Self-Management vs. Hiring a Property Manager

What should I do?… Should I just try to save money and do it myself? What does a property manager even do anyway?… Maybe I should try for a while myself and then go with one if it doesn’t work out… Maybe I should go with one and then try to do it myself…

I get this question ALL the time! Should I try to manage my vacation rental myself, or should I hire someone to do it for me?

What should I do?… Should I just try to save money and do it myself? What does a property manager even do anyway?… Maybe I should try for a while myself and then go with one if it doesn’t work out… Maybe I should go with one and then try to do it myself…

This blog post isn’t going to spell out how you do it yourself or to hire one (you can find this in my book Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide or in my VRA Course), but this will help you decide which direction what is right for you!

We hired a property manager for our first one since it was 1000 miles away from our home (Villa Bella Mermaid). They handled everything – pictures, marketing, communication with all guests for problems or access, coordination with the maintenance and cleaning companies, etc. We just had to keep our bills paid and property maintained, and they sent us money every month. For our second one, (Sky High Chalet) we started from scratch ourselves and managed it ourselves – everything.

 Before you choose either, I want you to think for a minute…

  1. What do you currently have on your plate with your job, family, schedule, etc?
  2. Can you be readily available for guest calls? (Bookings, requests, maintenance, and sometimes emergencies)
  3. How close do you live to your desired location?
  4. Are there VR property managers available in your desired location?
  5. Can you consistently make time to manage it?
  • Clean/schedule with cleaning company?
  • Schedule turnovers for maintenance?
  • Market it?
  • Strategically price it?
  • Network to local organizations to link your VR to

I always say – Time is Money! And if your time is worth money, can your property be promoted better if you have someone else handle the less glamorous side of owning and operating vacation rentals, or should you really be the one to manage it?

After self-managing the Chalet, I realized that for me to scale and add more, I needed to change my plan. We own and operate multiple businesses and there are only so many hours in a day. For me to really enjoy the best perks of owning VR’s I needed to work smarter, or I would hold us back with my schedule and time to be able to dedicate to it all. That is when I decided to have any future ones that I own locally be managed by the new company that I had created. We also, of course, use property managers for all other areas around the country too.

I am NOT saying to just go hire a property manager, and I am definitely not saying to start an entire company, but I am saying that it is good to be realistic with what your individual needs and availability are.

If you could have someone to do the more tedious jobs for a percentage and you get to reap all the rewards, would you? Or do you truly have the time to dedicate to this amazing endeavor 100%?

Refer to my book and course for more in-depth information on both options and please share this on social and connect with me on there, if you get a chance! Don’t ever hesitate to message me if you ever have a topic that you want more info or clarity on.


P.S. Make sure that you sign up below for future blog posts and to stay up to date on all things happening at Vacation Rental Academy. Would love to connect with you! Facebook MsChristinaVanDergrift and Instagram christinavandergrift 


You asked and I have listened!

I have received several questions about zoning/codes and how to figure out what is allowed where you want to create and operate a vacation rental.

I talked about it in my book and course more in depth from how to make an offer contingent on it, to “the why” behind it and wanted to break it down by offering some quick incite.

I will stress this till I go blue in the face – MAKE SURE that you do your due diligence before you spend a penny on buying a new property to make sure what you are allowed or not allowed to do!

How to find out if your area allows them:

  • Call twp/town/municipality that your desired area is. Normally you can find their contact info or for the specific committee on their website, or if you live in a rural area like me, in the phone book (Haha! Yes, some areas still use the phone book).
  • Find a realtor or attorney to do so that may have experience in doing this if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. A lot of times, Realtors do this for other zoning questions and would probably be more than willing to help if you are looking to buying a property in that area.
  • You can also reach out to local vacation rental property managers for this info, as they must know it to be able to manage in that area. I will be talking about how to find vacation/short-term rental property managers in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned!
  • Depending on where you are looking to create them, they may have a specific process to follow to get the proper permit etc.
  • Some areas still don’t have zoning for it so you may be able to create one without having to go through the hoops to do so.
  • Some areas may make you get a variance to create one because you may be reinventing the wheel and need special approval for your use.

And again, MAKE SURE that you do your due diligence before you spend a penny on buying a new property to make sure what you are allowed or not allowed to do! It only takes making that mistake once and then being stuck with a lot of expense, aggravation and embarrassment. 

