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Getting Started: Should I Hire a Property Management Company?

How to manage my lake house

Are you thinking about investing in a vacation rental home? Or maybe you've recently purchased one and you're thinking about renting it out while you're not using the home?

Whatever your unique situation is, you'll quickly find yourself asking this very important question: 'How should I manage my vacation rental home?'.

You've probably already started asking yourself questions like:

  • How will the home get cleaned?

  • How will the home get supplied with toiletries, toilet paper, light bulbs, etc.?

  • How will I know if/when the home needs updated appliances, furniture, bedding, etc.?

  • What if there's a plumbing issue?

  • What if an emergency house repair is needed?

  • What if the TV breaks; who will replace it?

As a homeowner you know to expect the unexpected. As a vacation homeowner, be prepared to expect more of the unexpected!

Luckily, you have a lot of great options to choose from when making the decision on how to manage your vacation home.

Hiring a Local Property Management Company:

If you went through that list of questions with some level of panic, a local property management company could be a good choice for you. Many vacation rental homeowners choose this option if their primary is home is far away and they are unable to quickly (and frequently) check on the home themselves.

With a local property management company, they'll allow you be a hands-off owner and will typically handle everything including managing bookings, customer service, cleaning, repairs, payments and marketing. This can be a great option if you live far away or if you are not interested in the day-to-day management of a vacation rental.

As you probably can guess, this is also the most expensive option as property management companies typically charge between 20% - 40%.

Hiring an Online Management Company:

There are also options out there like Evolve, Turnkey and Vacasa. These are large management companies that can manage a large portion of your business including the marketing, bookings, customer service and payments. They are all structured a little differently but they are typically a more affordable option than a local property management company (for example, Evolve offers a flat 10% fee from each booking).

These companies will allow you to be completely behind the scenes as they will answer all inquiries, write the listings, manage your calendar, etc.

Although, with this option, you may still need to rely on your own local resources when it comes to repairs, stocking and house cleaning. If you're interested in this type of property management, be sure to inquire about what exactly is included in the fees you pay as each one of them has a slightly different offering.

Self Manage:

You may have bought a vacation rental because you want to manage the home yourself. You may live locally and plan to manage the property yourself, or already have resources in place to manage things on your behalf.

This option is clearly the most labor intensive and if you've never done it before, it will certainly be a learning experience*.

The good news though, there are no extra fees to pay! This option puts you in full control of your rental meaning you have full quality control on the marketing, listing descriptions, cleanliness, quality of repairs, etc.

I can say from experience, self-management is an absolutely rewarding option as I get to hear from guests first-hand. By working with them directly, I know what aspects of the home appeal most to our guests (very helpful for marketing purposes), what we can do to continually improve the guest experience and I can speak very authentically to the experience as I have stayed in the home myself. I love that I can provide a first-hand experience to our guests and I know they appreciate this as well.


*Fully Booked Consulting works with vacation homeowners either starting out for the first time or transitioning from a property management company. If the 'learning experience' part seems a bit daunting to you, let us start you off on the right path!

We work with the vacation rental homeowners to ensure their listings will rank well on websites like VRBO and AirBnB in order to get more rental bookings. If you decide to not use a property management company, we would love to work with you and get you started on the right foot. Learn more.

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