etc). We will work with you to get all the details we need and we will fully manage these bookings for you just like any booking we made. We may need to collect the cleaning fee from the owner as well as taxes to remit assuming those amounts have already been paid. If not, we can collect on any amounts outstanding as well. If you wish to manage the guest, or your former property manager will do it on your behalf, we will block those bookings off in our calendar and no charges will apply.
Why do you do commission-based pricing?
Commission-based pricing is the industry-standard for vacation rental property management firms. That does not necessarily mean it is the only answer – but we believe that it perfectly aligns our incentives with our homeowners. We only make money when our owners make money, and the only way to increase our revenue is to help owners increase theirs. We believe this is why the commission model has worked and is so well established in the industry.
What kind of reporting do I get on my unit?
Initially you will get a monthly statement from us that details out how much rental revenue you earned, includes details on how much tax we collected and will pay on your behalf, as well as any charges that you have incurred during the month (for example if you want it cleaned for your own stay, or if you had us install a new TV, etc.)
Do I have to handle paying any lodging taxes?
No, Surfcomber handles that for you. We collect the taxes, put them into our owner escrow-style account, and remit on your behalf. Each reservation has taxes added to the amount of the rental – so when you see a rental dollar amount, you can rest assured that we have collected and will remit tax on top of that – you do not need to send us extra money to pay taxes nor do you need to file with your lodging authority.
What about cleaning fees?
Guests pay us directly for cleaning fees, and we pay the cleaners. There is nothing you need to do to schedule them or pay for them. If you wish to have your home cleaned while you, a family member, or friend are using it, just let us know and we will clean it and bill you for it as part of your monthly statement.
Do I need to provide you with a cleaner?
If you have a cleaner you are used to working with, then we may utilize them for your rental. In general, we have cleaners contracted with whom we setup in our dispatch system who have proven to be fast, flexible, and reliable. So if you do not have a regular cleaner we will have one ready to go, and even if you do we may wind up using someone from our pool of cleaners.
Do I need to do my own laundry?
No, our cleaning fees cover laundry service for linens with every clean. Our cleaners will either do it on-site if time permits or bring it to a laundry facility as a back-up.
Do I need to provide all the amenities every time a guest stays like soap, paper towels, toilet paper?
No, you don’t need to worry about it, Surfcomber makes sure homes remained stocked. We require our vacation rental homes come with an initial set of amenities so when guests arrive, they don’t need to head straight to a market. That set includes a couple rolls of toilet paper per bathroom, a roll of paper towels, 3-in-1 dispenser for soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and dish soap in the kitchen. Surfcomber buys these amenities in bulk and restocks these for every stay. Rather than have an owner manage and maintain, Surfcomber includes this service at no additional cost to the owner.
What if I want to do some decorating on my own?
We love it when owners stay involved with decorating and improving their home. Just make sure to check that the home is not booked and you can easily access it whenever you want!
What happens if there is an emergency? Who does the guest call?
The guest always calls or texts Surfcomber. The guest actually never knows the name of the owner for privacy reasons (unless you really want us to tell them). We take the call and dispatch the appropriate handyman, cleaning person or guest relations team member. We pay the handyman and then put the bill onto your home owner statement taking out of the revenue owed to you during the month – that way you don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for anything unless it happens to be a major repair. Surfcomber does not charge any additional fees for these types of emergency jobs.
How do you deal with noisy guests?
We generally require renters to be at least 25 years old, and we have a strict policy of evicting them upon any sign of noise, partying, or over-occupancy. We are owners first as well and the key to our success or failure lies with happy neighbors (including other tenants in the same property). All neighbors will have our contact information and get in contact with us at the slightest concern. This relationship is incredibly important. Parties do happen and we want people to enjoy themselves, however we do not tolerate abuse at the properties and contractually have heavy measures in place to evict and charge additional fees. If we receive more than one noise complaint about a guest, we will send over our team and evict the guest from the property for the remainder of the stay.
Do owners have to allow pets?
No, that is up to each individual owner. In general we encourage it as homes simply get more demand if they allow pets, but we understand many owners do not want to allow them and that is fine. We do charge guests an additional non-refundable $100 rent per stay ($200 for 3+ bedroom homes) for pets to ensure that an owner’s home is fully cleaned and any damage caused by the pet gets billed to the guest. This fee gets paid as additional rent, so the majority will go to the owner.
What about regular maintenance?
We have built a strong cadre of maintenance/handyman resources that we regularly use, overseen by our Head of Maintenance Chad Jacobs. We handle a 24/7 point of contact system, reservations management, guest support, regular housekeeping scheduling and inspections, dispatch of qualified maintenance personnel, monitor internet up-time, indoor temperature when equipped, pool temps when equipped, maintain electronic locks, etc. During inspections we will restock consumable items like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, and even perform simple maintenance like changing remote control batteries or light bulbs for lamp fixtures or ceilings 8’ or lower in height if spares are available on site.
