Skift Take

Long-term rentals to property managers are yet another iteration in the vacation rental industry made possible by online platforms. The startup's current grassroots efforts will lead the way to greater expansion in the U.S. and abroad.

Vacation rental websites like HomeAway, VRBO, and Dwellable make it easier than ever to skip professional managers and rent properties directly to the public.

But with that freedom also comes the responsibility of vetting renters, collecting payments, cleaning, and preparing the house for guests.

A new platform wants to change that by letting homeowners sell the weeks or months that they’re not using their second home to professional vacation rental managers.

Vacation Futures, which launched in 2013, currently has 55 property management companies and 295 properties on the site. The U.S. startup recently closed a $200,500 seed round bringing the company’s total funding to right under $600,000.

How It Works

Homeowners can sign up on the site for free. Once they list their home, managers have one week to place a bid on the listing. If chosen, the manager has 24 hours to pay Vacation Futures $2,500 for their due diligence on the property.

If the property is what the homeowners represents online, both parties will have seven days to close the deal before it opens back up for bidding.

“The biggest benefit for us as a manager is the management flexibility,” says Michael Harrington, CEO of Outer Banks’ Resort Realty and vice president of the Vacation Rental Managers Association. Harrington just closed his first deal on the site.

“Under the current set up, we have a contract but the homeowner is driving the bus. If we have a week when we want to reduce the rate by $500, but the homeowner refuses, then the rental might stay empty. In this scenario, I’m driving the bus. I can manipulate those rates daily to increase the bottom line.”

European Expansion

Co-founders Andrew McConnell and Mickey Kropf also recently announced that Simon Lehmann, the former CEO of Interhome and current HomeAway board member, joined their advisory board. With Lehmann, comes a new focus on expanding in Europe where these types of transactions are already taking place.

“All real estate is local is a cliche out there but that’s the case for vacation rentals,” says co-founder and head of sales Mickey Kropf. “So one manager might have a stronghold within one development within one submarket but they can’t seem to crack into the next one. We’re a means for them to do that.”


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Tags: startups, vacation rentals

Photo credit: A family beach house in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Jeff Kubina / Flickr

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