5 Reasons to Rent Through a Professional Property Manager


Welcome to our blog and thanks for stopping by. You’re probably here to read about the pros and cons of renting your vacation rental home through a professional property manager vs. big online marketplaces. If that’s your intention – you’re in for a treat! If it’s not, you may want to stick around for a quick refresher course on how adding a middleman means adding extra costs and potential frustration.

Let me preface this list by telling you I’m not here to bash monstrous vacation rental marketplace websites with a combined net worth greater than the government of a well-developed country.  That is neither my intention nor a wise decision in any regard.  This list is simply here to outline the many benefits to consumers when they make the well informed and educated decision to rent directly through the service provider located in their vacation destination.

Make sense?  Cool.  Let’s jump right in!

1) #RentLocal

Oh boy, there it is.  Starting off the list with a tug of the heart strings and a side order of reality.  Let’s face it, when you are renting a vacation home in a particular destination (say the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina) there are inherent benefits when you transact with a company located there.  The first thing that jumps to my mind is “local” knowledge and a deep understanding of the area.  Anyone can sit on a computer 2,000 miles away from your destination and read the bullet points off a Wikipedia page…. but that’s neither satisfying nor enriching on any level.  The online concierge or customer care representative at XYZ online-vacation-mega-deals website can tell you about the highly rated restaurants on TripAdvisor, but I’d prefer getting the inside scoop from locals on the “must trys” at the local taco bar or steakhouse, and hear about what my vacation would be incomplete without!  

You are also (undoubtedly) providing greater impact to the local economy when you deal directly with the managing company.  Thanks to the advent of the internet and reservation software, booking your vacation directly through the local provider is very simple.  There’s also the extremely satisfying feeling you get with real world business relationships you’d be missing out on by shopping the big vacation resellers’ websites.  We love our guests here at Southern Shores Realty, and it’s a pleasure to show them how much they are valued and to see returning faces each year.

2) Ease of Use

These numbers don't look right


Booking your vacation is supposed to be stress-free and easy!  One of the main selling points online vacation rental marketplaces use in their advertising is the “ease of use” their websites offer.  They tout their “exclusive homes”, “accurate information”, etc.  All aboard the rebuttal express!  Allow me to let you in on a secret that’s not so secret.  Our industry is not using a white board and dry erase marker to write down your reservations anymore.  Many professional property management companies invest tens of thousands of dollars into their websites and physical operations each year to ensure continual improvement and user-friendliness.  For highly competitive destinations like the Outer Banks, it’s not unreasonable for that figure to be much higher.  What does this mean?  Basically, you’re going to have a very easy time booking your vacation rental with the property managers so you shouldn’t think that it’s going to be a hassle.

In regards to accurate information and exclusivity, these marketplace websites will accept most properties from any company whose check clears… and the “accurate information” is, in most cases, outdated and scraped right off the management company’s webpage.  There are some marketplaces that interface with reservation software to provide more up-to-date data, but there are still dozens of ways for data inaccuracies to occur, causing frustrations for both the consumer and the management company.

3) Price



You knew we’d arrive here!  Before we go any further, you should be aware that there are some vacation rental marketplaces that are built on a “price discovery” model.  What does this mean?  In essence it means you, the consumer, sort by price to book your deal and then walk away with a smile.  Sounds pretty nice, right?  Tell me how this tastes: the price discovery modeled marketplaces we’ve been approached by want to tack on an additional 10% to our advertised rate and charge you that extra for their profit.  Besides that whack on the wallet, they sometimes charge fees that the property management company normally does not… often billed as “concierge fees” or “add-on fees.”   Tastes a little bit sour compared to first go…. kind of like a Lemonhead candy.

Last but not least, by the nature of the beast, increased advertising costs threaten to increase rental rates. Nearly all of the major online vacation rental marketplaces are comprised of professionally managed properties.  These are all (in a sense) paid advertisements.  When these marketplaces grow in popularity, the demand to be represented there grows and it ends up as a burden to the property management company.  While you’d think property managers are advertising here out of choice, often times it’s out of force.  Let me paint the picture: if 40% of the property managers in a particular destination pay to be on a marketplace website, the actual homeowners in the remaining 60% of the rental programs are going to start demanding their property manager pay for the same service.  It creates a snowballing dependency on these paid services and ultimately stresses the relationship between homeowner and manager.  Advertising costs then rise significantly for the property managers and this turns into rates increases for you, the guest.  Are you still thinking about shopping the big websites?

