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[Checklist] What to Review in Your New Short Term Rental Property During an Owner Walkthrough

As a Short Term Rental property manager, a huge part of your business is getting your new properties operational as fast as possible. But, it’s never easy to learn each new property inside and out, aside from spending weeks lounging in your customer’s backyard. 

After scouring the internet for a checklist for onboarding a Short Term Rental Property from an owner, and coming up short – we interviewed our customers at some of the most established vacation rental property management companies, and borrowed from their list. Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide to reviewing your new property with the owner, and an in-depth checklist of what to catalog to provide the best experience for your guests.

How to Conduct an Owner Walk-Through Meeting

No one knows your new Short Term Rental property better than the owner, and they’re going to be highly invested in making their vacation rental property a hit with guests. Any time you sign a new client, Step 1 is to invest the time to walk the property with them (or someone familiar with the property like the cleaner or a handyman) – ideally in person, but if not, tools like Zoom, FaceTime, or WhatsApp can do the trick. Here’s how to conduct your first walkthrough meeting to learn everything you need to know about the property before you ever host a guest.

1. Take a Video Tour with the Owner

Whether you meet in person, or virtually your first step when you sign a new Airbnb Short Term Rental property owner is to understand what makes their property unique. Before you do anything, let the owner know you are going to record everything – to reference it later as you build out their guidebook and FAQs. Hit record, and have the owner walk through the property as if they were a Guest. Have them explain everything from the point of arrival: 

  • How do guests typically arrive? 
  • Where do they park if they have a car? 
  • What gate or door do they enter? 
  • Do they ever have any questions or problems while entering the property? 
  • What are the top questions they ask before they arrive?

After you’ve watched the owner demonstrate accessing the property, do the same with the bedrooms (light switches, heat/AC, extra pillows and blankets), bathrooms (shower/tub, sink, supplies, lights), kitchen (oven, microwave, fridge, ice machine, dishwasher, disposal). It’s ok to keep this as a high-level video, so you can get an overall feel for the property, and identify any areas that the owner is particularly passionate, concerned, or proud of (these areas can help you build a unique listing).

Listen for words the owner users to describe the property, neighborhood, sleeping arrangements, amenities and more. You can use this language to create a unique and on-brand listing that the property owner and guests will love. 

2. Record Every Appliance in Action

Now that you’ve seen the property, it’s time to get down to the real details. Ask the owner to show you how everything works, key appliances include: 

    • Home: AC/Heat, Alarm Systems, Door Locks (get written instructions on where they keep backup keys), Outdoor Lighting, Smoke Detector, Carbon Monoxide, Speakers, TVs, Wi-Fi Router, Electric Panels
    • Bedrooms: Lights, Windows, Fans, Heat/AC, TV
    • Kitchen: Oven, microwave, fridge, freezer/ice machine, dishwasher, disposal, coffee maker
    • Bathrooms: Shower, Tub, Sink, Hair Dryer, Heated Floors
    • Laundry Room: Washing Machine, Dryer
    • Outdoors: Lighting (and Timers), Gates/Locks, Pool (and schedule)l, Hot Tub, Grills, Sprinklers (and schedules)

Record these tips and tricks with your guests in mind, often you can reuse (or re-record) and send them directly to guests. Make sure you Cover Everything like where the spare keys are hidden or how to reset the Wi-Fi router.

Ready for the full New Short Term Rental Owner Walkthrough Checklist?

3. Get a List of Names, Makes and Models of all the major appliances

Ask your property owner for a list of all of the appliances, including the manufacturer, approximate age, any special care they need, and any “tricks” to them. Virtually every appliance manual can be found online, and knowing what year, make and model the dishwasher is can ultimately save you and your property owner hundreds in unneeded house calls and service fees.

  • Maintenance Heads-Up: Older appliances might need more attention. Knowing their age helps you stay ahead of breakdowns.
  • Fixes on the Fly: If a guest has an issue, this info helps you guide them through a fix faster.
  • Plan for the Future: It also helps to know when it might be time to replace something before it gives out completely.

After the meeting you have a few more steps to take to capture the information you and guests need to know, including placing all of it (videos, write-ups) in an easy-to-search location.

4. Store Videos in a Searchable, Easy to Share Way: Edit down videos, or re-record as needed, and then make videos available for guests, maintenance teams, virtual assistants and your staff. It’s great for a quick refresher or to show your team what’s what, or to inform guests on how something onsite works. Just be sure to keep guest videos short (~0:30), upbeat and informative. Use a service like Vimeo, store in a Google Doc, or in a cloud-based property Knowledge Base.

5. Write It All Down - for You and for Guests

Videos are great, but now you’ll also need a place to write it all down, so anyone – from Virtual Assistants to guests – can search and find the information.

6. Create a Repository Just for Your Team: Consider building a Property Knowledge Base. Tools like your listings in your Property Management System are a good start, but you may need a shared solution like Google Docs or DropBox for your team to access and add to. Yada also has a Knowledge Base solution, that stores all the helpful information about your owners home in one place, for your team and our AI to search through and quickly answer.

7. Create Guidebooks, How To’s, and In Case of Emergency Info for Guests: Guests will need simple step-by-step instructions, and now that you know all the idiosyncrasies and tricks of the property, you can anticipate their questions and even answer them ahead. 

Whether you use your Property Management Systems’ Guest Guidebook, or print out a manual to leave in the home – anything you can do to proactively help guests settle into the home will improve their experience and your star ratings. There’s nothing worse than thinking that the hot water doesn’t work, only to find out that there's a "trick" to the shower 40 minutes too late.

Lastly, in addition to a Guidebook or User Manual for the home, you’ll want to include a list of contacts and actions in case of Emergency. Guests need to know when and how to get in touch with your team, and always include information about contacting the local authorities in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

So, what’s next?

By taking these steps, you’ll have a plan of action for every new property you bring on board. This isn’t just about avoiding friction with guests; it’s about making their stay incredible, and reducing the “response toll” on you  and your extended team. After all, how many times have you answered questions about parking for each of your listings? When you’ve captured every detail of the home in a searchable, always accessible resource for your staff and your guests – you’re ready to start hosting, and proactively helping guests enjoy their experiences. 

Want this list as an easy checklist to complete with each new owner? Access our downloadable Owner Walkthrough Checklist for Short Term Rental Property Managers.