All of us see things through our own eyes, and for the most it part serves us pretty well. That’s why we have opinions, certain beliefs . .  . all the things that go into making us unique. Which works nicely until we want to sell a product or service. Then the ability to see things through someone else’s eyes become critical. That is particularly true when renting a vacation home.

The problem, of course, is that it is important for the homeowner to see what that renter is seeing and to understand what they want from a rental property. It’s not practical, though, for an owner to spend the time and energy needed to understand the market–which is why professional property management is so critical.

Both the property management company and the homeowner want the same thing. “Our goals are the same,” Vanessa Riddick, Property Manager for Resort Realty, says. “We want to rent the home as much as we possibly can so in the end everyone is happy.”

The Outer Banks market is very competitive. Even with 95% occupancy in the summer, the best maintained homes will consistently be the first ones rented at the best price. “The main purpose of a property management firm recommending a course of action to a homeowner is so that the homeowner receives more rental income in the end,” Riddick explains. Not all of the suggestions for making a house more attractive cost all that much. Riddick points out that simple things, like updating artwork and bedspreads in the house works wonders; creating a theme for a home, or having a routine maintenance and carpet cleaning program with your property management firm keeps the house looking new and fresh. “Be sure to have a well stocked kitchen with all the accessories a guest needs to cook a big dinner. Make sure you have large pots to cook crabs,” she adds.

Take a look at your property. Does the house and yard look fresh and well-maintained. “Curb appeal is the first impression the renter gets,” Riddick notes.

If a family likes your house and keeps coming back year after year, offer them a discount. It’s a lot less expensive than finding new renters every year. Online marketing is a must. Your visitors want to know as much as possible about your house so create an interactive floor plan with professional pictures.

The furniture that’s been in the living room for 10 years? It’s got to go. If the property is not available at certain times, that must be communicated to property management. Homeowners and property management companies are working together. “This is a partnership,” Riddick says.

When, as the Property Manager for Resort Realty, Riddick suggests what to charge for renting the property, she is doing so based on her knowledge of the Outer Banks. “Not approving the property management firm’s recommended rental rates leads to discounting or not booking at all,” she says. There are real consequences for not following property management recommendations. Loss of revenue, greater marketing costs because of non repeat renters and bad reviews online making it even more difficult to rent the home. If at some point, the property owner wants to sell their house, the rental history directly effects the price of the home.

Owning a vacation rental property does take effort, but understanding what needs to be done and why, will make the effort a little more rewarding. “Homeownership requires a lot of attention and when you serve the public it requires even more special attention,” Riddick explains. “Being considerate and understanding this from both sides of the communication will optimize the relationship.”