Rental agencies in Canaan / Timberline
11 posts
5 users
2k+ views
ubu
December 27, 2006
Member since 05/11/2005 🔗
40 posts
I've had a house in Old Timberline for almost 2 years and have been very frustrated with the rental agency handling the property (which will go unnamed for now). My main gripe is that they manage to tack on the most absurd fees without (a) checking with me first to see if I wanted the "work" done, and (b) when I call them on it they back off and say they will refund the fees, but this never (rarely) actually happens. I don't really have time to deal with the runaround and usually just let it go in the end, but my patience is nearing an end. My other gripes include terrible cleaning service, doors left unlocked and heaters left on full blast after rentals, questionable maintenance services, etc.

I am very curious about what others have experienced with agencies in the valley? How do Timberline, Mountaintop, and Canaan Realty stack up? I have been nervous about moving because there is a good rental history with the current agency, but this season things are different (only 1 rental on the books for winter, compared to 50% booking at this time last year) and I am thinking about making a change...


p.s. my wife and I bought the house as a base for mountain biking and backpacking, not skiing, but after a >10 year hiatus I have been sucked back onto the slopes thanks to TL and Canaan!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 27, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
I think they are all about same. The problem is not so much with the agencies but the renters--large groups of college students or families with lots of kids. These types of groups put a lot of stress on a property, making the job of cleaning staffs a tough one. As the former owner of my place put it, "every time I visited the place after a rental, something was broken and the agency could barely keep up with the repairs. Skis go through dry wall like a knife through butter."
ubu
December 27, 2006
Member since 05/11/2005 🔗
40 posts
I agree it's a tough challenge for the cleaners, and to be fair I probably should not have made a comment about cleaning. Overall I think the cleaners do a good job of things, and there have only been a couple of problems with the results so far. We have also been lucky to have no major damage in the past 2 years, just a few holes in the walls and some dead electronics.

My real issue is with hidden fees which I am not consulted on. Hottub maintenance and chimney cleaning are fine, I just want to be in the loop and take part in deciding who does the work. But then there are crazy things like regrading the driveway and furniture repair that I don't hear about until I look over the monthly statement. I have asked to be consulted before anything like this is done, but it never seems to happen. I dread getting the statement each month for fear or what new fee/service will pop up.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 28, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
One advantage of being in a rental program is maintenance service, and given the number of things that can get broken or go wrong for second property owners who rarely visit the valley, I'd be happy if I were you that someone is keeping up with the maintenance demands of the house. If you can afford to own a home in Old Timberline, how can you complain about these so-called costs? It has to be a drop in the bucket compared to the major costs of home ownership in Old Timberline (mortgage, taxes, maintenance, utilities)?
Be happy that someone is actually looking after the needs of your second home.

I asked a financial advisor about second property ownership before taking the plunge and he said that if you have to rely on rental income to meet your expenses, don't buy a second property. At best, rental income will defray a small portion of expenses, but it's nearly impossible to come close to breaking even through such programs. For one thing, the margins for the agencies are razor thin because these programs are so labor intensive (24 hour maintenance, cleaning, reservations, etc). The trend right now in the industry is cold beds: people who buy ski properties and never rent them. In my development (Northwoods), I see a smaller number of renters every year because owners prefer to avoid the hassles of renting and have the flexibility to use their units whenever they wish.
dmh
December 28, 2006
Member since 12/11/2003 🔗
127 posts
I feel your pain. It is not simply a question of the expense, although the charges can be outrageous (I was charged $26 to change the air filter in my furnance. It costs 56 cents at Home Depot and takes me 30 seconds to install), but the failure of management to let you have a voice in the decisions. I resorting to sending a letter to my management company informing them that they were not authorized to make any repairs that exceeded $25 (an they were never authorized to change another furnace filter) without my approval. Further, if they did make the repairs without my approval they were responsible for the costs. This has worked for me, knock on wood.

