VRBO w/ HomeAway

10 Replies

So my father-in-law purchased a cabin in Big Bear, CA. Felt like it was a waste and wanted to sell. I found a site ,VRBO, while searching for an anniversary get-away. The system seems like a no brainer for a REI strategy. Any views and opinions on what to watch out for? Strategies?

You should check out the "search" the site function for vrbo. You will find a TON of resources on this. I personally am looking to start in this industry as I think in the "right" area and strategy one could be very successful

Hello @Josh Williams  , I do management for vacation rentals in Big Bear. I'm happy to help with some advice:

Yes, VRBO is a great resource. Make sure that before your father-in-law puts a listing up, that he has housekeepers, maintenance people and inspectors set up. He will also need a way of collecting money and a contract for renters to sign. 

He also will need to set up the rental with either the City of Big Bear Lake, or the County of San Bernardino, depending on where the cabin is located.

I hope this helps! Michelle

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Yes, VRBO is a great resource. Make sure that before your father-in-law puts a listing up, that he has housekeepers, maintenance people and inspectors set up. He will also need a way of collecting money and a contract for renters to sign. 

I agree with @Michelle L. on all of the above.   In addition to this important pre-requisite, you'll also want all the furnishings, etc. necessary for the comfort of the guest so they bring nothing but their personal belongings. Peruse the rentals in your area (VRBO, HomeAway, etc.) by checking other owner calendars with the most dates rented and see what they're offering compared to others.   Make sure your rents are competitive, as well. You never want to over price yourself out of the market.  On the other hand, don't price your rents too low, or the guests will wonder what's wrong with your home.  Factor in the costs of utilities, and advertising on your vacation website.  As for collecting money and rental agreements - there are options and/or examples on various vacation rental websites to also help you.

I have a few vacation rentals, and love the opportunity to share my home with others!  

Hope this helps,


As a user of the service (and the properties offered), I love VRBO; we've used it for years to book condos and houses down on the Texas Gulf.  If I owned a vacation property, I'd use it to make $ when not in use.

Another option is AirBnB.com.  I haven't used it and heard it's more expensive for property owners, but it's hard to argue with their mega-success.  That said - VRBO is very well known and should deliver good traffic & value to your father-in-law.

I've been on biggerpockets for a while now and learning a lot about different strategies but didn't feel like I had much opportunity to add value so I have remained quiet in the background.  On this topic, however, I can definitely offer some insight.  My husband and I purchased a vacation rental in Maine in 2010.  It was a shortsale.  For the entire length of ownership we have relied on two marketing strategies..word of mouth from our guests and vrbo.  We have been fully booked every summer week and fall weekends for rentals and quite a few weekends in the off season (which, in this part of Maine is winter and spring as we are 30 mins from the closest ski area..it is more of a lake/fishing/boating area).  They have a "community section" on vrbo with forums on which you can post and find useful forms and checklists.  In addition, there us a vacation rental owner group on yahoo that I find helpful.  The drawback is the red tape of the corporate structure of it all but, all in all, it has proved successful and we have another successful summer lined up already with only a few peak weeks left to book and it is only March.

And try googling heather Bayer.  She has a vacation rental podcast in iTunes which she posts weekly.  

Good Luck to you!

I certainly appreciate the input from everyone. I'm actually on the consumer side of VRBO at the moment and certainly appreciate the quality of folks that use it to promote their VR. The lady I am speaking with now has a place in Topanga Canyon. I've been picking her brain as well.

@Account Closed From my personal use of VRBO I've only paid through their site and corresponded with the owners of the property. There wasn't a rental agreement, so when would one be necessary? Maintenance, cleaning, and inspection would be done by us. We live close by on the flats of Apple Valley and are handy. We have actually treated the place as rental already amongst the family members that visit. 

Thank you again everyone!

@Josh Williams the online vacation rental industry is exploding right now.. VRBO is very popular, as is AirBnB. The most popular one in the Orlando area is Homeaway.com. 

I'm an agent now, and work with clients who come to Disney World, use a website, and realize they want to buy and invest... almost all my business comes from this type of person. I'm aspiring investor, and see no reason why, if your property was listed on ALL of those websites.. you could probably have a very high occupancy rate for short term rentals. (anything over 65% is considered "high" here).

In addition, I know of some short term rental management software that will actually centralize your bookings... so if someone books your rental with airbnb, it will block the calender dates on the other prominent websites. it's a useful tool when juggling many booking sites, but keeps exposure high. Anyway, good luck to you!

@Josh Williams You should definitely have a rental agreement. You can upload one to VRBO. It should cover things like renter damage, check-in and out times, cancellation policy, storm policy, etc. Without it, you have no recourse if there are problems. Go on my website: BigBearDreamCabins.com. Click on Rental Info / Reservations Policy. You can copy my agreement if you like. I have no problem with that. Michelle

Christine Karpinski's book is also good, she has a website http://howtorentbyowner.com/ as well. She's considered one of the experts in this area.

I've been very successful with my proprieties on VRBO, one is in Big bear and I self manage with no problems. 

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