'Renting by Owner' is a growing trend. Whether you own a beach house in the Caribbean, a ski chalet in Vermont, or a condo in Hawaii, renting by owner has been touted as the best way to maximize your rental income.
For the thousands of second home owners who rent their vacation homes to help pay the mortgage and other costs, renting by owner isn't possible due to career or other life demands. However, augmenting your property manager supplied bookings with for rent by owner bookings may be worth a second look in the tightening travel market and with insurance and other costs going up.
Having a property manager manage your vacation rental has its advantages - you won't be the one getting the calls in the middle of the night when tenants locks themselves out, or when the toilet is plugged or the furnace doesn't work. You don't have to worry about answering the phone, booking the property, advertising, cleaning, maintenance or a myriad of other items a property manager takes care of for you.
Renting vacation homes doesn't have to be exclusively for rent by owner or exclusively managed by a property manager. Having a property manager handle the daily maintenance, check in, cleaning and other miscellaneous chores can co-exist and actually be enhanced by marketing your property on for rent by owner websites.
If your life is too hectic to exclusively rent by owner the best thing to do is approach your property manager and see if they are willing to accept bookings you might get on your own via the for rent by owner Web sites. Some managers are willing to reduce the commission charged for bookings that you bring in. The commissions won't be eliminated altogether since the property manager still needs to handle check-in, cleaning and other miscellaneous chores. It's reasonable to ask for and get a reduction for the booking however. Often the reduction is in the range of 10 - 15%.
Once your property manager agrees (you may want to ask that the details be spelled out in your property management contract if it isn't already in there), research several vacation rentals by owner Web sites. They each have their strengths and the larger, established brands have a loyal following. Many of these for rent by owner sites enjoy high rankings for many competitive search phrases on Google and Yahoo and also enjoy repeat travelers who come back to the site whenever they travel and wish to rent.
Some sites to check out include VRBO.com, CyberRentals.com, GreatRentals.com, A1Vacations.com and a new entry - HomeAway.com. For less than $300 a year, which is often less than four lines for one month in your local paper, you'll get up to 12 photos, almost unlimited text, online calendars and rate cards.
Right now Homeaway.com has an interesting offer - for only $299/year you get your property listed on CyberRentals.com, GreatRentals.com, A1Vacations.com and HomeAway.com. CyberRentals and HomeAway are cited by Forbes.com as among the best of the web for vacation rentals.
Once you place your listing online make sure to follow these tips for successful renting:
Respond as quickly as possible to your inquiries. Life moves quickly and often internet readers are living a fast paced life and are unwilling to wait for days for an answer to questions. Responding quickly can make the difference between getting the booking and having the traveler book elsewhere.
Supply extra information. such as a new addition or upgrade to the property, a wonderful seasonal event, opening of a new restaurant or anything else that increases the readers familiarity with the area or piques their interest significantly affects booking decisions.
Show interest in the reader. and enthusiasm for your vacation home. Be patient even if the answer to a question is on your website. Sometimes people ask questions to verify what they've read online.
Welcome children. More than two million children are enrolled in year round schools and available to take vacation during the off seasons. Additionally there are millions more who aren't yet in school.
Photographs are worth a thousand words. Check with your property manager to see if the photos they shot are available for you to use, if not, have some new photos taken. Make sure to show the kitchen, main living room, outside of the house, bedrooms and any special features such as a grand fireplace or a fantastic view.