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Ultimate Guide

Top Resources, Tips, & Tricks for Maximizing Rental Income

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO

Vacation Home Ownership

Learn how to find the right rental home for your needs, maximize rental income, and sell your vacation rental for profit with great ease. Regardless of what stage you're in, you can relax. It's rented.

Should you buy or rent?

1

Should you buy or rent?

To begin your journey, you have to decide if it even makes sense to buy a vacation home as opposed to renting one.

Read some of the advantages and disadvantages of buying in this post.

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Owner usage: Use it or lose it.

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Owner usage: Use it or lose it.

The first question to ask yourself is: Would I use it? Do you see the home as a place you’d go every weekend, or would you primarily want to rent it? Is your primary residence too far from work, so you need a place closer to the office? Or do you have a place in the city and prefer to spend your weekends with the family in a less urban environment?

Read tax implications of each scenario in this post.

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Earning rental income as a real estate investment

3

Earning rental income as a real estate investment

Maybe the purpose of the home is not to serve as a vacation rental. If you’re looking to make money from the upside on the increase in the property value, it may be an investment property you need.

Learn how to find one in this post.

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How do you know if a vacation rental is right for you?

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How do you know if a vacation rental is right for you?

Rental income earning potential is a factor considered in 78% of vacation home purchases, so how will it factor into yours? Will you rely on rental income to make the home purchase financially feasible for you, and how will this influence your decision making process?

If you need help seeing how much a vacation home could make for you, contact us, or try our Rental Grader.

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Retirement planning with your vacation home

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Retirement planning with your vacation home

For many, purchasing a vacation home can play into retirement plans. Are you looking to move when you retire, and is now a better time to buy the property?

Read this post to learn the 5 benefits of having a second home in your retirement plan.

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Can you afford to purchase a vacation rental?

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Can you afford to purchase a vacation rental?

A vacation rental home can be a costly purchase. Before going further, know your all-in costs. Can you expect to make any money from the home; and will you need to?

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Costs of owning a vacation home

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Costs of owning a vacation home

With the purchase of a vacation rental, you’ll likely be paying a mortgage. Make sure you consider how you will be financing the home when determining the cost of ownership.

If you’re looking for information on how to finance a rental home, this is the post for you.

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Other costs of owning a vacation home

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Other costs of owning a vacation home

Don’t forget to factor in additional costs like maintenance, repairs, furnishing, yard work, HOA fees, etc.

Want to see how much you could make with a home? Try the Rented.com Rental Calculator to see how much you could earn.

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Tax on rental income

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Tax on rental income

There are several things you’ll need to take into account when looking at taxes.

Learn more about taxes on rental income in this post.

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Is a long- or short-term rental right for me?

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Is a long- or short-term rental right for me?

If you’re approaching the rental as an investment, it’s important to compare your options. Would a short-term rental be more profitable for you, and are you willing to take the risk of doing a short-term rental?

Before deciding which option is best for you, consider this.

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Is vacation rental property management right for you?

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Is vacation rental property management right for you?

For many, using a vacation rental property manager is an easy way to reap the rewards of a short-term rental while passing off the work to a professional. We can help you determine whether or not property management is right for you.

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Options for managing a second home

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Options for managing a second home

How will you take care of the home? HomeAway reports that hosts spend on average 10 hours per week self-managing their vacation rentals. Do you have the time you need to commit to running your vacation rental as a business? Or will you need hired help? Here are some of your options.

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Death, rental income tax, and your vacation home

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Death, rental income tax, and your vacation home

How can you structure the ownership of the home in the most tax efficient manner? Will you use your IRA to purchase your vacation home? Speak to your financial advisor to learn the best practices.

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Financing a rental property (part 1)

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Financing a rental property (part 1)

How will you pay for your new home? Can you get a reasonable mortgage?

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Financing a rental property (part 2)

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Financing a rental property (part 2)

How can you lock in a deal for renting the home even before you purchase to help cover the costs?

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Financing a rental property (part 3)

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Financing a rental property (part 3)

Do you want to buy the home on your own or create a group? What are the risks of each?

Learn how to buy and share a vacation home with family and friends.

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Best places to buy rental property

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Best places to buy rental property

Do you want your home to be somewhere easily drivable and accessible, or would you rather see the home as a retreat—somewhere more removed from your primary residence?

Or is this purely an investment where returns are the most important factor?

If so, Rented.com’s Short Term Rental Income Report can help find the best places to buy rental property.

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Does size really matter?

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Does size really matter?