If your desired area doesn’t allow them, you may have to look elsewhere for now. Zoning in different areas changes over time for better or worse, so don’t lose hope. You might just have to change gears and try someplace else, or even try to fight for it. Locally we have municipalities changing their zoning to attract them since some others don’t allow them currently.

Make sure you check out my course for the step-by-step process and possible outcomes. I also breakdown how to get financing, find the right Realtor, create a business plan, launch, operate etc. It’s a must-have investment for your new possible endeavor.


If They Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

Have you ever wanted to try to do something or emulate someone’s successes so that you could be successful like them, but didn’t know where to start? You dreamt up a wild, crazy idea or dream, only to get excited for a moment and then overwhelm yourself with the idea and how it may not work out. Then the fear of the “why you shouldn’t” and the uncomfortable possible outcomes flood in, and make you not do anything a moment longer…

I have been there many times throughout my life. Sometimes at the most random moments or while traveling, sometimes during work and maybe even during adversity.

Sometimes, however, this thought or dream is planted in the back of your mind and again at random times, you get reminders of it or see signs of things that make you think, “Maybe I should think about that again or try it to see where it goes.”

When these thoughts come back, that is when I tend to have the self-talk, a lot of prayer asking for wisdom and favor, and normally ask myself: “What is the worst that could happen, if I just try? If they can do it, why can’t I?”

Then, I write down the goal. Writing it down somehow makes it seem more real and less scary. I think of and write down the first few steps that it would take to get to that goal. I try not to get overwhelmed by the end result, but only focus on the first 2 steps of whatever it might be.

I had one of these moments last year, around the time of the shutdown. The world had literally shut down and I felt helpless and lacking. I was supposed to be the leader at my businesses, the teacher then to my kids, and a wife to my husband. There was so much unknown all around me, but deep down I had faith it would all work out and that we would get through it. I wasn’t sure how, or what was ahead, but I had to find some type of control in my world, a healthy outlet to get through it.

That is when I got my sign of what I needed to do… I had recently read a book that encouraged me to tell my story and write my own book so that I could help others with their lives, with my knowledge and life experience. I had never thought in my life that I would write a book, or even have the time to do it, but apparently – it was time! And why not, what did I actually have to lose – if someone else can do it, why can’t I? The book idea I had was teaching people how to buy, create and operate vacation rentals.

When I first learned about vacation rentals, I had been in real estate in a variety of roles already, from Broker/Owner of a real estate company, to landlord, entrepreneur, etc. I had one of those “moments” that planted the seed several years ago, that intrigued me about trying something new and getting into a new adventure of owning vacation rentals.

With a husband, three sons, and several businesses, there was little time to travel – let alone have a vacation home someplace to regularly visit. By chance, I had a conversation with a local gentleman that had purchased a vacation home in Florida that was much more expensive to maintain and own than originally planned. He explained to me that he had decided to have a property manager rent it out as a vacation rental so that he not only had a free vacation home, but also had basically a free place to visit and stay at that others were paying for and maintaining for him while he wasn’t there. (Insert lightbulb moment here for me – If he can do it, why can’t I?!)

Fast forward through a huge learning curve, highs and lows (and when I say lows, I mean lows)… I used it all to help educate and inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and take chances. Additionally, I explained tons of other benefits of real estate investing, even with little to no money down and one being an additional income stream.

My book is called Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide, and although it appears to be a manual of how to buy, operate and grow vacation rentals, behind the cover it is so much more!

My common threads throughout the book are:

  1. Setbacks are ok, keep going;
  2. Bumps in the road do not mean you should turn around;
  3. Life is what you make it, so make it happen! And above all:
  4. Do everything in excellence!
  5. It doesn’t matter who you are or your pedigree, you can make a name for yourself with hard work, consistency and goals.

I have included an excerpt from my book and hope that it inspires you to dream big, set the goal, make a plan and have faith that you can find the right teachers and knowledge along the way to make it happen!

Conclusion (Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide)

Ever since I went down the path of owning my own vacation rentals, I felt like I became a conduit of information and realized that it sparked so many questions and curiosity. Ultimately that is what made me realize I wanted to teach and empower others to do the same.

