Many people cringe when I tell them that the normal split when working with a property management company is 60/40. That is 60% of the unit's gross income to you and 40% to the company that you are using. Then, throw in all the additional cost, fees, etc that you may be charged and you are actually closer to 50/50. Don't get me wrong, this is a business and they are providing a service. You do not have to lift a finger. Some people are completely fine with this scenario. Some aren't. You have to decide what level of effort you are willing to invest and how much money you need/want to keep from your investment.
Local Or Not, VRBO Is Great For Your Cabin
The first mistake that many people make when considering how to manage their log cabin is ruling out VRBO as an option. The fact that you are out of state or live on the other side of the state is really not that big of a deal. It can be easily managed from just about anywhere with the right resources and relationships. The 2 most important relationships that you need to cultivate are 1) Finding a good cleaning company/person, and 2) finding a good maintenance man to respond to service calls locally. Your initial thought is going to be, "But I do not know anyone in the area. I would just be picking someone out of thin air." That is where you rely on your Realtor. A good Realtor is going to be able to explain the pros and cons of using VRBO or a full blown management company. He/she should also be able to give you some options for cleaning companies and service companies that are reputable in the area.
What Does VRBO Cost?
VRBO has a number of options with varying cost. All levels of membership are going to do well for you but the top 2 levels (Gold and Platinum) are going to give your log cabin the most exposure. You can see the pricing tiers in the image below:
Using VRBO along with HomeAway (booking calendar) is going to require a little work on your part. And by work I mean responding to emails from potential renters in a timely manner, handling the check-in (also done via email or over the phone), coordinating check-outs with the cleaning crew, and fielding phone calls from renters with service issues. It may sound daunting or intimidating to some, but it really isn't too bad at all.
Your Log Cabin Needs To Stand Out From The Rest
One of the best things you can invest in when using VRBO is professional photos. It will increase your bookings dramatically, providing your unit is not old and outdated. Even great pictures can't fix that. If you invest the money to have your unit featured at the Gold or Platinum level it is going to get the exposure. The photos are going to separate your unit from the rest. Look at the pictures below. The top row are professionally done. The lighting, angle, editing, and size have all been adjusted. They are typically taken in what is called RAW format as opposed to JPEG or PNG. RAW is the raw file of the photo that allows for much more control in editing the file. The bottom row are just personal photos. They lack proper lighting, angle, aspect ratio, etc.
While there is nothing wrong with any of the units shown in the pictures, it is all about catching the eye of the consumer. Which ones would you choose? For more information on Professional Photography for your unit you can contact Dean Brown through his website http://www.magazinequality.com/index.htm
Of course there are going to be other things that arise that will cost money to address and there is no way to determine what those things will be until you are faced with them, but those things are going to happen regardless of using a management firm or VRBO. It all comes down to ROI. Like I said above, some people do not want to deal with their units at all and are completely content with forking over up to 50% of there gross profits. If that doesn't sit well with you then you strongly need to consider using VRBO. Logistics is just a detail. Don't let it be an expensive one. Before I end this article let me offer you some perspective. If your log cabin is going to gross $50,000 in the next 12 months, do you want to keep just $25,000 of that or would you rather keep upwards $45,000? The difference is just a small amount of effort.