Evolve Vacation Rental Property Management Review: Is Evolve Worth It?

Evolve is a half-service property management solution for Airbnb owners. Learn about Evolve property management, costs, requirements, reviews, and alternatives.

In real estate investing, how you buy a property and how you manage it are equally important. That’s why many vacation rental investors opt for hiring a top Airbnb property management company to boost profit and earn passive income. But to achieve these targets, it’s crucial to choose a company that will treat the property well.

Evolve is a name that has gained a lot of popularity in the vacation rental management business in recent years. However, before you decide whether to entrust your short term rental with this company, you should gather all possible information about it.

In this Evolve review, we will have a look at the company, the property management services that it offers, how it works, what the costs are, and what existing customers think about Evolve vacation rental property management.

So, in brief, is Evolve worth it? No! While the company charges an industry-low rate of 10% of revenue, it provides only half-serve services. This means that you cannot invest out of state and cannot achieve passive income with Evolve. To do this, you need to look for a full-service alternative.

* Awning is a full-service vacation rental management company which helps you all the way along the journey, from buying a top-performing property, through preparing it for listing, to taking care of all day-to-day activities once you start hosting. Moreover, we charge only 15% of revenue.   

What Evolve Is

Evolve is a real estate company that specializes in the management of vacation rental homes. In addition, Evolve offers help in buying and selling short term rental properties, capitalizing on their experience in the vacation rental industry. In terms of buying vacation rentals, Evolve helps investors choose the best location, focus on the right amenities, get matched with a top agent, and find financing partners. With regards to selling a short term rental already managed by them, Evolve services include connecting sellers with an agent, providing an income potential estimate to entice investors, taking professional photos of the property for sale, and promoting the home to their database of interested buyers. Nevertheless, property management remains at the core of Evolve.

On the company website, Evolve promises to “handle the hard parts of managing your property” but doesn’t claim to look after all aspects of property management. This is an important distinction from full-service vacation rental management firms.

On the corporate side of things, Evolve was founded by Brian Egan and Adam Sherry in 2011 and is headquartered in Denver, CO. The two founders used their experience in the hospitality industry to address some of the most pressing issues for vacation rental property owners, managers, and guests. The company has attracted $224.2 million in funding in its 11-year history and remains privately owned. In 2018 Evolve acquired Everbooked, a dynamic Airbnb pricing platform.

What Evolve Property Management Is

Vacation rental management is the key service provided by Evolve. The company was established with the purpose of providing these services, and other real estate services were added to its portfolio in recent years.

At the moment the company manages over 22,000 vacation rental homes in North America. These properties are mostly owned by small-scale investors who don’t have the skills or the time to manage short term rentals on their own. The properties managed by Evolve are not owned by the company.

Our analysis of the tasks covered by Evolve reveal that this is a half-service Airbnb management company. 

Here is a list of the services which they provide:

  • Vacation rental property listing
  • Property marketing
  • Dynamic pricing
  • Booking
  • Guest communication
  • Connecting owners with an on-site cleaning and support team
  • Property monitoring
  • Liability coverage of up to $1 million and damage protection of up to $3,000 per booking

Services which Evolve property management does not offer to vacation rental owners include:

  • Getting the property guest ready
  • Vacation rental furnishing
  • Cleaning and restocking the property
  • Obtaining state and local short term rental licenses and permits

Where Evolve Property Management Is Available

Evolve vacation rental property management services cover more than 750 markets in North America. The company is focused on the US, where it is present in the Northeast, New England, the Midwest, the Great Lakes, the South, the Gulf Coast, the West, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest. Evolve is also available in a few resort cities in Mexico. Evolve property management is not currently available outside the US and Mexico.

In terms of property types, Evolve manages:

  • Houses
  • Condos
  • Apartments
  • Studios
  • Cabins
  • Townhomes
  • Cottages
  • Villas

Because of the wide geographic coverage within the US Airbnb market and the lack of restrictions on property types, short term rentals managed by Evolve include beachfront homes, waterfront homes, homes with mountain views, homes with pools, homes with hot tubs, pet-friendly homes, and many others.

However, Evolve has strict requirements on the fitness of properties which they are willing to manage. To determine if a vacation rental is fit for their property management program, Evolve looks at four core property standards:

  • Safety
  • Cleanness
  • Guest readiness
  • Being as advertised

Furthermore, owners have to ensure that their Evolve calendar is always up-to-date and that their property has approval from the city authorities to operate as a short term rental. This means that Evolve does not help prepare your investment property before you initially open your doors for service.

How Evolve Property Management Works

As a half-service vacation rental property management company, Evolve offers:

Creating a Listing for Your Vacation Rental Property

As a first step in the short term rental property management process, Evolve creates an optimized listing for your property. This includes professional photos and a description that guarantees to attract more bookings.

