Upstart site aims to make vacation renting easier for owners

By Johanna Jainchill

The founders of a new website are trying to make it easier for second-home owners to become vacation-rental owners.

Evolve Vacation Rental Network, which launched last month, handles the listing and marketing side of renting a vacation home, including listings not only on their own site but also across the major vacation rental websites such as HomeAway, VRBO and FlipKey.

The Denver-based company takes a 10% fee if the property is rented. Evolve pays to list the properties, so there is no cost to the homeowner unless the home is rented.

The company aims to take the hassle that it says deters many homeowners from renting their properties by creating appealing listings, responding to any inquiries (within minutes, the company said), updating the calendar, handling payment and providing online rental agreements.

“There is a movement to make vacation rentals an easier choice for travelers and to make it more efficient,” said Brian Egan, co-founder and CEO of Evolve. “We’re really attacking that from the owners side. If we can make it an easier choice to go from being a second-home owner to a vacation-rental owner, then we can have a big impact on this market.”

Egan said that after speaking to hundreds of people who owne second homes, he found that many were frustrated by how much time it takes to handle a vacation-rental listing, as well as not knowing how to list it well.

They also voiced displeasure that property-management companies can take as much as 50% of the rental income.

In beta testing, Egan said one-third of customers that Evolve attracted were homeowners that previously were unwilling to rent their houses because of those barriers.

“We’ve been excited to see a number of homeowners who did not previously list their homes who are coming to us,” he said.

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