By Amy Larson, Photography courtesy of Vacasa tu Casa
A summer’s worth of caring for an inherited 1898-built Washington Coast cabin was a lot of work and good deal of a money pit for Eric Breon and his wife, Alia–so much so, that they considered giving up the property. Looking for a property manager who would provide what the place needed proved fruitless; no one would put in the amount of time and effort the Breons had, and none offered the trio of maintenance, marketing, and great returns the couple hoped for.
With a marketing and venture capital background, Eric Breon dove into the vacation rental management business, with the cabin as his first listing. While other property management companies felt they could assure a yearly amount of $3,000 in revenue, the Breons made around $20,000 in the first year of operation. That success inspired a partnership with Cliff Johnson, and the two founded Vacasa. Going door to door in an attempt to sign on more houses, both rolled up their sleeves, maintaining the properties until growth allowed them to hire employees.
That first cabin is now one of 2,300-plus listings world-wide, and Vacasa placed 9th on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2014.
Vacasa expanded into Idaho in April of 2012, and for a while, the Breons lived in Boise, with the co-founder readily adapting by riding his bike to work. Vacasa became a member of the Idaho Walk Bike Alliance, supported bike-friendly initiatives, encouraged a bike-infused business culture, and promoted biking among their guests.
“Eric really loves Boise,” says Kari Morlock, Vacasa Partnership and Community Relations Specialist. Morlock and a co-worker teach the Community Education class “Vacation Rentals 101,” a course for those contemplating renting out secondary homes.
The Breons themselves own a historic, renovated 1902 ivory and gray palette 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath North End home, aptly called the “Founder’s Home.” Specially designed for entertaining up to 37 people, the home is also on the list of rentals.
“It has all the comforts of home, because it is a home,” Morlock smiles. “People who want to do a rafting getaway, attend Treefort, go to conventions, or who are a part of a BSU game’s away-team cheering section can congregate in one big room, versus meeting in a lobby.”
“Boise fits Vacasa’s criteria,” says Kalli Bean, Vacasa representative. “The community has a lot of fun things to do, a lot of nature, and a lot of activities going on. Our clientele are attracted to places like this.”
Wanting to enhance community attractiveness is yet another branch of the Vacasa tree, and the company does so by collaborating with communities that house their properties. They currently sponsor activities with Boise Green Bikes, Boise Farmers Market, and are members of the Downtown Boise Association.
When mentioning downtown, Morlock, who works at the Vacasa office on 9th Street, enthuses over a newer condo listing on 8th Street, then shifts gears to a hacienda-style retreat dubbed “Rancho Agua Feliz” or “Happy Water Ranch,” with its colorful, cheerful décor, wandering-worthy gardens, free kayak usage, urban farm chickens and predictable fresh eggs.
And it all came about because of one difficult summer home experience.
“Sometimes it’s just timing,” says Morlock, “I think Eric had a winning combination, and that formula is still working well.”