It does! Homes with more than 3 bedrooms make up 50% of rentals, and HomeAway reports that the biggest and smallest homes get the most bookings per year, while the mid-sized homes get fewer.

While larger homes will naturally attract larger groups, another option is to rent rooms individually. Would you do social group bookings for larger homes?

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What type of rental property is best for you?

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What type of rental property is best for you?

Of course, there are pros and cons of having single family homes, condominiums, townhomes, and cabins. Be wary of things like maintenance, upkeep, and HOA fees.

Here are some of the pros and cons of buying a condo vs. house.

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How much can I make in rental income?

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How much can I make in rental income?

The amount you can make in rental income is going to depend on many factors. Using Everbooked data and Rented.com’s free rental grader, you can compare your home to others nearby to see how much you can expect to make.

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Vacation rental and Airbnb amenities

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Vacation rental and Airbnb amenities

What does the home need to include? A pool? A jacuzzi? Is access to a beach, lake, or other local attraction essential for a profitable Airbnb in your area? Amenities will affect how attractive your home is, so make sure you know what is in demand in your area.

Discover the top amenities worth investing in.

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In need of something ready to go, or is a fixer upper right for you?

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In need of something ready to go, or is a fixer upper right for you?

Are you more the DIY type, or do you opt for valet parking when available?

How much work do you want to put into your purchase?

Here’s how to know if a fixer upper may be right for you.

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Comparing properties for rental income potential

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Comparing properties for rental income potential

With over 20,000 U.S. vacation rental property managers, it can be difficult to find the right one for your home. Compare local vacation rental property managers for your home here.

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Finding a real estate agent for your vacation rental purchase

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Finding a real estate agent for your vacation rental purchase

Now that you know what you are looking for, a local real estate agent can help you find your dream vacation home.

Here’s how to pick a great partner.

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Buying a rental property

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Buying a rental property

It’s time to pull the trigger! This will likely end up being an emotional decision, but try to stick to your budget and principles as you move to closing on the purchase.

Remember these tips when purchasing the rental!

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Preparing a home to be rented

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Preparing a home to be rented

Congratulations on your purchase! Before getting started, there is still work to be done.

Is there any work you need or want to do before you visit, and where is the home? If you’re nearby, it could be best to do it yourself. Otherwise, find trusted local contractors to help you where needed.

Can your neighbors recommend any?

Follow these Airbnb guidelines to prepare your home for rent.

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Stocking a vacation rental

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Stocking a vacation rental

What will your guests need when they’re staying in your home?

Having a well-stocked vacation rental will be essential in attracting the right guests. But what do they need, and what would be excess? Check out our list of items to have in your vacation rental to make sure your guests are never in need.

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How will you rent out the home while you’re not there?

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How will you rent out the home while you’re not there?

Will you have a local person on retainer to keep an eye on things? Will you be on the hook for driving up to keep the home maintained, and will you be handling repairs?
Not sure where to go to find local help? Make sure you have these tools under your belt to help you manage remotely.

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How much could you make with a property manager?

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How much could you make with a property manager?

We’ve seen homeowners earn 300% more in rental income by simply using a property manager. See how much a property manager could pay you for your home.

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Airbnb automation: Controlling your home from anywhere

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Airbnb automation: Controlling your home from anywhere

From smart locks to smart thermostats, there are many tools and services that can help you self-manage from anywhere in the world.

Want to learn all about what in your home you can automate? This is how home automation can save you time and make you money.

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A look at short-term rental regulations: Can I rent my home?

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A look at short-term rental regulations: Can I rent my home?

Before renting your home, make sure you are compliant with local regulations. Avoid horror stories like these to steer clear of fines, and know the following:

What does the law say (state, city, etc.)?

Does your neighborhood/building/HOA allow it?

If no on either or both above, what resources do you need? The Short Term Rental Advocacy Center can guide you!

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How much rental income can you expect to make?

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How much rental income can you expect to make?

Know the rental income potential for the home, and grade your property to see what nearby homes are making on Airbnb.

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How to increase your rental income

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How to increase your rental income

Know what renters look for in an Airbnb, and make sure you are providing it.

How can you make the most of what you already have, or with limited investment get an outsized return?

Increase your rental income with these foolproof steps.

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Rental options for larger homes

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Rental options for larger homes

For larger homes, does it make sense for you to rent the rooms on an individual basis? Social bookings could help make the home more accessible to individual travelers while increasing your rental income.

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How do you want to rent your home?

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How do you want to rent your home?

Look into your local Airbnb management options, and find the best solution for you.

