This guide is for the Block Island homeowner who wishes to rent their own home. On Block Island, any one who wishes to rent their home as a Block Island vacation rental has three options in no particular order:
Based upon my experience in all three options, read on to find out the best option for you.
- Are you a Block Island homeowner running a vacation rental as a business or as a way to supplement or cover your mortgage, keep up on maintenance, cover upgrades? (or some combination of all?)
- How much rental income would you like to make?
- How much do you use the house? Which weeks would be blocked out as "homeowner weeks?"
- Do you live on or off island? How available are you to check on your house?
Exploring Option One: Using a realtor means that you the Block Island homeowner would hire one of the island's eight agencies to rent and manage your house for you. They market your vacation house by listing it on their website. They make their commission by taking a percentage of the dollar amount that your house rents for. This is deducted from the amount the renter sends in and the rest is sent to you. The percentage they take is usually 15% but can range from 10% to 25%.
Depending on what sort of deal you have with the realtor, you may contract additional services such as house watches and maintenance, staging your house for renting to the public, opening and closing the house for the season, etc.
This option is for some one who wishes to rent their home but does not have any time to manage bookings or very little time to look after their house.
Exploring Option Two: Using an online listing website to rent your Block Island vacation house gives you much more control over your home as well as the rental income.
These websites are very well setup, marketing your home is simple and the best part: all the commission goes to you. For the $85-$250 you'll spend per year listing on one or more of these sites, the thousands of dollars you'll save from paying a rental agent can go in your pocket.
You will handle incoming inquiries and set up a simple system to handle the bookings. Websites such as Vacation Rentals By Owner or HomeAway Vacation Rentals have systems already in place, all you do is plug in the information. You will hire your own cleaners and maintenance people.
If you are willing to put in a few hours a week to do your own bookings, this is the option that I recommend. Your house is marketed better, more visible to the world, more money goes in your pocket and you maintain your own home rather than trust it to some one who has 30-40 other homes to manage.
Exploring Option Three: This option incorporates both One & Two and works well for giving your home more exposure hence yielding more bookings. The realtor lists your vacation house on their website only. Depending on how good they are at marketing their office and website and depending on how they decide to present your house to the public is how you get your bookings. The realtor's phone rings and they try to match people with houses and fill as many weeks as possible. You may add to this by marketing your own house online and funneling the inquiries to the realtor or working with the realtor in whatever way you set up.
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