It is such a rewarding and profitable industry, and I know that with the right tools, you can do it too. I hope that I have helped you and allowed you to think out of the box for your future and next steps. Whether you currently have rentals that you can upsize or convert, you have a down payment to buy an existing one or create one, or maybe you want to buy one with “No Money Down” – you can, and the sky’s the limit!!! I cannot stress this enough. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Write down the goal, plan on the steps, then put in the work… anything is possible!

Short-term sacrifices lead to long-term rewards; consistency is key. I can remember being 17 years old and having to get up at 5:00am to go to my waitress job thinking, “Why the heck am I not like most other kids my age and not just sleeping in!?” But that thought would only last for a second and I would make myself get up and go. The same thing has happened many times in my adult life. I remind people regularly, including my kids, that these short-term sacrifices pay off big time – if you are consistent.

Maybe you can’t jump all in to the industry right now because of financial reasons – just start small, and don’t give up. If you’re hesitant because of nervousness or not wanting to take a chance, just visualize yourself doing it and what the outcomes could be. You may realize – how can I not do it!?

Like I said at the beginning, life is what you make it, so let’s make it happen!


My Comprehensive, Cutting-Edge Guide to Buying and Managing Vacation Rentals

Drawing from her experience as a self-made real estate broker and entrepreneur, the book serves as a comprehensive resource for all aspects of owning and operating a vacation rental, including buying, managing, dressing, pricing, and maintaining the property.

WELLSBORO, PA. — After a year of canceled vacation plans and weekends spent lounging around at home, travelers are eager to get back out in the world. As they make their summer plans, a significant amount will opt for the privacy, comfort, affordability, and unique experience of a vacation rental, adding to the growth of this highly lucrative and equitable industry and creating a window of opportunity for those looking to invest.

To help curious newcomers and traditional rental owners better understand this flourishing market, Christina VanDergrift has released “Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide: My Wealth-Creating Secrets with Little to No Money Down!.” Drawing from her experience as a self-made real estate broker and entrepreneur, the book serves as a comprehensive resource for all aspects of owning and operating a vacation rental, including buying, managing, dressing, pricing, and maintaining the property.

VanDergrift begins by taking readers through the story of her first vacation rental, humorously recounting the lessons learned along the way. Afterward, she provides digestible, concrete steps on how to get off the ground with shopping, selecting, and preparing the perfect space. Through candidly sharing her path to success, she hopes to empower readers with the message that real estate investing, particularly vacation rentals, is more attainable than it may appear.

“I started out with no formal education and a family that didn’t invest in anything,” said VanDergrift. “Investing in real estate and vacation rentals has changed our entire world and created lots of memories and long-term abundance.”

“This book made me excited to look into vacation rentals,” wrote an Amazon reviewer. “Christina’s honesty, humor, and personal experiences confirm that the process may not be easy and there will be bumps, but with hard work and determination, one can reach their financial goals.”

Educational, engaging, and easy-to-read, “Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide” demonstrates that regardless of budget, education, or experience, anyone can own, enjoy and generate wealth from a vacation rental property.

“Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide: My Wealth-Creating Secrets with Little to No Money Down!”
By Christina VanDergrift
ISBN: 9781982262105 (softcover); 9781982262129 (hardcover); 9781982262112(electronic)
Available from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Balboa Press

About the author
Christina VanDergrift understands the challenge of having big dreams but little money or experience to take the steps toward attaining them. Through her work, she strives to use her unwavering motivation and lessons learned to educate, inspire and empower people who are interested in getting into the vacation rental industry, real estate, or business in general but don’t know where or how to begin. Starting with only grit, determination, and a willingness to learn and put in the work, she is now a real estate broker and entrepreneur with multiple businesses under her belt, including a car wash, vacation rental management company, and settlement company. VanDergrift was recognized as Realtor of the Year in 2019 by the North Central Penn Board of Realtors and made Pennsylvania Business Central’s list of Top 100 People in 2020. She currently resides in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three boys.

VanDergrift has also launched her virtual Vacation Rental Academy to provide educational resources to individuals ready to take the next step in becoming vacation rental owners. For more information, please visit, orconnect with her on Facebook (@MsChristinaVanDergrift), Twitter (@CRCVanDergrift), and Instagram (@christinavandergrift).