Would you rather maintain 100% control and do 100% of the work?

HomeAway reports that homeowners need 8.4 to 10 hours per week (on average!) to self-manage their vacation rentals. Do you have that time?

Or would you rather work with a team of local professionals and outsource the work? If you live far from your vacation rental or simply don’t have the time to do it yourself, this is likely the better option for you.

Follow this advice to know if working with a property manager is right for you.

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What is property management, and how do I pick an Airbnb manager?

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What is property management, and how do I pick an Airbnb manager?

Working with a vacation rental manager can be highly rewarding and can be an easy path to passive income. With over 20,000 U.S. managers available, you’ll want to pick the right one for you.

Make sure you consider this before picking a manager.

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How to promote and market your vacation rental

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How to promote and market your vacation rental

There are plenty of tools and resources out there to help you promote and market your home. Want to learn more about how to manage your vacation rental? Here is a list of our favorite industry resources.

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The best sites for listing your vacation rental

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The best sites for listing your vacation rental

With hundreds of vacation rental websites like Airbnb, VRBO, and Tansler out there, how will you know which one is right for you? Will you post your home on multiple sites to get the most traffic, and if so, how will you sync your bookings? Here are the best listing sites for your home.

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The magic of using a channel manager

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The magic of using a channel manager

If you’re planning on listing on multiple sites, a channel manager may be right for you. Sync your bookings and publish your listing to multiple sites. Want to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about using a channel manager.

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How to create a better vacation rental listing

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How to create a better vacation rental listing

VRBO’s changing algorithms have been a hot topic for a while now. To get ahead of the curve and to create the most appealing listing, make sure you’re optimizing your listing. Want to know how? Check out our Ultimate Guide to VRBO’s Best Match and Instant Booking.

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Creating an independent listing site

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Creating an independent listing site

Don’t want to have to play by the rules or be dependent on VRBO or Airbnb? If so, you might want to set up an independent listing site. While there are perks to doing so, keep in mind you’re going to have to compete with some of the most popular travel sites for your traffic, and it may take a lot of work to regularly maintain.

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Designing an independent vacation rental website

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Designing an independent vacation rental website

Luckily, there are tools to help you establish an independent listing site.

Follow these five steps to start on the path of vacation rental independence!

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The power of vacation rental photography

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The power of vacation rental photography

A picture is worth 1,000 words, and Airbnb photography is a great and extremely powerful way to increase your bookings. Want to know what guests search for when browsing vacation rental photographs? Follow these vacation rental photography tips from Tyann Marcink, the Airbnb photography expert.

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Beyond vacation rental photography

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Beyond vacation rental photography

In the race for more bookings, some homeowners and managers are getting even more sophisticated with how they’re showing properties to guests. Does your home need drone photography, virtual reality tours, or virtual floor plans? It could help with bookings!

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Vacation rental payments: how to get paid on Airbnb or VRBO

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Vacation rental payments: how to get paid on Airbnb or VRBO

Now for the important part… How will you be paid? Make sure guests have a means of paying you online and in advance.

These tools may be able to help.

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Getting your vacation rental optimized and ready for mobile

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Getting your vacation rental optimized and ready for mobile

We know millennials are glued to their phones, so how can you get your rental mobile-ready? Advertise on mobile, offer wifi in the home, and make it easy for guests to book from their phones.

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How to stock your vacation rental

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How to stock your vacation rental

Now that you’re ready to rent, make sure your renters have what they’ll need. Stock your vacation rental with these essentials to keep your guests satisfied.

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Dynamic pricing for your Airbnb

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Dynamic pricing for your Airbnb

How will you be pricing your vacation rental? Look at competitive homes in your market and their calendars to get a better idea of local supply and demand.

Not sure how to price around local events or seasons? Tools like Everbooked, Smart Host, Airdna, and Beyond Pricing can help with yield management.

Want to see more? This is how they helped price homes during the Super Bowl!

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Using Airbnb home automation to your advantage

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Using Airbnb home automation to your advantage

Why do all the hard work when technology can do it for you? Automate your Airbnb to manage it remotely. Did you know you can automate your garage door, thermostats, door bell, and more?

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Avoiding and handling vacation rental complaints

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Avoiding and handling vacation rental complaints

Now that guests are beginning to rent out your home, the inevitable will happen: You’ll have complaining guests. Want to avoid Airbnb complaints and learn some of the best ways to handle them? Take this stellar advice.

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The importance of having a vacation rental guestbook

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The importance of having a vacation rental guestbook

A guestbook is a great way to interact with guests, tell your vacation home’s story, and get feedback from your visitors. Set up a guestbook early into renting, and see what a difference it can make.