I agree that the management companies in the Valley are not up to most minimum standards. They generally make no effort to inventory the house after a rental to assess damage before returning the security deposit. It is always a challenge to find the pots and pans since they seem to find new and creative places to hide them from rental to rental. My family has also started playing a game of placing a piece of paper in obvious places to see how long it takes the cleaning crew to find and remove it. The record so far is 6 cleanings. It has reached the point that the anger caused by all this has almost reached the point that the rental income is just not worth it.

If anyone finds a competent, affordable, professional property management service in the valley please let me know. Perhaps DCSki members should start our own coop and bypass the middle man. Surely there is some enterprising member who lives in CV, has solid management skills, and wants to find a way to make a lot of money doing important but not overly complex tasks. Anyone?
TerpSKI
December 28, 2006
Member since 03/10/2004 🔗
167 posts
Quote:

...But then there are crazy things like regrading the driveway ...




Regrading the driveway? I think you are being screwed. There is no way you should be allowing things like this regardless of whether you can afford it or not.

Is it evident that the furniture is being repaired and the hot-tub maintained?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 28, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
Hmm. Sounds like some of the agencies may be trying to improve their margins by charging excessive fees for unecessary maintenance. If so, I'll stop defending these places.
ubu
December 28, 2006
Member since 05/11/2005 🔗
40 posts
Quote:

Hmm. Sounds like some of the agencies may be trying to improve their margins by charging excessive fees for unecessary maintenance. If so, I'll stop defending these places.




That's my sense of things. The driveway regrading supposedly happened because a tenent complained about a puddle of water in the driveway, so they came out and pushed a bunch of dirt around, making a huge mess and clogging up the entrance to a french drain system. The charge was a few hundred $ as I recall. Not an enormous amount but come on! Why the %^#% I wasn't consulted on this is beyond me, a simple phone call would have worked. It's that kind of things that is driving me nuts. $600 for hottub maintenance without being asked first, then later in the year the control panel for the hottub was replaced without being asked, which I later found out was set to have the hottub pump run non-stop (fixed >4 months later, partially explaining the sky-high elec bills last winter). I guess I wouldn't mind this too much if the basic fees were more in line with other areas (~33% management cut vs. 20-25% in every other market I am familiar with), and if I felt I was getting service which fit the costs (i.e. if they would remember to lock the outside door after coming out for a repair, which has happened 3 times).

Ok, I'm just venting now. If I stay with my current agency I am definitely taking dmh's advice and writing a formal letter defining expectations. I also like the idea of a DCSki co-op and hope someone gets right on that . But back on topic...is there a better option? Have any of you had particularly good experiences with your own management companies? Or do I just need to grin & bear it?
ubu
December 28, 2006
Member since 05/11/2005 🔗
40 posts
Quote:

Regrading the driveway? I think you are being screwed. There is no way you should be allowing things like this regardless of whether you can afford it or not.




Agreed.


Quote:


Is it evident that the furniture is being repaired and the hot-tub maintained?




Nope. You've already heard the hot tub story, the furniture story turned out little better. Now that I hear myself say all this I really wonder why I haven't made a switch yet.
RyanC
December 28, 2006
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
I bought my condo in Canaan in Jan. 2004 (wow, time flies...) just before the increase in prices. Actually, I may have gotten the last under $50k unit in the valley- good thing 'cause I couldn't afford today's prices. I purchased for 2 reasons: 1) To use now and retire to the area mortgage-free. I'm 25-30 years away from a standard 'early retirement'. 2) To rent for income when not in use. After hearing several horror stories from others in my development, I quickly decided not to rent. Given that my carrying costs are equivalent to most new car payments I decided it just wasn't worth it. I'm pretty gentle on my place and can furnish it to my taste without having to spend any rental income I would have received on replacing missing things (which really does add up). I try to make it up there at least every 2-3 weeks unless I have something going on in Baltimore.

John, ever going to do another DCSki RE article. I really missed it this year!!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 28, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
Quote:


John, ever going to do another DCSki RE article. I really missed it this year!!




No. The subject is too controversial, and I have conflicted feelings about what is going on in WV.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

Join the conversation by logging in.

Don't have an account? Create one here.

0.14 seconds