Who takes care of my patio and/or outdoor areas?
We are happy to schedule a regular landscaping service, but most owners already have this in place and continue to use who they trust. We recommend that all owners have repeat services in place. Owners typically pay these fees direct to their contractors along with utilities, internet and TV. If you would like us to set up recurring services for you, no problem, but we do only set them up to happen on a regular basis. We can send the bill to you or pay the vendor and charge your owner account.
What about taking out trash cans?
If we manage all units at a property, Surfcomber will handle taking out and bringing in the trash cans for the building at no charge to the owner. If we manage less than the whole building, we can still handle this service, but will charge the owner. Usually it is about $100 a month.
Are there any other regular services I should have scheduled?
In addition to repeat landscaping service, Surfcomber recommends having a local, licensed HVAC service plan in place that regularly services your air conditioning and heating appliances as well as changes your air filters. Plans run anywhere from $15/month on up depending on how often you need your filters changed and how large your home is. We also require a regular pest-control service, gutter cleaning in heavy leaf areas, and at least twice-yearly window washing. If you would like us to set these up for you, no problem. The bills for the service are set up in your name and are sent directly to you.
What about garbage collection? Who handles this?
Stick with your regular provider – if guests are in the home on pick-up days we ask them to take out the trash. If no one is there, Surfcomber visits and puts out the trash with no charge to you. If you are there on regular days, then please put it out yourself.
I’m uncomfortable giving out keys to strangers – how do you keep my home safe?
Surfcomber uses a very specific type of digitally-coded lock specifically designed for lodging that is known to be the gold standard in the vacation rental industry. They are expensive – but we cover the cost and they are worth it. They are proven to be reliable, secure and stand-up to harsh outdoor environments. They are very secure with all codes expiring upon check-out. Even cleaners and handymen can be issued one-time or date and time-specific codes. What this means is that your home is secure, and easy for the right people to access at the right time. Unlike many other managers, we do not cut corners by using cheaper, less reliable and less secure locks and we never hand out keys to anyone.
How do I get into my home?
Each lock comes with the ability to have several master codes set for it at any given time. As an owner you have a master code and can access the property whenever you want. If for some reason you wish to access while a renter is in the property, please check with us first. Generally we like to avoid disturbing the tenants but understand there may be times when this needs to be done.
How do you handle security deposits and damage?
Research at HomeAway shows guests are far less likely to book a rental if a security deposit is required. HomeAway itself has taken steps to eliminate them and this has become a trend in the industry. HomeAway expects large adoption of this and Surfcomber wants to take advantage of this trend. Surfcomber requires each guest to purchase a minimum $1,500 damage waiver, but it can be up to $5,000 if the property is larger or multiple units. This enables owners to rest assured damage is covered, however owners should expect that from time-to-time normal wear-and-tear will happen outside the policy. A standard in the property management industry is to withhold 4% of gross rents to cover the costs of small items, however Surfcomber does not do this. Owners should expect every now and then they might have to replace a fork or knife, do some touch-up painting, replace a sink or shower fixture, etc. All homes experience periodic maintenance. Guests do sign a contract committing to paying for damage via their credit card on file, and there are strict policies when additional cleaning is needed as well.
Often we are asked what types of things are replaced under this policy. Generally a good rule of thumb is that well-maintained, durable items in good working condition, that are damaged as a result of a guest’s actions are covered. The damage waiver is not a guarantee that nothing will ever be broken or stop working in your home. It is intended to be replace broken or damaged items that resulted from a guest making a mistake.
Everything from small appliances, to plumbing fixtures, furniture and electronics eventually wear-out. If a guest drops a blender and it smashes on the floor, the damage protection kicks in! But if a guest is using a blender that is several years old and it just stops working, it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. If a rug is dirty from regular foot traffic, it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. If a guest spills an entire bottle of red wine on a rug, the damage waiver kicks in. If a guest sits down on an inexpensive couch and a leg breaks off, it is generally not their fault. If a guest spills pasta sauce all over it, then the damage waiver applies.
The damage waiver applies to most furniture as well, however it does not apply to things like fragile antique seating or dining tables, inexpensive plastic seating, furniture that is clearly old, worn, visibly weak or rusted. These are all items we highly recommend removing from a home for safety purposes. And while we love inexpensive furniture from Ikea or other discount stores, it is known not to be very durable. The damage waiver does not apply to furniture that is not designed to hold up to regular guest use, particularly MDF or plastic.
What if I want to stay there, how do I book for friends, family or myself?
You can just call us and we will book the unit for you, or you can view your availability and book online through our Owner Net portal or Owner’s app. There is obviously no charge for this and we even schedule cleaning when you leave so it is ready for the next guest. We bill you on your owner statement for the cleaning.