Here’s one way having a guestbook with a comment section can drastically help reduce complaints.

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Vacation rental and Airbnb insurance

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Vacation rental and Airbnb insurance

Check with your insurer to make sure your home and the items inside it are covered for renter damage. You may want to add liability insurance as well.

Here’s a guide to vacation rental and Airbnb insurance by insurance expert, Darren Pettyjohn.

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How to screen and choose Airbnb guests

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How to screen and choose Airbnb guests

We’ve heard some of the worst Airbnb horror stories, so how will you avoid your own? While you might set up age or other restrictions, how will you know when guests are lying to you?

Tools like Safely Stay can help you screen guests and get a better understanding of who will be staying in your home.

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Vacation rental pitfalls to avoid

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Vacation rental pitfalls to avoid

Make no mistake, while running a vacation rental yourself can be extremely rewarding, you’ll want to do it right.

Avoid these 10 worst Airbnb mistakes to make sure your rental business runs smoothly.

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Choosing your personal weeks

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Choosing your personal weeks

Every time you use the home yourself, it decreases how much you earn. How often do you plan on staying in the home, and what weekends or weeks are best to avoid losing out on rental income?

Remember this to run your vacation rental like a business.

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Staying on top of short-term rental regulations

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Staying on top of short-term rental regulations

Federal, state, city, neighborhood, and even building rules are constantly in flux. Follow your local developments here to stay on the right side of the law.

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Everything you need to know about vacation rental taxes

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Everything you need to know about vacation rental taxes

If you are renting out your home, you will likely owe occupancy taxes as well as property taxes. How will you track this and pay the required sums?

Take this into consideration when doing your vacation rental taxes.

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Keeping up with the industry trends

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Keeping up with the industry trends

The industry landscape is changing quickly. How will you stay on top of developments?

Read quarterly industry updates from the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) here.

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Industry best practices

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Industry best practices

Want to know what the industry experts are saying? There are plenty of blogs and resources to view. These are some of our favorites.

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Investment property forums and networking

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Investment property forums and networking

Will you want to talk to other like minded investors and hosts? There are places for that too.

Here are some of our favorite investment property forums.

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Avoiding host fatigue: Building your team of resources

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Avoiding host fatigue: Building your team of resources

Starting to see why this takes 10 hours per week according to HomeAway and VRBO? Build a team to help you avoid it.

You’ll need a plumber, handyman, cleaners, key handler, and more. Here’s how to find them.

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Avoiding host fatigue: Make it a repeatable process

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Avoiding host fatigue: Make it a repeatable process

Document everything you need to do step by step. What can you automate?

Document every question or issue that arises. Can you answer it beforehand going forward in your guidebook?

Still need to automate things? Start here.

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Avoiding host fatigue: Have a

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Avoiding host fatigue: Have a "Plan B."

Will your list of speed dial contacts always be available when you need them (e.g., at 3am on Christmas Eve)?

Have a backup list of contacts for when times go wrong.

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Finding Airbnb management

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Finding Airbnb management

Looking to find Airbnb management but not sure how or where to start? Call or chat with us below so we can help!

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Working with an onsite property manager

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Working with an onsite property manager

An onsite manager will often be available for condos and vacation homes. Should you use one though? Unfortauntely, probably not. With little competition, the onsite manager can charge more and offer a lower quality of service. They may also try and make you think you are not allowed to use anyone but them. This, however, is not true or allowed.

Consider the onsite manager in comparison to other local management solutions.

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How to pick the right Airbnb manager for your home

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How to pick the right Airbnb manager for your home

There’s a lot you should know before committing to an Airbnb manager. With over 20,000 available in the U.S., how will you know when you’ve found the right one for you?

Before agreeing to work with a company, ask these essential questions.

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Everything you need to know about property management commission

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Everything you need to know about property management commission

When working with a property manager and a traditional rental agreement, you’ll likely be paying a commission.

Not sure what to expect from a vacation rental manager charging commission? Here are what people are saying about Airbnb commission.

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Guaranteed contracts: An alternative way of working with an Airbnb manager

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Guaranteed contracts: An alternative way of working with an Airbnb manager

While not as well-known as commission arrangements, guaranteed contracts are a viable and great option for many homeowners. In this type of arrangement, a property management company would buy out your available weeks at a fixed and guaranteed yearly rate.

This type of arrangement is ideal for anyone looking to pass off the risk to a management company. It’s as risk-free as a long-term rental, and it still provides the economic benefits of a short-term arrangement.