However, for this purpose your rental property has to be ready - furnished and clean. The Evolve team does not help with this.

Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home

Next, Evolve vacation rental property management markets your home on the company website as well as on all major short term rental marketplaces including Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and others. In addition, they market properties through display ads, paid search, social media, and their own database of travelers.

Evolve does not make it clear how much they spend on advertising through traditional channels for each property. It’s also unclear if all properties receive an advertising budget or only some.

Adjusting Daily Rates Dynamically

The third service which Evolve provides to Airbnb hosts is called SmartRates. This is a dynamic pricing engine that takes into consideration multiple factors such as seasonality and fluctuations in demand to adjust the daily rates of your property. The analysis is based on the performance of rental comps in the area and aims at striking the best balance between nightly prices and occupancy rate.

Evolve does not indicate that there is human review of pricing. Without human review of pricing it’s possible that an algorithm can misprice a property resulting in lower bookings or below average daily rates.

Communicating With Guests

Furthermore, Evolve property management takes care of all communication with guests prior, during, and after their stay. The Evolve team approves and declines booking requests and responds to questions from potential guests. They address issues while guests are on site, and after a stay finishes, they ask guests to write a review of the listing and the owner. The latter helps with attracting more bookings in the future.

Evolve does not guarantee a response time for its communications. Guests have repeatedly rated responsiveness as a top concern when reviewing a vacation rental stay.

Connecting You With an On-Site Team

While Evolve does not clean properties, change linens, and restock supplies between guests, the company can match owners with local cleaning and support professionals to build a trustable team. Evolve local partners can also help with deep clean, repairs, maintenance work, light interior decorating, setting up smart locks, and others. The level of services provided depends on the needs and preferences of the vacation rental property owner and should be agreed upon with Evolve’s local partner. However, Evolve does not participate directly in these additional services.

In case the Airbnb investor already has a team in the market, Evolve can work with them.

Protecting Your Investment Property

Last but not least, Evolve offers additional insurance and protection to the short term rentals that it manages. Namely, the company provides up to $1 million in liability coverage and up to $3,000 in damage protection for each booking done through its services.

Now that you know what services you can expect to receive from Evolve and what not, let’s have a look at what it takes to start working with Evolve.

Get Started With Evolve Vacation Rental Property Management

Getting started with Evolve requires a few steps. First, a short term rental property owner needs to submit a short online owner application. This application collects information about the property to allow the Evolve team to decide if the vacation home is a good fit for their program.

If an owner qualifies, the next step is to have a call with a Vacation Rental Advisor in order to start with the sign up process.

Evolve claims that they can have your rental listing up and available to be booked within two weeks if it’s ready for professional photography.

All in all, while Evolve takes care of a lot of the must-have short term rental property management services, it leaves important tasks out. This means that investors cannot entrust their property with Evolve with ease of mind.

Evolve Property Management Costs and Fees

Our vacation rental property management market analysis shows that Evolve indeed charges one of the lowest rates in the US. Evolve charges 10% of revenue, regardless of the location and the property type and size. This is a very transparent pricing model in which owners pay only when their property gets booked.

However, investors should keep in mind that Evolve property management fees are low for a reason, namely because they do not offer full services to Airbnb investors. Evolve does not provide crucial services like getting the property ready for listing, ensuring legal compliance, cleaning, restocking, and maintaining your vacation rental home. While the company can help pair you up with a local partner from their network, you will need to pay for all of these additional services separately.

That’s something you need to consider in your investment property analysis and in deciding whether to hire Evolve or another Airbnb property management company.

Another thing to keep in mind is the payment method. To be paid for bookings done through Evolve, as an owner, you need to set up a Stripe account. The Evolve team helps out in this regard. Once you’ve done that, booking payments get released into your account 48 hours after the check-in date. Evolve states, it usually takes 3-5 days for the transfer to show up in the owner’s bank account.

Evolve Property Management Terms and Requirements

To be fit for the Evolve vacation rental property management services, a home has to meet the company’s four core property standards: to be safe, clean, guest ready, and as advertised. Evolve has no other eligibility requirements such as property type, property size, property amenities, or anything else.

In order to have your short term rental managed by Evolve, you have to sign a vacation rental management agreement with them. The owner's obligations include the maintenance, upkeep, and repairs of the property in addition to obtaining property insurance and other types of insurance necessary for renting out.

Furthermore, the short term rental property owner is obliged to obtain any necessary permits, licenses, or other regulatory approval for this kind of business, based on the local market requirements. Similarly, you as the owner are responsible for collecting, reporting, and remitting applicable sales tax, occupancy tax, lodging, tourist, and other visitor taxes imposed by relevant government authorities. Evolve will, nevertheless, facilitate the collection and remission of occupancy tax.

