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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nickeled & Dimed to Death in Key West

I got an email a few days ago from a reader. He apparently bought a couple of places in Key West that have been used a vacation rentals. He kept the existing property management company in place because of the excellent rental history. He said the property management company had been over-charging him. He asked me if I could recommend a reputable property management company. Our office does property management, but I am not involved in it. I don't make any money or receive any token compensation for referrals. So I have no financial stake one way or another if someone uses our office or another. But I did refer the reader to Dan Skahen in our office. Dan is the property manager at Preferred Properties.

Late yesterday I had an opportunity to see one of the "bills" my reader had received. My reader pays a 20% property management fee. It included such expenses as $5 to move trash can to street. I went by the house. The trash can is located about 5 feet from the sidewalk. Another $25 was charged to turn on the propane tank that heats the swimming pool. That heater is on the other side of driveway, maybe 25 feet from where the trash can is located. Perhaps they charge by the foot. The reader was charged a fee of $20 to check-in and check-out the same "guest"- that's $40 in total. He got charged $36 to replace paper products (toilet paper and paper towels). And he was charged another $86 to replace a hair dryer. There's more but that's all I can remember.

When I show property to potential buyers I tell them that most property management companies charge about the same rate to manage property, but that they need to be certain what is included in the term "property management". I know that just about all property managers pass along cleaning fees, supplies, pool maintenance, repairs,credit card fees, and travel agent commissions. Some charge more for paying bills related to the property while others pay the bills as part of the management fee.

I am tempted to rat out the rat that nickeled and dimed my reader. But I won't do it. I don't have a dog in this fight. I'll tell you this, if you buy a property from me and you plan to rent it, I will tell you not to use that particular company.

I see this same crap happen down here all the time. There are plenty of contractors, electricians, plumbers, and handymen that are perfectly willing to take your money and take more and more of it. After Hurricane Wilma I made my noontime trek to Burger King on Roosevelt. The food was easy, hot, good to eat, and cheap. This local fat assed contractor was in line ahead of me bragging about all of the work he was doing in New Town. He was telling someone else how much he was charging the poor fools whose houses got flooded. He was laughing. That fat ass ended up loosing several houses in the market downturn. So there!

Several years ago I went to the Key West Post Office and asked to speak to a supervisor about my mail service. A guy came out to the customer service counter. I told him where I lived and stated I keep getting other peoples' mail. I told him I got someones income tax refund (which I walked to the correct address), but said I was getting the wrong mail quite frequently. He said "Well, this is Key West" as if that is an excuse not to do your job. But he added he would look into it. A few months later I went back and asked to speak to the Postmaster. A woman came out this time. I repeated my complaint and added the comment about excusing poor job performance on living in Key West. I still get other peoples' mail, just not as frequently as before.

For some reason individuals and businesses (and maybe government to some extent) tend to use Key West as a reason or a justification for doing a crappy job or for over-charging. We pay more for our gas than you would pay in Ft Lauderdale or Miami. The excuse is we are located far away. Yeah, well you can buy gas cheaper up US 1 about 10 miles. It's just an excuse to gouge people.

That property manager I mentioned will probably loose my reader's business. He should. It looks to me like his greed will cost him $20,000 in lost income for next year. Multiply that by five years. That $5 to move the trash could cost the property manger $100,000 over five years. Moron!


Anonymous said...

It's frustrating how sneaky and dishonest people are these days. I only contract out things I absolutely can't do myself. Otherwise I'll take some time, figure out how it's done and do it myself.

As for the mail, that's just ridiculous. If anything they have no excuse to get it wrong! How hard is it to deliver mail to an island the size of a nickle?

Anonymous said...

The mail is bad all over. A pice of regestured mail with funs in it was sent over 1000 away to N.O. When traced down the PO in New O. stated they did not know who was going to pay the postage to get it to us! Dumber than poo. Once I did sign a contract to buy a home in KW. I backed out after talking with 2 contractors who could not look me in the eye. A friend did some work and brough contractors from the main land--smart move.

Anonymous said...

Gary, you hit the nail on the head. Just because you live in Key West is no excuse. How absurd! Was this same excuse used before all the new people cam to Key West and upset the natives by rebuilding homes, bringing jobs and spending money? I think not.

As for the prop mgmt company, I know of no other extortion industry for the unwise and unknowing. The prices charged are ridiculous and I do blame the property owner for not investigating sooner. However, you put him in good hands with Dan and they owners should be thanking you for it!

Keep up the good work and I am sure the receiver of the tax refund check thanks you too.

Sean said...

Gary, there are also people who do a great job. Our contractor on our most recent exterior renovation (Jordan Holdcamp) did an awesome job, came in on budget, and the quality of the work is superb. Also, our property manager during our travels (pat from prudential) has not nickle and dimed us, in fact has worked to try and save us money while providing excellent service - going above and beyond to make sure that the property was well managed. Just want to point out that not "everyone" says "ahh, it's key west" and does a crappy job. There are plenty of people, like you with real estate, who take pride in doing their job. One just has to find them!

Anonymous said...

I second the comment about Pat Madiedo at Prudential. Top drawer commitment, work and results. She manages our home better than we could (or probably would).


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.