Vacasa today unveiled a new program to add apartments and condos in big cities to its growing vacation rental platform.
Under the new program, called Vacasa Multifamily, the company signs long-term leases with building owners, developers and property managers for units in urban areas and turns around and rents them out to vacationers. Vacasa could lease as few as one or a couple of units, though it is also open to taking larger chunks of units in some cases.
Vacasa Multifamily operates in the company’s hometown of Portland as well as Seattle, Boise, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, with more markets to come in 2019.
“A natural spot for us is going to more urban markets,” said Colin Carvey, head of growth for Vacasa. “We need to be where our guests want to go; we need to provide services to our owners. Urban markets is something we have done for a period of time; we just haven’t gone full tilt into looking at it as a part of our business.”
The move into multifamily is another example of Vacasa’s growing portfolio of services. In July, the company debuted a new network aimed at helping people through the process of buying and selling second homes. Another new program is geared toward managers of community and home owners’ associations.
Last month, Vacasa acquired Oasis Collections, a short-term home-sharing company backed by Hyatt Hotels. Oasis Collections runs a marketplace focused on private high-end vacation homes across 17 locations worldwide, adding to Vacasa’s portfolio in urban and international markets.
Vacasa was bootstrapped for the first six years of its existence, but has raised gobs of cash over the last two years to fund these moves. The No. 2 company on the GeekWire 200, Vacasa raised a $64 million round last month, approximately a year after bringing in $103 million.
Vacasa is similar to platforms like Airbnb, which reached valuation of $31 billion last year, and HomeAway, which was acquired by Expedia for $3.9 billion in 2015.
But Vacasa has a few key differences — namely, it is a “full-service property management company,” helping homeowners manage the entire booking process from start-to-finish. In addition to more than 500 people working out of offices in Portland (which just doubled in capacity) and Boise, the company employs 2,000 people across its markets for on-the-ground “field-based roles” — housekeepers, reservations agents, local managers, etc.
Vacasa actually counts Airbnb and HomeAway as partners, providing inventory for their marketplaces.
The move into multifamily puts it squarely in competition with companies like Spokane-based Stay Alfred, Domio, Lyric and others. Joshua Viner, senior manager of Vacasa Multifamily, said the company doesn’t want to fall into what he calls the “winner’s curse,” overpaying to beat out competitors for master leases of big chunks of units or entire buildings.
“We are not trying to necessarily follow those businesses into an arms race for inventory,” Viner said of competing with other services. “We’re not trying to keep pace with them unit for unit. What we are looking at is what are the locations that Vacasa really wants to be in to be able to offer that consistent service to the guest.”