Wednesday, May 8, 2013



Many people are under the false impression that VRBO's do not pay their Transient Occupancy Tax.  The fact is, a vast majority of VRBO's in Montery County DO pay their TOT.  Most others will gladly pay when permitted and provided a simple way to register & pay online. TOT paid to Monterey County by VRBO accommodations was well over 1 million dollars last year.   The County will receive much more when it provides a reasonable process to comply, like other California cities have done. Example cities would include Rancho Mirage,  Coachella,  Dana Point, and Santa Cruz.

2. PARTIERS NEED NOT APPLY: Our customers are mostly couples, families, or families traveling with friends. We do not cater to the partying crowd.  For the most part the VRBO/STR owner community is a responsible group that understands from the onset they are entering private homes for their vacations. VRBO operators screen for potential problems and have clauses in their contracts that not only dictate responsible behavior, but allow for guests to be evicted if the noise level, or other issues, cause a complaint.

3. Long Term Housing availability is not lessened by VRBO’s.
Finding “responsible” long term renters has always been fraught with potential pit falls for the private home owner. Therefore, housing in small communities has always been difficult to find. By making a decision to bring guests onto their properties and into their homes for short terms, private home owners are insuring they have control over how their property is maintained and how their guests behave locally. Workforce Housing is not the responsibility of the private home owner. When Pacific Grove recognized the economic value to the community that VRBO's provide in the way of jobs, improved curb appeal, and serving visitors, the numbers of STR's did not dramatically increase for two reasons.  1.  Running a vacation rental is a lot of hard work.  2. A STR owner takes significant financial risk, due to the uncertainty of occupancy. It’s just not a business that fits everyone.

4. SHORT TERM VS LONG TERM RENTAL?  Whether you own and operate a short or long term rental you are still a Landlord. As such, there should be no discrimination between those that rent their home out to two or more people for less than 29 days and those that rent their home for 30 days and more. They are both business’ that provide services, income, and jobs for the community.
VRBO's by definition, are located in and managed by the private sector. They are managed locally by private owners who are trying to make a living or defraying their home-ownership costs by offering a quality alternative for the vacationing public.

There is an illusion that VRBO’s are in it for the incredible money that is to be made. This simply isn’t so. The vast majority of VRBO’s started because the economy went into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Property values fell, IRA’s were destroyed and jobs were lost. There simply wasn’t another way to make a living. The VRBO business model is a demanding one that makes a mockery of an eight hour day, and involves personal sacrifice on the part of home owners. Only the very best survive by being gracious and responsible hosts. At an average of 60% occupancy, VRBO’s barely break even. Many VRBO owners are one and two bedroom homes owned by retired senior citizens trying to make it on Social Security. 

Some think that investors are going to buy up all of our housing and turn it into Vacation Rentals. Don’t ring the alarms just yet. Any Realtor that tells you that you should buy a property because it will pay for itself with vacation rentals is not painting a truthful picture.  If your goal is to defray some of your costs of home ownership then it might be a good plan for some people, but the hard work and lack of a guaranteed income make it an unsure enterprise and a poor investment idea for most.

7.  INCREASED ROAD TRAFFIC? WATER USE?  One concern shared by some in rural areas or gated communities is that VRBO’s are going to increase traffic and water use over that of Long Term Rentals.  When you stop and think that a Long Term Rental usually involves a couple with two cars and 100% occupancy, the truth emerges. Occupancy for VRBO’s run at close to 60%-70% and guests arrive in one car. There are, simply put, a lot of days when a VRBO sits empty. Another myth surrounding VRBO’s is they increase shared liability on private roads. Whether you offer a short or long term rental the liability is the same. No insurance company will differentiate between someone renting two days and someone renting 30 days.

8. VRBO guests are: Lastly, some would perpetuate the myth that the VRBO clientele is a careless, reckless, inexperienced crowd, ill-suited for inclusion in our communities. The fact is the VRBO clientele is you and I. There are firemen, policemen, and professionals from every walk of life. Writers, dancers, and veterans of war all deciding to experience the more intimate, serene and up close accommodations that VRBO’s offer. They are all from neighborhoods not so unlike your own, all with a sense of wonder about something new, and all cut from the same fabric as you.

Co-written by Christian Van Allen for BSBED  (Big Sur Board of Economic Development)  All rights reserved 2013

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