In the news:

Renting a vacation home online? 3 players add fees
Lawsuit: New fees from Austin-based HomeAway are ‘bait and switch’
New HomeAway, VRBO fee sends irate customers through the roof
Consumer Affairs Newest VRBO complaints

4) Maintenance & Housekeeping

Maid making bed in hotel room smiling


An alternative to a professionally managed vacation rental property is one that is offered, maintained, and marketed by the actual homeowner.  Booking a vacation rental directly from the owner has many perceived benefits, including but not limited to: price haggling.  Long list indeed!  I won’t question the method, madness, or success rates of attempting to negotiate vacation rental rates with a homeowner.  I’m a die hard deal shopper myself, but there’s a time and place for everything. One thing I’d rather not skimp on to save a few bucks is a stress-free vacation.

Let’s reflect back to our headline.  Do you know if your rental will be cleaned properly before your arrival?  Will it be cleaned at all?  Who should you call in case of maintenance emergency?  Who’s going to handle that maintenance emergency?  How trustworthy, helpful, and timely is the sole person you can call for any of these needs?  Sound appealing?  I’ll pass on price haggling and sleep well on my vacation.

When you book your vacation through a property management company you are purchasing a worry-free experience with a dedicated housekeeping and maintenance staff who are at your service.  Southern Shores Realty for example, offers a 24/7 maintenance hotline so you always have someone to talk to should an emergency occur.

5) Communication

Stressful work


Last but not least is communication.  Communication is vital in anything, especially a family vacation that is miles and miles away from home.  Sometimes when you book through a mega marketplace, you correspond with their representatives who then in-turn, get ahold of the property management company and then get back to you.  This is an unnecessary chain of events and it only adds time until you get assistance.

A second point to speak on about communication is electronic communication… namely email.  When you submit a request for information on most marketplace websites you are all but guaranteed a plethora of marketing emails from them.  This is in addition to the responses you’ll receive from the actual property management company.  You’ll get emails until your computer starts emitting smoke and won’t load your inbox anymore.  The volume is insane, but the more traffic they can drive equates to more money they can charge the management company.

Hopefully by now you’ll have a basic understanding of how online vacation marketplaces where professional property managers compete against each other is bad for everyone involved except for the marketplace itself.  You’ll end up paying more money than you should, to people who don’t even live there, only to stress yourself out in the process, have limited assistance during your trip, and get walloped with emails before/during/after your stay…. sounds horrifying to me.

Do yourself a favor, when you search for your next vacation rental home for your upcoming trip, take a look at rental companies in the area you’re staying.  They all should have websites.  They all should be knowledgeable.  They all should go above and beyond to exceed your expectations and provide you an affordable price for a quality vacation stay.  If they don’t, visit www.SouthernShores.com because we do!  Thanks for reading, sharing is always welcome.

Hurricane Joaquin OBX Update

Hello all.  Below is some footage of Hurricane Joaquin making his pass by the Outer Banks.  While he was quite far away, the effects are coupling with other storm systems and a pre-existing, saturated OBX.  The fragile stretch of highway 12 in Kitty Hawk by the Black Pelican was weakened by a strong Nor’ Easter earlier last week and finally gave in to the high tide yesterday.

Outer Banks Beach Report | August 28, 2015

It’s Friday on the Outer Banks – that’s a good thing!  Here are the sights and sounds from Kitty Hawk, NC.  The wind is coming strong around 10-15mph out of the NE, so that means plenty of warmth in the water but it’s looking pretty choppy.  The good news: no rain in sight!  There’s plenty to do as well this weekend if you’re looking for off the beach activities. Enjoy!


10 Things to do While Waiting to Check-in


There are so many great things to do on the Outer Banks while waiting for your house to be ready. Such as…

  1. Set up a canopy and grab a cooler to hang out on the beach in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head for the day.  (This way you can stay out of the stress of traffic and still have fun).
  2. Grab a bite to eat if you get here early at some of the most popular breakfast restaurants.  Our guests are eligible for big discounts at some!
  3. Fly kites on Jockey’s Ridge at milepost 12 in Nags Head.
  4. Make your way to Duck to do some shopping and sight-seeing at the boardwalk. Grab visitors guides, coupon books, and restaurant guides to really add to your first day experience.
  5. You can rent bikes and strollers to enjoy the nature trails that run through Duck and Corolla.
  6. If you would prefer to relax and not do a lot of walking around, set up on the pier with a fishing pole and a cooler.
  7. Set up an appointment to have pictures taken of you and your party out on the beach.. or try an old time photo!
  8. Rent jet skis, visit the aquarium, play laser tag, mini-golf, or make your way to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands and have a fun ride on the ferry.
  9. Visit the lighthouses which are in Corolla, South Nags Head, Hatteras, and Ocracoke.
  10. The movie theater does matinee showings if you would prefer to be somewhere a little bit cooler.
  11. (bonus) Set up an adventure with the wild horse tours in Corolla (something for everyone to enjoy)!

