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Putting Your House on the Market? Read This First!

Fifteen years ago, my parents had a lake house that was on the market for years and they just couldn't sell it. Finally, my dad had a wild idea to list it as a vacation rental home on VRBO (okay, maybe at that time it was a little 'wild'. Keep in mind, this was years before AirBnB made this mainstream!). What some thought was kind of a crazy idea turned out to be something they're still doing 15 years later! you have your house on the market? Or thinking about listing it soon?

Have you ever considered short-term renting (i.e. nightly or weekly rentals) your home on a site like VRBO or AirBnB? Sure...not every market is a great candidate for this. For example, we have a condo in St. Louis that we decided to long-term rent vs. go the vacation listing route because it did not have great potential for short-term rentals due to location.

But if the circumstances are could be worth some consideration! If you have any interest in this, you'll want to first check out if there are other homes in your market listed on these sites. If your home is downtown, in a popular vacation destination, or even a college town with sports teams that draw out-of-town visitors, you may have a small gold mine on your hands!

Here are some considerations if short-term rental sounds appealing to you:

  1. The home needs to be furnished

  2. Someone needs to be available daily to handle inquiries and bookings

  3. A key-less entry system needs to be set-up OR a personal greeter to welcome the guests and hand over the keys

  4. You need a house cleaner available on short-notice OR have plans to do it yourself

  5. You need a marketing plan

I know, I know...that last one seems a little odd in the mix, right? Could you do steps 1-4 and start getting rentals? Absolutely.

And actually, it's what my parents did for years. They had really become pros at most aspects of the rental business (and had helped SO many of their friends get started with their own vacation rental homes along the way). But for years, the pay-off was simply to break-even each year and hope the real estate investment made all the hard work worth it.

When my husband and I became co-owners in 2014, the first thing I did was create a marketing plan because I was determined to make the property profitable. It paid off quickly and continues to pay off every year as we continue to build a larger presence in our market. Actually- just the other day I noticed this fun chart (see image) in our VRBO account that says we are outperforming 95% of our market! Wohoo! Now - this certainly did NOT happen overnight. BUT, after the first year of putting the 'marketing foundation' in place, it is now SO much easier to lead in our market each year.

The point is...if you are at all considering a short-term rental, have a robust plan in place and be sure to include marketing in that plan. You will have a MUCH better chance of seeing your return on investment sooner.


If you think this sounds interesting, feel free to contact us and pick our brain. We offer a free 20 minute consultation and have marketing services geared towards those listing a home on VRBO or AirBnB for the first time. You can learn more about our vacation rental marketing services here.

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