The booming gig economy allows us to take almost anything we own or are good at and turn it into a source of extra income.
Some of the options include driving for Uber, delivering food for Postmates or DoorDash, and moving people’s furniture through TaskRabbit.
Another excellent source of extra income can be through your own real estate!
These days, tons of people are finding success in renting their second homes (or primary homes!) through rental websites like VRBO, HomeAway or Airbnb. Tourists from all over the world forego the traditional hotel room for an authentic stay in a local’s home.
For some, the idea of letting someone into your home when you’re not there is off-putting. But most people who do it have a positive experience, and they get to make some money out of it, too.
VRBO is a service that allows you to rent your apartment to people looking to rent a place to stay during vacation.
Listing your property on the site is easy, but making good money can be tricky.
So to help you, we’ve put together a list of nine different tips that will help you maximize your rental income on VRBO.
VRBO stands for Vacation Rental By Owner. Founded in 1995 and after several acquisitions, including the most recent acquisition by HomeAway, it now has over 2 million properties listed on its site.
It works through its website and corresponding apps. Hosts list their homes on the site, and users have the opportunity to search using a wide range of filters to find the best property that fits their needs.
VRBO makes money by charging a fee to both guests and hosts. Guests pay between 6% – 12% of the price of their booking total.
However, those wishing to list their home on VRBO have a few options to use when it comes to paying to use the platform. To list your property, you must first decide if you want a subscription or if you want to pay-per-booking.
A subscription costs $499 and allows for unlimited booking, but VRBO will charge a 3% credit card/eCheck processing fee per transaction.
Pay-per-booking comes with no annual fee, but VRBO charges a 5% commission per booking on top of a 3% credit card/eCheck processing fee.
Both plans give you access to the same features, but one is designed for people who will be using the service more frequently, whereas the other is for those who wish to do short-term rentals.
Overall, getting your apartment listed on VRBO is rather simple. Just take some time to decide which plan is best for you, and then make sure to use the tips below to make some serious money.
Before we go too far into the different ways to maximize revenue from VRBO, we should take a moment to clarify the difference between VRBO and its top competitor, Airbnb.
There are three main differences between the two services, which are:
However, both services allow you to decide on your nightly rate. Also, they allow guests and users to make profiles so both parties can determine if it’s a good match.
If you have a property you would like to list on VRBO, pay attention to these tips.
When it comes to VRBO, one of the secrets to making money is choosing the right fee structure.
As mentioned earlier, you have a choice between paying $499 up front for a year’s worth of listings, or you can pay 5% in booking fees per reservation.
The $499 price tag might be a bit shocking to look at, but it all depends on how much you’re going to rent your property.
VRBO recommends choosing the yearly plan if you’re going to rent your property for more than six weeks a year. But it’s smart to do a more specific analysis.
Start by asking yourself how much you’re going to charge to rent the place. Remember that renting it also means cleaning it after one guest leaves and preparing it for the next, so be sure to account for hiring a cleaning fee between bookings.
After that, pick your nightly rental rate and multiply it by the number of nights you plan to rent out the place. This will allows you to see which plan is right for you.
For example, if you’re going to rent the property for five weeks a year at $300/night, then this is 35 nights (seven nights a week multiplied by five weeks), which comes to a total of $10,500.
If you chose pay-per-booking, then you would pay 10% of that in fees, which comes out to $525. So in this case, it would be smarter to pay for the yearly membership.
As you can see, the “six-week rule” isn’t that set in stone, and to make the most money possible on VRBO, make sure you spend time deciding which fee structure is right for you.
One surefire way to make more money on VRBO is to rent your place out more often. But a few things need to happen before you do this.
First, you need to make sure you can live without the property for more time. If this is your second home, it shouldn’t be too difficult to rent it out. But if it’s your primary residence, be sure to figure out a plan.
This might seem hard, but renting out your home will bring in some serious cash, which you can use for trips.
If you want, you can always scale back on how often you rent after a few successful seasons. This is an excellent way to both enjoy your rental property and make sure you’re getting a solid return on investment.
The second thing you need to do if you want to rent your place more often finds someone to help you manage the property.
We all like to think that we will have no problem coming in once a week to clean, change linens, restock whatever the last guests used, and address normal wear and tear issues with the rental property. But that isn’t realistic.
Even for those who live close to their vacation home, this is a lot of work. And for those who live far away, it’s even more challenging to maintain the property on your own.
Of course, hiring a property manager is going to be an expense. But if you’re able to rent your property out for ten weeks instead of five because you have some help, then you’re going to make a lot more money overall.
And why not? If the property is going unused, you might as well put it to work and have it earn you some money.
Another thing you can do to make more money off your VRBO listing is to pay attention to when demand is high and make your property more available.
Figure out when the peak season in your area is and determine when you plan on listing your place. For example, Florida is a popular destination for people who want to escape the snow in the winter.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that Florida’s peak season is October through March or April. Whereas a city like New York might keep you busy all year round with rental inquiries.
The only downside to this is that you will lose out on the opportunity to use the property during this great time, but this is something to consider when renting on VRBO.
One thing you could do is reserve one week or weekend at the beginning or end of the season. This way you could still enjoy the property when it’s nice without missing out on the prime months for rental properties.
