Considerations when choosing a vacation home rental agency

You finally fulfilled the dream: you invested in a vacation home. But if you’re like many short-term rental homeowners, you never imagined the time, energy, and money it would take to manage it. If marketing your vacation home, making reservations, stocking toiletries, and doing yard work is starting to feel like a second job, you've come to the right place.

For the sake of your stress level, and your wallet, it may be time to consider hiring a company that can take care of renting and maintaining your property. Allow this guide to serve as your go-to resource for understanding and finding the right team to help you worry less, save time, and earn more money.


What do property management companies do?

If you’ve always done the work for your rental yourself, you may not know what you’re missing. Property management companies exist to help with the upkeep and maintenance of your home. Top-tier companies even take care of the marketing and rental side by promoting your home, pricing it accurately, making guest reservations, and providing 24/7 guest service.

Ideally, finding a company that offers an all-inclusive approach to managing your home, rather than an a la carte menu, will save you time, effort, and, in the end, money. While a host of companies you research will offer different service packages, follow Realtor.com's list of must-haves when considering a new partnership. You should be able to rely on your property manager to market your home, establish rent, screen all guests, give you protection from lawsuits, make emergency repairs, track all expenses, provide any necessary tax documents, and perform house visits or checkups.

While there's a long list of tasks you can rely on a property manager to do, here are a few that we take care of at Vacasa that may surprise (and delight) you:

  • List your home on top sites like VRBO, HomeAway, VacationRental.com, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor
  • Adjust your rental rate multiple times per day to account for seasonality, local events, timing, and more
  • Offer a central reservations and guest services team while also having local management in your area
  • Complete regular inspections and use technology to keep track of each one
  • Supply household goods such as shampoo, dish soap, trash bags, and laundry detergent
  • File your sales and lodging taxes and make the payments on your behalf

As you decide whether a property management company is right for you, be sure you do your research to understand what each one offers, what kind of contract is required, and what their fee structure is.


Should you hire a property management company?

There are many arguments for why a property management company is a smart investment. Most homeowners choose to hire a company for three main reasons: they want to save time, they want to worry less about booking and maintaining their home, and they want to earn more rental income. If you fall into one of these categories, a support team for your vacation home could be just what you need.

If you’re tired of making multiple trips to your property to drop off toilet paper and trash bags, a property management company may be in your future. When tax time comes around and you’re struggling to get your rental numbers straight, remember that great property managers are experts when it comes to filing taxes. Can’t seem to get enough renters to make your short-term rental worth the investment? A property manager can ensure that your home is always booked, and therefore make you money.


How to find a rental property manager

With a quick online search, you can start looking for a professional team to take great care of your short-term rental. Simply search “vacation home property management” and you’ll see results for the top companies in the country.

Pick a few reputable companies from your search and compare their service offerings (see below for help with this). Ask questions via a phone call, or find a FAQ page on each property manager’s website.

Look for unbiased reviews from customers who use each service, paying close attention to the specific reasons they like or dislike a company. Pick the top five tasks that you don’t enjoy doing when it comes to your vacation home, and make sure the property manager can take these responsibilities (and more) away from you.


When to hire a property manager

You can hire a vacation home property management company whenever you have the need. The process is easier than you may think, and most of it can be done online. To save you time and limit your stress, there are a few circumstances where signing on with a property manager is a must.

If you don’t live near your vacation home, it’s time to call in some help. Whether you’re one hour away or eight, the logistics necessary for you to take care of the property yourself just don’t make sense. Find a trustworthy company that can be near your home but also has a centralized team that takes care of marketing and reservations.

Not a DIYer? Most of us aren’t. You can stop cringing every time your home needs a light bulb replaced or your guests are experiencing a clogged drain. Hiring a property management company means you get to say goodbye to maintenance work. Forget housekeeping, too. Your cleaning days are over—after each guest leaves, professionals will get your house back into tip-top shape.

Are you convinced yet? If you’re still concerned that the cost to hire a property manager may not be worth it, think again. With Vacasa, for example, we offer one comprehensive fee to manage every part of your rental. You’ll also see how you can make more money working with us than going at it alone.


Property manager interview questions

As you decide if a property management company is the right choice for you and your short-term rental, ask these questions:

  • What is the fee structure? Are there any extra fees for credit cards, booking channels, management, etc.?
  • What does the housekeeping process look like?
  • How frequent does the company make house visits, and do they cost extra?
  • Can I cancel my contract at any time?
  • How will the company market my vacation home to make sure bookings are steady?
  • Will there be any restrictions on when I can use my property?


Local vs. national property management companies

Another question that may come up as you’re looking into property managers is whether to go with a local or national company. It’s a great debate, because you want a team that is an expert in your area, but there is something to be said about the marketing experience of a national company.

Finding a company that checks both boxes will make your life easier—yes, they do exist, and we’re proud that Vacasa is one of them. You’ll always have a local team close to your home for the day-to-day upkeep. At the same time, your home will be promoted on top booking channels like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and more.

Deciding between a local and national company shouldn’t even be a choice, because you can always have both.


Property management companies (and how they differ)

As you work through your search for top vacation home property management companies, you’ll run into a few different types of service offerings. To help you decide which is best for your property, here’s what you can expect from each.

If you’re looking for a partner that takes care of the entire vacation home lifecycle, Vacasa will be your top choice. As a full-service property management company, our aim is to make renting easy while helping you earn as much income as possible on your rental. We offer real estate and interior design services, hire our own housekeepers, and file your taxes—and that’s just the start. Our comprehensive, all-in-one fee allows homeowners to hand over the keys to literally every part of the rental experience.

Evolve is a platform that helps you list, market, and rent your vacation home. They connect homeowners with local contractors for property management services like house visits, maintenance, and housekeeping. With Evolve, you won’t have to put much effort into renting your home, but you will have to be very involved in the upkeep of it.

Turnkey is another full-service property management and booking company. They will market your home and help with the upkeep, but they do not hire their own housekeepers or have an all-in-one service fee structure. For example, Turnkey charges for restocking supplies like shampoo and toilet paper.

If you’re looking for a platform that will guarantee a monthly rental income, Rented.com might be an option. They will rent out your property but do not provide any property management services. Rented.com does try to connect you with a local property manager, but you are required to handle the relationship yourself.


Special considerations when choosing a cabin rental agency

If you own a cabin and are thinking about hiring a property management company, you’ll want to fully understand what’s included in their services. While it may be helpful to have a local team that knows specifically how to take care of cabins, will the team help you actually rent the property? Make sure there is a sophisticated marketing plan in place and dynamic pricing, so your property will always be booked for the right rate. Having your home show up on the top rental websites will bring in guests from around the world.

How is snow removal handled? Will the company service your hot tub at no additional cost? Do they refill propane tanks? These are important questions to ask before committing to partnering with an agency to rent your cabin.


Special considerations when choosing beachfront property management

Similarly, if you’re a beachfront homeowner you’ll want to be sure your guests, and your home, are always at the forefront of your property manager’s mind. Can guests contact the company 24/7 rather than waking you up in the middle of the night?

If you have a pool, is cleaning included or do you have to hire a separate vendor to maintain it? What protection is in place to prevent damage from hurricanes? Are housekeeping services a part of the package to remove the build-up of sand after every guest’s stay?

Remember, this is your home. You should be able to enjoy it while making renting easier on yourself and earning more income. Your due diligence during your research process is critical to hiring the best property management company for your rental.



Vacation rental management

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