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Vacasa proves the quiet power of vacation rentals with $64M in new funding

Vacasa proves the quiet power of vacation rentals with $64M in new funding
[Photo: Edgar Chaparro/Unsplash]

Vacation rentals have always been a sleepy business. Vacasa wants to shake it up. The property management company has announced a new $64 million round of funding, bringing its total capital raised to $207.5 million.

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Vacasa lists homes for rent on its platform much like Airbnb, but the company also manages property for homeowners, handling everything from marketing and bookings to decor and maintenance. Since the company distributes its listings on other booking platforms, it doesn’t see itself as competing with Airbnb or HomeAway.

The company is keen to shift more of its business away from booking and toward services. In June, it expanded into real estate consulting, pairing home buyers and sellers with a network of roughly 500 real estate agents. Vacasa has in-house real estate agents as well as a selection of preferred partners, giving it an opportunity to collect referral commissions. But CEO Eric Breon sees the most value in being with a potential home buyer at the beginning of their journey.

“If we can help people during that process when they’re looking for answers of which homes should they buy and how can they get started, that just sets us up for a long-term relationship,” he says.

The company focuses almost exclusively on second homes in leisure destinations. Vacasa has been around since 2009, but it wasn’t until 2016 that it started to raise funding. Over the last two years, the company has seen big growth. It acquired 21 vacation rental management companies and recently surpassed Wyndham Hotel’s stock of vacation rentals. (Wyndham has 10,000 homes; Vacasa has 10,600.)

For investors, the company is an opportunity to get into the tech-enabled real estate market without worrying about regulatory crackdowns. “The majority of our homes are on beaches or ski houses in mountains–places where vacation rentals are the bread and butter of the economy,” says Breon. Recently, major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Paris have passed restrictions on home rentals in effort to protect long-term housing. “The lakefront house in Lake Tahoe isn’t affordable housing,” adds Breon.

Vacasa may also be angling for a public offering in the near future. In May, the company hired a new chief legal officer, Lisa Jurinka, who has taken two private companies public in the past.

Correction: This article misstated the number of real estate agents in Vacasa’s network. The figure has been updated. 

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