Building on this idea, a good strategy for making more money on VRBO is to take more control over the pricing of your property.
VRBO will offer you suggestions based on what other properties in the area are charging, but we recommend doing what’s best for your property and schedule.
You should always raise prices during peak parts of the year. To get an idea of what you can charge, take a look at hotel rates in your area. Then set your property for just a little bit less.
Doing this will help ensure your property is rented, but it will also guarantee that you’re getting as much as you can.
Another thing to do is to pay attention to local events. If there is a concert or convention in town, know that there will be more demand for housing, and this will allow you to charge higher prices.
Again, spend some time researching what others are asking for similar properties, and also look at what alternatives people have so that you can offer profitable but competitive prices.
Although you won’t be there, potential guests are still going to want to know who they are renting from.
It doesn’t matter how comfortable we get with sharing; people will naturally feel strange staying at someone’s home without the owner present.
However, you have the power to change this feeling by creating an outstanding profile.
This is the page on VRBO that potential guests will see associated with your profile.
Use this space to introduce yourself and your home. Talk about why you like the property and the town, and let people know more about who you are.
Wherever possible, include a nice photo of you, and whoever else lives on the property, as this will help people take their guard down, which will make them more likely to want to choose your listing over another one.
Play Up the Nice Parts of Your Home…and Use Pictures
When a guest logs into VRBO, they are going to have many choices. So to make sure they choose you more often, as this is how you will make more money, it’s important you do all you can to highlight what makes your property special.
If it has some unique features, such as a pool, beach access, free bike rentals, etc., make sure this is prominently featured in your profile.
You may even want to include it in the title, as this is an excellent way to catch people’s attention and encourage them to click onto your listing to learn more.
Photos are also essential for this.
Make sure to take pictures that present your property in the best way possible.
For example, make sure photos are well-lit and high-quality. Before you take the pictures, make sure every room is tidy and clean.
This will help make your home more inviting, which should drive up demand for your property.
Ultimately, the way to make money on VRBO is to make your property highly-desirable. And one of the ways to do this is to make sure people leave positive reviews about you.
Make sure you’re doing everything possible to not only satisfy guests but to delight anyone who comes to stay at your property.
Start by making sure the property is spotless when people come in. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a service. It will be worth it.
Then, think about what someone coming to stay at your house might need. Bedding and linens are standard, so imagine what else you could do.
If your house is near the beach, maybe make some beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, toys, games, etc. available for people to use.
Consider creating a list of some things to do in the area. Travelers are always looking for ways to enjoy the cities they visit, so point them in the direction of some great places.
Leave maps, subway passes, direction to popular places, instructions about how to use things in the house, and your contact information.
But lastly, listen to what people say. If someone stays at your place, ask them if there were anything they’d wished they’d had while at the property.
This will allow you to add to things to make your place a more desirable place to stay.
Reviews are a great way to get more guests. If someone is deciding between two properties that offer similar things and that cost roughly the same amount, you can be sure that they’ll choose the one with better reviews.
However, guests can sometimes be shy when it comes to leaving reviews, so take the initiative and do it yourself.
Most often, if you leave a review for a guest, then they will do the same thing, and this will allow you to build your VRBO reputation and get more guests.
Another way to make more money is to avoid having to spend money.
We’d all like to believe that we’re only renting out to quiet families and romantic couples, but bachelor and bachelorette parties, frat and sorority parties, and spring break are also common.
As a result, make sure you spend some time checking out your guests. Ask them who else will be staying there, and go through all the reviews on their profile.
If possible, try to be there when they show up, as this will help you detect any funny business. If you can’t, then send someone you trust to do the same thing.
We naturally want to trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt, but this might not be the best move with your vacation home.
Although it’s rare on VRBO, know that it doesn’t take much for a fun get-together to turn into a wild party. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before opening up your home to other people.
Lastly, if you want bookings, then you need to give people the peace of mind that their reservation is secure.
For guests, there’s nothing worse than reserving a property only to find out the week before your trip that it’s no longer available.
Guests will tear you apart for doing this through reviews, detailing what a horror story it was to deal with you as a host. A review like this will undoubtedly will hurt your chances of securing more bookings later on.
The only way to avoid this is only to list your property when you are 100% sure you’d like to rent it during that time.
If you like having the property available to you for spontaneous trips, then you’re going to have to settle for fewer bookings with VRBO.
You can always list the property last minute if you decide you won’t be around, and it’s much better to do this than to list it as available and cancel on people.
Doing this will make it somewhat difficult to make any money at all on VRBO. However, there are times when canceling is essential — like if there is an issue with the rental site or inclement weather.
Just remember that canceling on people for no good reason is most certainly a bad idea and should be avoided whenever possible. Make sure your cancellation policy is current and that it’s clear to potential guests.
VRBO is a great way to make sure your property is used when you’re not there and also to make a little extra cash. Getting started is easy, but becoming a pro requires some work.
Whether you plan on renting your home for most of the year or as a short-term rental, all hosts can benefit from these tips.
Follow the steps mentioned here, though, and you’ll soon be raking in extra rental income with your VRBO property.