Meanwhile, Evolve’s responsibilities as per the agreement include: marketing, bookings, availability calendar, rental rates and booking terms (base rates, adjusted rates, minimum base rates, minimum stay requirements, payment terms, cancelation, and refund policies), third-party marketing fees, guest service fee, guest reviews, and service providers. In terms of the latter, service providers are to be engaged directly by the owner, and Evolve is not responsible for their performance.

The agreement also stipulates the vacation rental property management fees and terms. The fee is set to 10% of all non-tax portions of the base rates by guests for all bookings. Evolve retains its management fee directly from the guest payments prior to distributing the owner payout. While Evolve reserves the right to change the management fee at any point, the company has to provide owners with a 30-day notice prior to the effective date of change.

Evolve does not require long-term commitment on behalf of Airbnb hosts. Property owners can cancel the agreement at any time via email. The cancellation will become effective in 15 days. However, if you cancel within the first 90 days of your vacation rental being activated on the Evolve website, you will need to pay a cancellation fee of $250.

Hiring Evolve does not prevent you from using your investment property for personal use. To do that, you need to block the time on your Evolve calendar, provided that there are no guest bookings for these dates.

Evolve Property Management Reviews

Evolve reviews are available on a number of customer review websites. Evolve customer reviews are split between vacation rental property owners and guests. However, reading what guests think about Evolve vacation rental property management services is good too as you want to entrust your investment property with a company that will make guests happy.

On the Trustpilot website, Evolve has an average TrustScore of 3.3, based on 3,467 reviews. This score is equivalent to average, and this should raise a red flag for Airbnb hosts considering hiring Evolve. Average owner and guest satisfaction is not enough to allow you to make a confident short term rental property management company decision.

The good reviews on Trustpilot discuss both positive owner and guest experiences. Some owners are particularly happy with the services provided by Evolve and the level of engagement.

The bad reviews written by owners focus on fraud charges, additional fees not specified in the agreement, difficulties getting out of the contract, insufficient property management services limited to marketing, lack of commitment, and poor communication with guests. Guests also highlight bad customer support experience as well as properties not as advertised.

Evolve vacation rental property management services are evaluated as poor on the BBB.org website. The company has an average score of 2.76, based on 432 customer reviews. Moreover, customers have filed a total of 161 complaints. Overall, owners complain about mismatches between the promised services and the actual services as well as bad communication after signing an agreement.

Evolve Competitors

There are multiple Evolve alternatives for managing your vacation rental property. Here we’ll take a look at two of the most popular competitors of Evolve: Vacasa, AvantStay, and Awning.

Vacasa vs Evolve

An Evolve vs Vacasa review shows that the latter - unlike the former - is a full-service short term rental property management company. Thus, Vacasa has the capacity to provide an entirely hands-off, passive-income experience to busy, inexperienced, part-time, and out-of-state real estate investors. Services include cleaning and repairs plus everything else offered by Evolve. Moreover, in addition to covering the US and Mexico, Vacasa also operates in Canada.

Similar to Evolve, Vacasa also markets vacation rentals on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and other platforms.

A con of Vacasa is that it doesn’t publicize its property management fees on the company website. Their fee depends on location, number of bedrooms, and guest amenities, so owners need to contact them directly to get a quote. In conversations with owners and through various reviews we’ve gathered that most owners pay upwards of 20% of revenue for Vacasa.

AvantStay vs Evolve

AvantStay provides more vacation rental property management services to owners than Evolve. An important example is that they help with the design, furnishing, and improvements of your short term rental to boost bookings and occupancy.

In terms of listings, AvantStay markets properties on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, and more, in addition to its own website.

The disadvantages of AvantStay include the fact that they cover only 11 US states and Mexico. Moreover, they charge a higher fee than Evolve starting at 15% of revenue.

Awning vs Avantstay

Awning offers full-service property management to vacation rental owners. This includes everything from getting necessary licensing to maintaining pools and hot tubs on the property. 

It operates in all 50 states and does not charge a different fee based on the property type, price or size. For all vacation rental owners the property management fee is 15% of revenue.

There are no additional fees with Awning and over 100 properties are currently managed by the company. 

Takeaway

Our review of Evolve vacation rental property management shows that the incomplete service package and average customer reviews don’t make them a top choice for vacation rental property management. If you’re looking for trustworthy full-service property management for your Airbnb property, you should consider another alternative.

* Awning is a full-service vacation rental management company which helps you all the way along the journey, from buying a top-performing property, through preparing it for listing, to taking care of all day-to-day activities once you start hosting. Moreover, we charge only 15% of revenue.

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