As you can see, you can still enjoy your day while waiting for your home to be ready. At Southern Shores Realty, we want you to get the most out of your vacation. Please feel free to call our office when you arrive to leave your name and number with us. If the home becomes available before the normal 4 to 5 p.m. check in time , then we will give you a call. We look forward to your vacation!

Family Fun on the Outer Banks, Then and Now

Back in the day, the Outer Banks had plenty of entertaining places that any family could visit. There were six popular places that many people remember, and it’s sad to say they are extinct. As a kid, I remember only a few and it was mostly on our way to Rodanthe we would drive by them. I begged my mom to stop at one park in particular and she always said we would stop on the way back. It never happened because I was always asleep on the way back.

These places may be absent today, however, other establishments have made it to the Outer Banks. I would like to share with you the hippest places from past to present located on this beach. Whichever generation you fall under, take a step back in time and reminisce, or go check out the current attractions offered here. So let the flashbacks, or flash forwards begin!

The Extinct Places

Diamond Shoals Family Fun Park, Kill Devil Hills – This water park had three spiral water slides and batting cages. When the park closed, the workers would do their routine clean ups and stay after hours to ride the slides themselves.

Photo taken by Katie Fertal
Photo taken by Katie Fertal

Dowdy’s Amusement Park, Nags Head – This amusement park offered a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, a few kiddie rides, and go-karts. It lit up at night with the sounds of the rides that made sure it got your attention.


Photo taken by Martin Tiller Photography
Photo taken by Martin Tiller Photography

Footsball Palace, Nags Head – Many tokens were spent by bowlers, pool players, and pinball players.  Locals would say that this was the main hangout and meeting place.  The largest pinball “Hercules” was also played here.


Photo taken by Walter Gresham Photography
Photo taken by Walter Gresham Photography

Jockey’s Ridge Mini Golf, Nags Head – There is buried treasure underneath the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge. It amazes me that the shift of sand covered such a small happening mini golf spot. Will the wind ever uncover this gem again?


Photo taken by Walter Gresham Photography
Photo taken by Walter Gresham Photography

Surf Slide, Nags Head – A giant hill with four slides… You just had to make sure you stayed on the matts. I heard the slide was a blast but also a knee or elbow scraper. A walk up the hill and a fast slide down and you were cooling off in the kiddie pool.


Photo taken by Marc Feldstein
Photo taken by Marc Feldstein

Wet N’ Wild Bumper Boats, Kill Devil Hills – Originally, it was Barney’s Concrete Curl skate park then it was turned into Wet N’ Wild Bumper Boats. It often switched back and forth depending on the season. This was fun running into each other and making splashes.


Photo taken by Karen Haley
Photo taken by Karen Haley

The Nowaday Places

First Flight Adventure Park, Nags Head – Climb obstacle challenges and if you finish then you can zipline down. If you need a break then hang there check out the view of the sound. This is a full work out if you finish the whole course.


Photo taken by Karen Haley
Photo taken by Karen Haley

Gearworks Laser Tag, Nags Head – Laser tag anyone? What a great time to team up with friends and play against the opposite team. You can play the sniper or be the foot soldier in this course.


Photo taken by OBX Gearworks
Photo taken by OBX Gearworks

Lost Treasure Golf, Kill Devil Hills – Come play putt putt or take a ride in train. This place is huge so don’t get lost. They have a giant pirate ship and waterfalls too.


Photo taken by Crystal Polston
Photo taken by Crystal Polston

Outer Banks Paintball, Powells Point – Head over the Wright Memorial Bridge and you’ll find this gem about 10 minutes down the road on the right. Paintball is a lot of fun especially in the woods. Bring a gang of people and prepare to go to paintball war. Just keep an eye out for Big Foot!


Photo taken by Outer Banks Paintball
Photo taken by Outer Banks Paintball

Paradise Fun Park, Kill Devil Hills – This place has electric go-karts, bumper cars, putt putt, arcade games, and bungee trampoline. You will never get bored here.


Photo taken by Crystal Polston
Photo taken by Crystal Polston

Many of you have experienced the excitement and have great memories of these areas. If you have any good stories about them then please share in the comments below. If some of you never been to any of the present ones then you must check them out. Don’t forget that there are other places here that I have not mentioned so please go explore. There is always fun here on the Outer Banks!  You just got to find it and create your own memory with your family.