5 PART SERIES
IF ANYONE TELLS YOU THAT DOING IT YOURSELF IS EASY – PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE!
Managing a Vacation Rental is work! On a good day it will only take you 15-20 minutes on a bad day 2-4 hours.
- But is it satisfying, profitable and achievable? Absolutely!
- Do you get to “meet” incredible people from around the globe and all walks of life? Yes
- Can you break even and even make a profit with some work? Yes
Just know what you are getting into and expect the unexpected. When you are a few hours’ drive away there is a gut wrenching panic that hits in the pit of your stomach when anything goes wrong…
Silly things like:
The cleaning crew only left 6 rolls of toilet paper in the whole house for 2 bathrooms and 8 ladies staying for a girls weekend.
The property manager forgot to refill the propane tank and now we have unintentionally inconvenienced the renter to have to go get his own propane and reimburse him.
Frustrating things like:
Renters leaving wet new pool towels on the white bedding and the dye bleeds onto the 600 count sheets.
2 sisters mourning the death of a family member who booked a quiet weekend to mourn in peace. privacy and quiet. The neighbors happen to be cleaning their palm trees that weekend (men in the trees) and other neighbors began updating their fences 2 houses down and the noise carried – loudly.
Putting in a new wood dining room table and a mom lets her children play with “Blue Goop” all over it and it took off the finish in giant polka dots and then says “yeah, I noticed that” but never stopped them, mentioned or apologized for it. Sweet honeymooners were checking in later that same day with no time to fix or replace the table for them.
Serious things like:
9 drunk bachelors (they booked for a 3 guys golf weekend not a 9 guy bachelor party weekend) and they call you drunk while you are at Disneyland with your kids and they are slurring profanity that all the lights went out in the pool, spa and the backyard and that they should get a 50% discount for the “inconvenience”. Our first renters after the backyard and pool renovation. Come to find out they were trying to bypass the remote pool heating at the pool equipment and tripped the breakers themselves. To add insult to injury they were opening their glass bottles of beer in the pool and using the new glass tile corner to flip the tops off.
The 700 year storm hits and the mud from the mountain comes through your gate and literally fills your pool overflowing with mud.
Holy cow! We have been through a few things!
And yet I am ready to do it again and again – we have made some incredible friends and neighbors through this experience and heard some wonderful stories that christen our home with wonderful memories and magic.
- The lady who booked it last minute because a baby being born had come up for adoption and after so long waiting to adopt she met her new baby for the first time in our house. The thought of it still makes me cry.
- Our first renters ever after going on our own (that felt like a sign from God) that rented because they were helping an underprivileged church rebuild.
- The lovely group of men that come from around the world who play an obscure musical instrument that meet once a year to play them together in our house. It’s magical.
- Or the wonderful family that stayed for 6 weeks that loves our grapefruit and lemon trees. They would send me pictures of what they cooked with them every day in my late mother’s vintage but pristine cookware. It made me so happy. (They loved the area so much they purchased a vacation home in our neighborhood. She calls me when she is in town to sneak over and get lemons and grapefruits between renters – love them!)
- Or the Yoga group retreat sun salutation pictures in twilight light – so beautiful.
For some a Rental Agency is the answer to a prayer
I just spoke to a guest today staying in our vacation rental who was calling because she knew we managed our own and wanted to make me aware of some matters; a light bulb out in the hallway, a chipped mug and kitchen soap almost finished. She said she also owned a vacation rental and happened to absolutely love her agency – raved about how she couldn’t do it without them and that the 27% they took was worth every penny. We discussed some of the issues we had with ours and she had a different experience all together. We did not discuss profit but convenience and peace of mind. I had to agree with her.
In full disclosure, i called Agency X and referred a family member last year. My cousin has a spectacular 5 bedroom 5 bath home in a prestigious area of the desert that was stunning. She called me to help her rent it enough to absorb some of the monthly costs of keeping it. She was not looking to make a fortune but to take the edge off its $10,000 monthly overhead. I recommended she go with an agency that specialized in up-scale homes. She would get what she needed through them. She is now making a little money when she isn’t using it – for her it was win win.
Getting what you need
I really believe that it all depends on what you are looking for; someone to handle the day to day or to make money? We never assumed we would make money, we went into the vacation rental business to have the house pay for itself until we retired. With Agency X it couldn’t come near covering itself. We would not have been able to sustain a 2nd year of covering the mortgage and monthly expenses had we stayed with the agency. The way to do that for us was managing it ourselves.
As nerve-wrecking as it was at the beginning, I would do it again and again in a second. We are always looking for Vacation Rental properties wherever we travel that we love. It’s second nature to drive around neighborhoods and check out Zillow for home prices. I fell in love last year with Woodstock, Vermont in the Fall! I tried to convince my husband to buy a home there; he laughed and pointed out “What would a California girl do in 6 feet of snow? You love it because it’s October” I have to admit, I have no idea – but I’m willing to try!
If we ever bought a home out of state I would definitely use an agency. How else could you handle all of the details, emergencies and rentals? Unless you have a list of go to people who can help locally, it would not be manageable on your own. I would start my search again for the perfect agency, cross my fingers, pray and hope for the best. There are wonderful agencies out there… we just have to find them.
Thanks for stopping by,