With the popularity of Nest thermostats, and Comcast's mobile monitored security systems rising, it highlights the ubiquitous debate of how much we can depend on robots to manage our lives. The answer is: A LOT, but there's nothing like having ears and eyes on the ground when it comes to protecting your biggest investment - and if that's a vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, you have options.
A property manager or caretaker is someone who can:
- Make sure your pipes don't burst
- Deal with real estate agents calling about your rental calendar
- Be the first contact for your summer tenants when the a/c burns out
- Fill your fridge with your favorite treats when you find your own time to visit the island
You might want all of these services for a fully hands-off home ownership experience. Maybe you just need someone to check it once a week in the winter to avert major disasters. I spoke with Claire Crowell, owner of DeepWater Estate Services, a property management and caretaking business on Martha’s Vineyard.
The day Claire and I had planned to connect and talk about caretaking, she became entrenched in a series of burst pipe emergencies due to the extremely chilly weather we've had. With her client’s interests at the forefront of her daily agenda, we postponed a couple days, which was all she needed to get everything right back in order.
When I’m working with a client buying their first property on Martha’s Vineyard, I am often asked about how the caretaking thing works. There are many degrees of service that a caretaker can provide, with varying costs to match. The advice I give is to clearly communicate what level of service you need, and ask for the cost of this service to be clearly stated. Caretakers want to meet their client’s expectations, so it’s important to articulate yours from the beginning so both parties know they can count on each other to keep the property and budget under control.
Q & A
What is the most frequent call you get from a client?
In the winter, the weather is the most frequent topic of concern for our clients. If they see some very cold or dramatic weather forecasted for the island, they call us to make additional property checks for them. In the summer, the most frequent issues we manage are broken air conditioning and wifi problems. We also get calls in season for grocery service, and errand requests.
What’s the worst house call you've had?
Fourth of July Weekend I was called to a house full of guests that became tragically full of water gushing from a burst pipe in the ceiling above the great room. When I arrived to assess the situation an unwitting guest was still in the shower that was responsible for dumping this huge volume of water.
How was it remedied?
Well first, I had them turn off the shower! I took a deep breath, identified the issue and got a lot of towels. While the water was being cleaned up, I coordinated with a plumber, contractor and then painter to get the pipe fixed and everything patched up in record time. Though July is a busy month on the island, it’s actually a slow time of year for contractors, which was lucky for us in being able to get them scheduled so quickly.
Who is your dream client?
It’s very simple really! My dream client has clear expectations, communicates clearly and trusts us to do the job.
If you did not have this caretaking business, what would you be doing on the island or elsewhere?
I would be working on large private yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. If my life had not brought me to Martha’s Vineyard I would still be living on boats chasing the sun.
All of Claire's services are tailored to suit the individual needs of her clients, she is happy to discuss personalized service just for your home.