With the aim of keeping our readers interested, we made the decision that not all our news features should be about Oasis. From time to time, we shall be exploring other fields of interest, specifically areas of commerce that complement our own. With that in mind, we decided to do a feature on the world of property management, a service business that is often under valued.
Over the years, we have worked with many different PM (property management) companies on Costa del Sol and Marbella, some of them clearly better than others. For the sake of this feature, we decided to focus on two companies that have stood out for different reasons, ‘Soto Comfort Care’ based in Sotogrande, whose clients tend to be home owners not involved in the rental market, and ‘HomeCareontheWeb’ based in Elviria, who run a fully comprehensive PM service for the Costa del Sol, including an increasing focus on the rental market.
The main reason we have worked with PM companies is because a key part of the service they offer is to attend to any problems the property might have, and organise repairs/replacements accordingly. So more often than not, we have been contacted to repair all types of heating & cooling systems (air conditioning, solar heating, pool heating etc)but also electrical and plumbing problems. Having said that, we also have maintenance contracts via PM companies, whereby we routinely service all the mechanics in the property to prevent problems occuring.
In many ways, it is that proactive and preventative focus that is a defining feature of the best PM firms around. They can save the homeowner not just big headaches but a lot of money by being proactive and maintaining properties thoroughly so as to prevent expensive problems occuring. That is certainly a very important aspect of what Soto Comfort Care is all about. As the President of the company , Anne van Uffelen, says, “It is essential that a property manager takes a proactive approach to maintenance and supervision of the any property. That is why our people are continuously surveying the member’s property…. for each client there is a system of pro-active maintenance to ensure that not only critical systems , but any system , operates satisfactorily at any time of the year , the owner present or not”.
Being ‘proactive’ is a trait that not all PM companies have, and that’s why we were especially impressed with another PM company – HomeCareontheWeb – who run a slightly different type of service, with the ‘rental’ market being a bigger factor for their business. Tony Sidebottom, founder of HomeCareontheWeb said that they have to be proactive in order to provide a specialist management service to meet owners’ needs for long-term and holiday lettings, including finding rental clients and managing the whole rental process from start to finish . What’s more he goes on to say that they “contact their owners via regular email newsletter to notify them of new products, offers and company news. For example, in January the company told their owners about a new product to control the use of air conditioning units, and set-top boxes for their televisions to prepare for the digital switch-over.” As he aptly summarises “Being proactive is the best way to help owners control costs and prevent problems”.
It has become very clear to us over the years, that absent property owners that don’t have a PM company in place usually end up far worse off for it. Obviously, giving responsibility for your property to someone else requires a huge amount of trust. That is why at Soto Comfort Care, “Every member of the company has its own dedicated comfort manager , a one to one relationship with the owner . The comfort manager is the unique point of call and as the title says , they care for the owners property and they look after it as if it were their own.”
When the founders of HomeCareontheWeb bought their holiday house 23 years ago, they couldn’t find anyone they trusted to care for their property, which of course was the inspiration behind setting up the business. As Tony explains “Not knowing where to turn, we explored the options – from larger property management companies to local ‘one-man bands’ – but the experience convinced us that there’s a big difference between ‘managing’ a property, and really ‘caring’ for it.”
Although we’ve covered some of the most fundamental aspects of the PM service, the innovative and professional firms do far more than most people would realise. Yet again, both of these companies stand out in that regard. At Soto Comfort Care, Anne explains that their service goes way beyond what you might expect from a PM company including “administrative tasks such as paying bills , managing insurance portfolios , supervising and managing live-in personnel or simply subcontractors , dealing with the authorities on various administrative and fiscal matters . We offer a full range of services and the member , our client picks and chooses . Our pricing is fully tailored to the client’s needs and wishes . Never are there any surprises .”
At HomeCareontheWeb, the client can be fully involved and up to date via their own interactive website: “What really sets the company apart from its competitors is our advanced interactive website, which includes everything owners need to manage their properties from afar. Each owner has a secure online account management area where they can schedule cleaning before they or their guests arrive, check on the status of maintenance actions, book time to spend in their properties, view and pay invoices and much more, at just a click of a button.”
So our advice to any absent property owner without a PM company is to hire one. Whilst it may seem like a cost now, it will probably save you money in the long run. Many of the repairs that we carry out for clients could easily have been avoided if they had invested in maintenance and care beforehand.
We should point out that whilst we featured two companies to highlight the benefits of good property management, there are of course many other great companies and we couldn’t interview them all.