Vacasa Eyes Urban Short-Term Rental Market

The Portland, Ore.-based vacation rental management company is expanding into the multifamily market, seeking to fill the demand for urban short-term rentals and provide stable revenue for apartment property managers.
Vacasa multifamily property in Chicago

Tapping into the growing demand for short-term rentals in urban areas, Vacasa—the largest vacation rental management company in North America—is expanding its property management services into the multifamily market with Vacasa Multifamily, targeting developers and property managers who want to convert vacant units into stable revenue.

“We’re excited to bring our decade-long property management experience to the multifamily space and offer diverse inventory for business and leisure travelers, as well as families looking to stay in urban destinations,” Joshua Viner, senior manager of Vacasa Multifamily, said in a prepared statement.

Vacasa Multifamily enters into long-term lease agreements with building owners and property managers who are seeking a professional entity to handle all aspects of managing short-term rentals including keeping up with the changing regulations for the short-term stay industry. The company targets both stabilized properties and those that are leasing up.

Joshua Viner

“Some markets like Boston recently enacted quite restrictive regulations,” Viner told Multi-Housing News. “Others are putting in some reasonable limits. Chicago has regulations in place that allow a certain percentage (of units) to be regulated as short term, no more than 25 percent or a maximum of six units. That gives us a window to operate.”

Eric Breon, CEO & founder of Vacasa, noted Vacasa’s opportunities have increased as the demand for alternative accommodations has grown.

“The multifamily industry is on the rise and to be successful, property managers need to deliver a high-quality and consistent experience for guests, while providing stable revenue for building developers and landlords. What we’ve traditionally brought to the vacation rental industry, we’ll be offering in the multifamily space: provide great guest experiences and increased revenue for our owners,” he said in a prepared statement.

Some of the services Vacasa Multifamily offers include:

  • Dedicated compliance and legal teams to keep up with changing regulations to ensure the firm has the necessary permits and licenses for each unit.
  • Security technology partners like NoiseAware, Point Central and Virtual Key that help Vacasa better screen guests, monitor noise and create safe, secure experiences for everyone in the buildings.
  • Local teams that are located in every market served to care for the properties and serve guests, homeowners and partners.
  • Interior design experts who work with developers and managers to furnish rental units.
  • Partnerships with booking platforms like Booking.com, Airbnb and Homeway to drive year-round bookings for Vacasa properties.

Viner stressed that the firm doesn’t see the booking platforms as competitors.

“We are not competing with them. We work with them,” he said, noting listings will be included on the Vacasa site as well as booking platforms.

Growing Company

In addition to Chicago, Vacasa Multifamily is operating in six other urban markets: Seattle; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio, Texas; Portland, Ore., where Vacasa has its main headquarters; and Boise, Idaho, where the firm also has an office.

Viner said the company is looking at expanding the multifamily offering in the new year.

“Our goal is to open up in a number of new markets in 2019,” he told MHN.

He declined to name locations but noted that the firm is watching for any changing regulations as well as multifamily vacancy rates in downtown cores to assess whether there are opportunities for operation.

While Vacasa doesn’t have a minimum on the number of units it would operate in a multifamily property, Viner said the average is about five but could go higher.

“The common complaint is we don’t want the building turned into a hotel and that’s fair,” he said. “We find a way to try and work with the buildings to be a good tenant.”

Vacasa has been growing steadily since it was formed nine years ago. It now manages a portfolio of more than 10,600 vacation homes in the United States, Europe, South and Central America and Africa. Last month, Vacasa completed the purchase of Oasis Collections, a home-sharing company that was backed in part by Hyatt Hotels Corp. The acquisition will allow Vacasa to enter several new international markets like Barcelona, Spain, and Paris. The transaction also put Vacasa ahead of Wyndham Vacation Rentals as the largest vacation rental company in North America.

Images courtesy of Vacasa