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However, due to the power of the internet, if you have some free time you don't have to be tied into a management company, particularly given that you have someone nearby for when emergencies happen. Setting up a listing has never been easier, and FL in particular has endless websites just for FL. People will come to you with their business, and you can hire someone to clean the property for you, as well as handle emergencies that arise.

I am an "absent" landlord in that our seasonal property is in a semi-rural location about 800 miles away. To give a very high-level summary of what we did:
1. While there doing work on the property, called several local realtors, management companies, and put an ad in Craigslist looking for someone to act as onsite managers. The management companies were definitely the most expensive option, but also "one-stop-shops". Our ultimate goal was that because we had invested a lot of sweat, tears, and money into the property to renovate it and planned to keep it for years to come for our family, we wanted it to be taken care of by someone who would "treat it as if it were their own".
2. Interviewed several potential people in person. Found a local couple through the Craigslist ad that would be willing to manage, clean, and be general caretakers for the property. They are the 'front line' of contact for any renters at the property: they greet them upon their arrival and review the rules of the property, take calls from them for emergencies or general questions about the property or the area, help coordinate any services that might be needed, etc.
3. We have some vendors that we've dealt with in the past (property has been in family for several decades), others we found through recommendations of friends/neighbors or the local couple mentioned before.
4. I found several rental agreements online that were based in the state where we rent, crafted a Frankenstein of my own based on them (fairly extensive, too.. wanted to make sure everything was covered), then sent it off to a lawyer for review and updates.
5. Set up bank accounts to handle deposits and operating expenses of the rental. Set up a PayPal account to accept credit card transactions.
6. We list our property on HomeAway, VRBO, and I set up a website for the property as well. I had used a state-specific VR website the first year, but received 0 inquiries from it, so have not revisited. Inquiries seem to be generally split between VRBO and HomeAway.
7. Since then, I've been accepting the inquiries, vetting the potential renters, handling all the financial aspects, and coordinating activities with local vendors and our local caretakers/cleaners. Some days it takes more time than others, to be sure. Honestly I probably couldn't count the number of hours spent and late nights after getting home from work.. But I'd much prefer to have this hands-on approach to our property, so I know as much as I can about what's going on, what needs to be done, who's staying there, etc.

So far we've been fortunate (crossing fingers and knocking on wood) with getting great renters. Only one party that was suspect and apparently was completely oblivious to the fact that they were breaking some of our rules, but fortunately no harm resulted. We've only been doing it a couple years, but glad to see several repeat renters this year. Definitely makes it easier and less stressful!
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