Reply to Annie
Thanks for joining the thread. It is interesting to hear other opinions even if I don't share the smae view.
I am curious about the violations you mentioned. I suspect, although I may be assuming too much, that the major one you were counting was the violation of an oppressive code that only realtors or management companies can rent a vacation home. These ordinances are usually pushed through by realtors and companies seeking to monopolize vacation rentals in an area. They falsely sight as their reasoning that owners will not offer a safe, clean, product and don't have the staff or expertise to manage a property properly. They also unfairly state that owners will not pay the town, county and state taxes. Before you know it the town passes an ordinance prevents the owner from renting out his own property.
I am very grateful my property does not reside in such a town.
I am curious about the violation on minimum length of stays. Could you elaborate on the town's requirement that was violated in your sampling.
Having started this thread so many moons ago, I wanted to give you all an update on what has happened to the Homeaway realtor listings for my beach community. Very odd - they have disappeared! We originally had about 25-30 homeowners who listed and then we ballooned to 180+ when a local agency listed many of their properties in our town, Now we are down to 24 again - and it has been like this for a few weeks. Not sure if this means that the realtor's participation in Homeaway was not successful or if it is a blip in the system and they will soon reappear. If it is the former, then I think it speaks to the point many have made in this thread that homeowner managed listings and handling of inquiries tends to be stronger than those of the realtors. If it is the latter, then I will report back. Or maybe they just got a better deal elsewhere... I just find it interesting and wish I had a contact there who could tell me the story.
"These ordinances are usually pushed through by realtors and companies seeking to monopolize vacation rentals in an area."
I know that this happens in some areas, and perhaps it happens more in areas where there are big agency management companies. But I wanted to say that I've had the opportunity to work with both owner-managed and agency-managed vacation rentals, and I have found that folks who run agencies are often just as offended by some of the ordinances that communities try to pass as those folks that manage their own homes are.
Some people in the agency-management community make a lot of sweeping generalizations about problems with owner-managed vacation rentals. Your posting cites some common examples. Those of us who manage our own vacation rentals should not be making sweeping generalizations too!
Those working in agencies and those who manage their own vacation rentals have a lot of common interests and issues.
There are a couple clarifications needed here, Frank.
First, the oppressive code you refer to in your post does not exempt realtors. In fact…professional managers may be more likely to comply with the ordinance. As licensed agents…we not only risk a fine personally, as any illegally renting entity does, be it private homeowner or agent, but as an agent, we also have to consider our company may be fined, and possible sanctions against a license, there most certainly will be a fine to the client that owns the property not to mention the public embarrassment of having the story splashed all over the papers. Were that to happen, our credibility of a professional management company would be nil.
Secondly, let me state unequivocally, I have the ultimate respect for private homeowners that manage their own rental properties…by the book. It requires a tremendous amount of time and ongoing effort…and it’s especially difficult for an absentee owner…that’s why I have a job. While I did state that some homeowners do not pay the appropriate taxes…the keyword here is ‘some’. I don’t believe in ‘agent’ against ‘homeowner’…anyone who operates outside the rules and regulations affect all of us who work tirelessly to do things right.
You asked me to elaborate on the ordinance relating to the minimum stay requirement. The Monroe County Florida rental ordinance was passed in 1997 and pertains to properties in unincorporated Monroe County with a residential zoning designation. The push for rental restrictions was spearheaded by a handful of retired, full-time residents in the Lower Keys, specifically Cudjoe Key, dating back to 1992. The position these homeowners took was their homes were located in residential neighborhoods…not zoned for tourist activities…and these vacation rental homes should be considered a commercial enterprise and therefore banned. Weekly renters were portrayed as loud, inconsiderate drunkards that were ruining the quality of life for the ‘locals’. After years of attending every county commission meeting, holding up their signs about the denigration of the Keys neighborhoods due to vacation rentals…the ordinance was passed. I believe it passed quite simply because the absentee homeowners that were objecting did not have voting rights in Monroe County…those that were pushing for it, did. And, politicians being politicians…they went with the voters, even though they were not the majority of people responding.
Our county should not be surprised by the number of rentals advertised that violate the ordinance. Code enforcement does not aggressively seek out these illegal rentals unless someone makes a specific complaint…they simply don’t have the manpower to police and prosecute them all.
This thread pertains to homeowners fighting back against realtors advertising on VRBO specifically. I think we got away from that point a bit so I am going to close this out.
Tropic Homes & Barefeet Rentals
Key Largo, Florida
If I had to take a guess…it could be that the discount to agencies to advertise a block of properties is relatively small compared to an individual homeowner…like only $30. If these folks were advertising 100 properties…wow…that would put a pretty good dent in an advertising budget for just one site. Keep in mind also…each individual property has to have their calendars updated manually for every booking. That sounds like a full-time job for someone right there.
And, there are a couple equally good producing websites out there for a lot less money now.
"Agents" and "Promoters" pretend to act as service providers to owners but they obviously really dream of becoming mere commissioners one day if they ever get the chance. Less work for the same or more money.
Sooner or later, if conditions for direct marketing are reduced, they will be eating transaction value both from owner and renter with no obvious advantage to either.
