Is Owning a Vacation Rental Right for You?

It sounds great doesn’t it? Put your second or vacation home online and have income instead of a vacant space. It sounds like a great investment but is it really?

What Is It?

A little background on Airbnb and VRBO: these are websites that allow you to place your home, or vacant rooms for rent to travelers or vacationers who would prefer to stay in a different environment than a hotel.

Why Is It Right For You?

Lewis County, is one of the areas greatest destination places. Many homes in White Pass Ski, Riffe Lake, and Lake May-field benefit from using Airbnb and VRBO to list their property because this area is full of those looking for a vacation spot.

Having your home listed on VRBO or Airbnb is a reliable form of investment if you are looking to rent your home for short periods of time. This allows you easy  access to your property for you to vacation whenever you desire.

The Pros

Financial Renting your home out for short term makes a lot of sense if you only get to go once or twice a month and the home otherwise stays empty. This means you aren’t paying payments, tax, insurance, utilities, etc. on an empty house that you’re not getting to enjoy. You are instead making money off your property that in turn pays for itself and then some.

Ease of Use Airbnb and VRBO make adding your home a breeze. Their fees are affordable and not as outrageous as using a property management agency. They also have an accountability system where both renters and owners can leave feedback. So if your home exceeded expectations they will leave you a fantastic review, or if they left your home a disaster zone you can rate them warning other owners they may want to raise their cleaning fee.

Flexibility You get to choose your guests, unlike a property management company who is in charge of filtering renters it is your call. You make all the final decisions on how and to who to rent your home. You are allowed to screen guests by asking them questions, putting limits on the number of people, pets, noise, etc. The fact that guests’ Facebook pages are linked to VRBO and Airbnb websites also helps you to gather information about your guest. Just like if you were hiring them for a job, if their photos are nothing but partying every night of the week, you may just want to pass.

New Connections Isn’t it always interesting to see what draws a person to a specific area? While you may never meet face to face (unless you’re renting a room not a house) you still have a conversation with people you never would have otherwise. While some guests may not mind being left to their own devices you can always offer to be a tour guide or give them ideas of what to do that their Google search did not say. If you really enjoy their company, go to the local coffee shop or market together. New friends are always welcome, and they’re much more likely to rent from you again as well.

Cultural Exchange If you love learning about new cultures, this is one of the best ways you to achieve that. You can find more about a culture by a conversation than all the research in the world. By hosting people from different places you are have the possibility to learn something new and enrich your view of the world.

The Cons

Taxes and Fees The only thing certain in life is death and taxes right? One of the challenges specific to Lewis county is the additional fees and taxes you as a host are left to pay. You will need to record the income for tax purposes of course, you will also need to save money for cleaning costs and potentially feeding costs as well.

Registering a Business Which really sounds more intimidating than it is, however you cannot list your home without doing so. This requires additional time and financial management, receipts, income, and expenses must be well documented and managed well.

The Burden of Managing Your Property The cost of your time to manage your property may be worth more than what it gives you in return. To keep your home up to standard you may have to add maintenance costs in, or furnish your home differently, or buy additional items renters are looking for such as a hot tub or pool table.

Damages It isn’t a matter of if it will happen but when. It is inevitable that at some point something will get damaged. Whether the toddler found a marker and decided to paint your walls or the college kids had too much to drink and flooded your second floor. Making sure you can have these damages covered by a homeowners policy is crucial for your business to be registered.


Like anything, renting your home on Airbnb or VRBO, isn’t something you should just jump into without considering the consequences. It can be a great opportunity for you to make additional income, however, it has drawbacks as well.


SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate