It may seem daunting to manage a vacation rental property from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. It’s tempting simply to turn over the management of the property to a management company. But those companies typically take a large cut (often 35% or more) of any rental money earned by the VRP. Many people rent out their vacation homes as a way to make having a second home affordable; the large cut taken by management properties often changes the math so substantially that it may no longer be financially possible to own that dream vacation property. Luckily, it’s fairly simple to manage a VRP and keep all the profits.
Find a Trusted Cleaner for the Vacation Rental Property
The hardest part of managing your own vacation rental property is finding a cleaner who will not only do basic cleanin, but who will also do the chores that are critical to the success of a vacation rental property. You’ll need a cleaner who will:
- Clean all surfaces.
- Launder and change linens.
- Wash and put away any dirty dishes left out.
- Keep track of stock of cleaning supplies (like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, and any other amenities provided at the property).
- Let you know if there’s any damage to the property.
The best place to start looking for such a person is by asking the Realtor used for the purchase of the vacation property. Very often he or she will have a few names to recommend. If that fails, try posting an ad on services like Craigslist. Always interview the candidates, preferably in person, and select a licensed and bonded professional. Be sure that there is good rapport and communication. This person will play a critical role in the success of managing a vacation rental from afar.
Effective Advertising of the VRP
- Once a suitable cleaning person is found and the property is well furnished and ready to rent, it’s time to advertise. The HomeAway corporation has recently bought many of the vacation rental by owner portals out there. This makes it easier to advertise on their multiple portals, like VRBO.com, Homeaway.com, and CyberRentals.com. Listing on these portals is worth the investment; you’ll make back the cost of the listing with the first rental, and you’ll secure far more business with the listings than without.
- Another valuable (and free!) source of advertising is Craigslist.org. Post an ad every couple weeks.
- Be creative. Is the property near a ski resort? Ask to put up a flier on the bulletin board in the ski instructors’ lounge. Have the perfect spring break spot? Advertise on the local college campus.
Regardless of where you advertise, post as many pictures as possible. Renters love pictures, and the better they feel they understand the property, the more likely they are to book.
Respond to Inquiries Promptly
This is critical. Answer the phone. Answer emails. The faster you respond, the more likely you’ll be to secure a booking. Often, the potential renter fires off several emails or phone calls to VRBOs in the area. Responding quickly inspires confidence, so be attentive.
Accept Credit Cards
Renters love having the option of being able to pay by credit card over the phone, and it’s the best way for you, as a business owner, to quickly, efficiently, and dependably get payment. It’s also valuable if there’s ever damage to the property; there’s no argument and haggling with the guests, the amount can simply charged to the card on file. Accepting credit cards is one of the best ways to run a vacation rental property smoothly.
Worst case, put in some elbow grease, buy some tools like a Hobart Handler 190, and get on it!