Concentration of rentals sites is therefore no good news, as there is a risk of them being easily corrupted by these intermediaries granting them marketing advantages (better prices, better visibility, etc.)
Of course their main argument is that they increase competition, but for this to be true in the long term if owners are not excluded from the market, and two conditions must apply:
- advertisers are not discriminated by dominant rental sites
- intermediates act fairly
I worry that:
- continuous concentration of marketing channels which will be favouring intermediaries
- intermediates will insist using strategies which are unethical and lead to unfair competition (promoting fictious properties to sell real ones and be non transparent on prices until they grab the customer, for example)
This is so true, that VRBO (and Homeaway, for that matter, has become saturated withAGENTS, with big companies, posing as owners. VRBO has abandoned it's roots as a "rental BY OWNER" site, which is deceptive to consumers. Some of my potential guests ask me if I am really the owner, or, just an agent for a big company. They report that, often, the person who contacts them, following an inquiry, doesn't even know they came from VRBO and just deal with them as booking agents of the company. Often, when some issue can't be resolved, they offer other properties, no owned by the same person or entity as the one the inquirer sought information for.
More and more of my business comes from referrals, repeats and my own web-site, which I do not link to VRBO or HA, so, I am weaning myself of the ever higher cost and devious means to make us little guys compete with each other for attention. The original model of seniority is long gone when a new subscriber can bet my years with a $30 extra fee, which I, then, have to match, (maybe multiple times), just to tread water.
The big pitch is always "just one more listing will pay the fee!", well, no longer, and, don't be taken in, their fee comes right out of your profit, not from you gross. They aren't taking a small portion of your gross, they are taking a huge chunk of the annual profit, of smaller, and particularly, lower value, properties.
Here's a number sent to me by VRBO in response to an email in October of 2010:
"We try to cater to "by owner" properties, and about 85% of our ads are, but this varies in different markets. We believe that many renters prefer "by owner" because not only does it give them a great price because the owners may have lower overheads, but there is also the owners' knowledge of the property and location. On the other hand, property owners also have the ability to offer the little touches that make "by owner" properties extra special. While travelers may enjoy dealing with for-rent-by-owner properties, they still much prefer the wider choice of listings that is offered when property managers are allowed on the site."
85% of the listings are by OWNERS???!!!! Just do a search ANYWHERE in the country and I defy you to find any area that is 85% owner managed.
I suspect VRBO and HA would hide behind the FACT that many, if not most, of agents and management companies do not state their status when they sign up, so, VRBO and HA can claim most agent represented properties as "owner" properties, because, "we don't know any different", as they might say.
There is nothing in the process of agreeing to pay VRBO and HA money that calls for such disclosure, let a alone insures it.
I just noticed today that VRBO has allowed the Casa del Mar Rental Management company to advertise on their site right along with mine.
Here I was reviewing everyone's pricing and low and behold they have a listing. Correct me if I am wrong - how is it fair for them to allow a listing representing 120 units for the same cost as I list my ONE (1) unit? It shows a picture of all of their staff, the front office, the maids EVERYTHING!
I am really angry about this.
If they are going to allow management companies of that magnitude to advertise for the area they need to be in a separate section indicating that is a managed multi-unit property and charge them accordingly for the number of units.
What a deal for managed properties!!!!!
AMEN!!! Sick of this.....premium dollars paid by actual owners and a management co does multiple marketing for all their units for the same price. Really, what a deal! So many compaines do this in the area of the Great Smoky Mountains. If you want to start a mangement company you take at least 3 properties, put them on VRBO or Homeaway and you are ensured to get traffic and bookings. Why wouldn't they list them all........because they can and they will. That is why you find a gas station that has cabin rentals......anyone can do it and manipulate the opportunisic websites!!! Billybob down the street has a management company while he sells chinsaw carvings.Sick of it!
I am French speaking Belgian so please be indulgent with my poor english.
I want to share my own experience in Europe. My husband is advertising our apartment in Brussels on VRBO. Since this month the website is overflowed by "property managers" which are in fact rental agencies.Those agencies do not manage the apartments and are not even located in Brussels. They do not make the check in/check out, they do not manage the cleaning nor the maintenance, they just charge a commission. One of them mentions a phone number in the United States which does’nt answer in the afternooon as it is directly connected to their office in Europe which is closed after 6 PM local time.
I find it rather strange that a website of vacation rentals by owners advertise properties which are not by owners.
It is a pity because VRBO clients choose VRBO in order to get a personal contact with the owners. Now they cannot have any contact nor get any precise and personal information about the properties and surroundings.
My husband suggested VRBO to indicate more clearly that those properties are not from owners or to remove those properties which do not correspond to the definition of VRBO. But until now, after 48hours he still gets no answer.
It heard this situation is a consequence of the acquisition of VRBO by Homeaway. Maybe. In any case, there is a space on the market for a new VRBO : RVRBO i.e. Real Rental Vacation Rentals by Owners
So please if you heard about this new VRBO, tell us and we will move!
I was actually suprised to see after scrolling down to the very bottom of our area of VR that in addition to individual owners and property managers (who I suppose are working in conjunction with ind. owners) there are now "sponsored links" which you can hit and get to rental agencies. Disappointed....but I guess not surprised...