5 Expert Tips for Managing Your Own Vacation Home Rental

by | BiggerPockets.com

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As I have said many times before in my previous articles, owning a vacation home is like running a business. The expenses and the income must balance. If you are trying to find ways to cut expenses, one of the first things you could do is manage the property yourself. Here are a few tips for managing your own vacation home.

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5 Tips for Managing Your Own Vacation Home Rental

1. Find a Quality Housekeeper

Finding a top notch house keeper is the single most important thing you must do if you’re going to manage your own vacation home. After all, the housekeeper is going to report to you the condition of your property when you are not there.

You should be looking for someone who is great at cleaning houses, detail oriented, reliable, and resourceful. The housekeeper should report back to you after every guest about the condition of the house and potential problems you may need to address in the future.

2. Hire a Good Handyman

The second most important hire is a good handyman. You need to find someone who lives close to your property and is really trustworthy. If a guest calls with a complaint, your handyman is the one you should send over to the property to check everything out. If you have a pool or spa, you can usually find handymen who would be more than happy to keep the chemical level at a safe level for you. The going rate to pay someone for general pool upkeep is around $85 a month.

Related: 8 Clever Ways to Save BIG on the Monthly Bills for Your Vacation Rental

3. Hone Your Marketing

You will need to find places to market your vacation home where potential guest can find your house and reach out to you to rent it. The most popular websites are: VRBO (to learn more about how to rent your place and list for free on VRBO, click here), Homeaway (click here to list your place for free on HomeAway—only pay when you get a booking), and many communities have their own private websites. You should be on all these plus more. After all, a guest cannot rent your property if they don’t know about it.

4. Set Up Your Own Website

You should direct all potential guests to a website you created for your vacation home. Setting up a website is really inexpensive, and it has a lot of great benefits, too.

Fact Sheet: Many guest will call you and want to ask you a lot of questions about your property. To make things easier, you should come up with a fact sheet about your vacation home. On this fact sheet, it should answer any questions a potential guest might have, and you should be able to simply email this fact sheet over to a guest. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. You get the guest’s e-mail address, which you can use to stay in touch with them not only this year but in the years to come, and
  2. It saves you time from having to sit on the phone and answer the same questions over and over again.

Online Payments: Your website should be set up to take online payments. This will make your job much easier, as most homeowners charge a non-refundable deposit, and then 30 or 45 days prior to the arrival, the remaining balance is due. By setting up online payments, you can have your payment system track when the remaining balances are due and go ahead and automatically charge the guest.

5. Come Up With a Pricing Strategy

If you are going to manage and market your own vacation home, you should come up with a strategy to maximize your nightly income. The longer you own your property, the easier this becomes, but to start off during the really high seasons, you should have your nightly prices at the upper end as compared to other comparable properties. During low season you should do just the opposite and be near the lower end. A pricing strategy is really simple: when there are more guests coming to your area than there are vacation homes, you should be near the upper end of the pricing scale, and when there are fewer guests, you should be near the lower end of the nightly rates.

Related: Sound Advice for Buying a Vacation Home You Won’t Regret

Managing and marketing your own vacation home is not hard, but it is time consuming. Remember, the guests are going to want to talk to you about your property before they rent, they will call you with many questions after they have paid the deposit, and they will definitely call you if they have a problem while they are staying in your house. You cannot put these calls off until after 5 p.m.; you will need to be able to take calls and handle situations during normal business hours.

I suggest anybody who is looking to manage their own vacation home to ease into it by having a property manager just look after the property and taking care of the guests while they are in town. This way you can do just the marketing of the property and concentrate solely on getting guests to stay in the house. Once you have the marketing under control, then you might expand your roll and handle all the customer service issues as well.

Do you have experience managing your vacation property rental? What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Leave a comment below!

About Author

Trey Duling

Trey Duling has been managing and marketing vacation homes in the Orlando and Disney World area since 2001. His passion is helping investors make their vacation homes more profitable. Please visit his website at http://www.orlandovacation.com/home-rentals/.


  1. William Allen

    Good article Trey, we are looking at buying a beach house for us to spend weekends at and as an investor I obviously want to make sure I still see a return from the property. Good stuff here to get me started thinking about the management side.

  2. Kevin Scanlon

    All great points, Trey!

    Here are a few additional things I have found are really helpful when managing my vacation rentals:

    -A pre check-in template to proactively answers all of the most frequently asked questions
    -Coffee table book with check-out instructions, local map, menus, and brochures for local attractions
    -WiFi enabled door locks to remotely add/remove access codes and monitor access history
    -WiFi thermostats to cut down on energy usage between guests

  3. Jeff Hensel

    Thanks for the article. Is there a way to have a central scheduling database so you can make automated reservations from your own marketing website and also have outside companies trying to fill your vacant dates at the same time and ensuring there is no overlap?

  4. Having your own website can really make a huge difference with marketing! If you handle things correctly, you can really drive a lot of traffic to your home. And I think we all know that more traffic means more potential renters out there. Thanks for these great tips on real estate!

  5. Thanks for these tips. I have a couple rental properties that I manage myself. I had never thought that it could be beneficial to have my own website. Now that you mention it, that sounds like a great idea. It would be a great reference for potential tenants. I will have to get that going.

  6. I really like the first suggestion you give to find a quality housekeeper if you are going to manage your rental property well. As you say, this will help you to have someone there to report the condition of your property when you\’re not there, and you will have someone there to ensure that everything is being kept in pristine condition. Additionally, I think that the next insight you give to hire a good handyman is equally important because if you are not able to address any type of damage right away that the housekeeper can\’t deal with, you will have someone to call. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I think that your first tip is the most important to managing a vacation home. I don\’t own a vacation home, but I\’ve been in several. The most luxurious and cleanest ones I\’ve been to had a good housekeeper. You could just feel that the home was in good care.

  8. I like how you said, \”Finding a top notch house keeper is the single most important thing you must do if you’re going to manage your own vacation home\”. I think that this is so true. They are the ones that will keep the place looking beautiful. They will inform you if those who stayed in your vacation home caused damage or left a huge mess. I think it\’s great advice to get a good maid, and stay on their good side.

  9. Having the best housekeeper to me is the most important person on my resort. For when the visitors arrive, the first thing they will notice is the cleanliness of the room or house. It will surely give them a good first impression and they will surely come back.

  10. I loved your tip to market your vacation rental in places that it will be seen. Like you mentioned, online is a good place because that\’s where most people will go to find what they need. Taking good quality pictures of the home is also a great way to get your home seen online.

  11. I think it\’s a great idea to set up your own website. I have been trying to plan my vacation, and we have been on plenty of websites that have really helped us look. I think that is one of the only ways that I will look for rentals. Thanks for the information.

  12. I can see why you would want to find a vacation rental home that has a handyman and a housekeeping service. That seems like a great way to make sure that the home remains in prime condition for renters. I think that my wife and I should definitely find a vacation rental that we could visit every year with our kids.

  13. Gloria Durst on

    I agree that if you are going to get a vacation rental you need to be sure to get a good housekeeper. It would seem really important to get things cleaned on time for the next guest and a good housekeeper could make sure that happens. The location of the rental would probably also be important because different areas would be better for different types of rentals.

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