My vacation rental adventure started when my husband and I were approaching retirement and contemplating moving to the Jersey Shore, now more than thirty years ago. After much searching, we settled on a home in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. The money we spent on the property was more than we originally planned, but a good value. The home fit our needs and even featured a garage apartment which rented out to summer travelers. Still, we worried about paying for the home in retirement. Our local realtor explained how with good management, the garage apartment rental revenue could contribute to the expenses and bills for both the apartment and home. Taking a big leap of faith, we went for it; one of the best decisions we ever made.
The rental apartment was in sub-standard shape when we acquired it so after renting it minimally for a year through a local realtor, we decided to completely overhaul and renovate the space. We added a cathedral ceiling, expanded the bedroom and kitchen size, added central air conditioning and fenced in the grounds. We were able to increase the rental rate from merely $250 per week to around $700 per week. We have been renting the apartment for twenty-eight years with relative success, typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day each summer.
A crisis hit us at the beginning of June 2010; a last minute cancellation of a five-week reservation from a guest who suddenly passed away. I returned the deposit to her family and started to worry whether I would fill my vacancy. This is our peak rental season and our rental agency was unable to find a new renter. My son, who lists his own property on VRBO.com, suggested I should advertise the apartment with the service. I couldn’t wait and went directly home to log on to the website and was guided through the process (it was easy as pie). The following day I had so many inquiries that I rented all five vacant weeks and then some. I had the best and most lucrative rental season in the life of the apartment and due to the high demand for my property, I have been able to raise my weekly rates to $850 per week and increase my rental revenue each season. I only wish I had been aware of VRBO sooner.
Now using VRBO full-time, I am entirely booked for the summer season each year since adopting the service. I have been booked from the start of May nearly through the end of September from a season which typically only spans three months.
One benefit about renting our home through VRBO that isn’t quite as obvious is the openness I have to be able to work other jobs. Yes, I know I said I was retired, from more than twenty years in government service at that, but I do still practice my passion of swimming and water safety instruction. The best part is, I can take a break from the water and check my iPad for new inquiries…because I’m always getting them!
With the adoption of VRBO, I have booked the past two summers solid with no other forms of advertising. So much so in fact, that my friends and neighbors have asked me to manage their vacation homes. I now manage four properties including my apartment. To put some icing on the cake, I even was able to use the capital gained from my rental apartment to fund the purchase of a new vacation rental condo which also books solid through VRBO. The condo books 100% of each summer season and goes for a weekly rental rate of $1,200. We couldn’t be happier with our properties!
By: vacation rental owner Carol Black