Want to learn more about fixed rate rentals? This is what the Vacation Rental Managers Association had to say.

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Comparing vacation rental management contracts

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Comparing vacation rental management contracts

Every manager uses a different contract, which means it can be difficult to accurately compare commission rates.

How can you do an apples to apples comparison? Find out exactly what the manager’s responsibilities are, and make sure you know where you might be charged extra.

If that seems like too much work, you can always ask them to compete and come to you with their best offers.

Interested in having over 600 of the world’s best property management companies come to you? Let us know, or create your free Rented.com profile to start.

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Setting up vacation rental and Airbnb management contracts

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Setting up vacation rental and Airbnb management contracts

How long should your arrangement be, and are there examples of industry contracts? The industry standard is one year, but will you want to carve out any time for personal use?

View some of the industry’s most homeowner-friendly contracts to see what managers and offering.

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When is it time to look for a new Airbnb manager?

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When is it time to look for a new Airbnb manager?

Not happy with your Airbnb manager? Maybe it’s time to start looking for someone new. As it’s important to schedule bookings in advance, you’ll want to leave lead time (3 months before your contract ends or more) when looking at other management options.

Most switching occurs at the end of the year, so you may be able to benefit from switching when managers are less busy signing new owners.

This is how to know it’s time to fire your vacation rental manager.

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What is the process for switching managers?

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What is the process for switching managers?

Can you get out of your current contract? Typically, the answer is yes.

Remember this to make your transition as easy as possible.

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How it works: Rented.com

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How it works: Rented.com

Rented.com works in three easy steps:

1. Create a Profile: Create a private profile to begin getting offers. Add photos, a description of your home, and the dates you want it rented. This is what the managers will use to make offers on your home.

2. Compare Offers: Once managers have made their offers, choose from our 600+ vetted and approved professional managers to find the perfect fit.

3. Get Paid: Once you’ve found a property manager you like, start collecting your monthly checks!

Ready to get started?

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Hear what Rented.com customers are saying!

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Hear what Rented.com customers are saying!

Want to see what our customers are saying about the Airbnb management they’ve found through Rented.com?

See how John hired an Airbnb manager for free and made 16% more.

Or how Gene stopped using his old management company and made 33% more in guaranteed income.

Nita is another homeowner we helped who was dissatisfied with her old manager. She was able to switch and make 300% more in guaranteed income.

There was also Lance, who became fed up with managing his home and cleaning up after renters. He used Rented.com to make $37,000 in guaranteed income with his $200,000 home.

Richard was another homeowner we helped. After self-managing his Destin complex became too much work, he found a management company with Rented.com and started earning more money with no work.

Or are you an out-of-state investor? When Sharon realized that self-managing her Palm Springs home from New York was a full-time job, she used Rented.com to get $150,000 in guaranteed income.

Want to see your success story here? Contact us to see how Rented.com can help you.

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Comparing property management pricing

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Comparing property management pricing

With fees and commissions varying so widely, it’s not easy to accurately compare management companies. For transparent pricing & an accurate comparison, view local management offers here.

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Exiting: Life event

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Exiting: Life event

Has there been a change in family circumstances? Are you moving and no longer can drive easily to the home? Have your kids left the house and you don’t need to use it as much?

Here are some ways to know it’s time to sell.

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Exiting: Life event

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Exiting: Life event

Can you no longer afford to keep the home?

Are there other options to help you keep it?

Try renting it out, bringing in other co-owners, or refinancing. Here are additional options.

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Exiting: When it's financially lucrative

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Exiting: When it's financially lucrative

Maybe your reason for getting out is that it’d be lucrative to do so. Has the value increased so much that you just need to sell now? Would holding onto that value and still tapping into the rental income be even better for you financially?

Here’s how to know if it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market.

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Exiting and your options

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Exiting and your options

Will you pass it on to the next generation? Make sure you know the most tax efficient way to do so.

Will you sell for a loss? Are you sure you don’t want to rent it a while longer until the market picks up?

Or will you sell for profit? How will you limit your tax liability? Work with your financial advisor to see what would work best for you.

In the meantime, follow this advice when selling your vacation home.

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Selling your vacation rental

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Selling your vacation rental

Is the next owner an investor? How could a rental contract, especially a guaranteed rental contract, increase the sale price?

Succeed at selling your vacation home, and keep this in mind!

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Alternative exits.

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Alternative exits.

Would an alternate exit be better for your home? Remember, donations, trusts, and 1031 exchanges are always options.

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