On tiny Tybee Island, Georgia, good things often come in small packages. Case in point: a once-ragged 1940s cottage that owner Evelyn Kelly and designer Jane Coslick transformed into a cheerful "pied-à-mer." Every square inch reflects an eye for function and cozy living, not to mention the distinctive brand of quirky charm that has come to define this barrier island.

Kelly, a California resident, fell in love with Tybee's funky, come-as-you-are character seven years ago when visiting her daughter, an art history professor at nearby Savannah College of Art and Design. "I was looking for an East Coast property, a place to spend time with my daughter and my grandson," says Kelly. The island, especially the historic district surrounding Fort Screven, a former military base, was immediately appealing. But the clincher was a delightful cottage she rented from Coslick on her first visit.

Photo: Richard Leo Johnson; Styling: Elizabeth Beeler

We put this question to realtors from coast to coast, and the answer was unanimous: YES.

By Caroline McKenzie

With an average cost of 10-15% of a rental fee, property managers may seem like an unnecessary expense of to owning a vacation rental. But real estate professionals agree they are worth the investment. Why the emphatic support?

First and foremost, practicality. The National Association of Realtors reports that the average vacation home is 200 miles away from an owner's primary residence. That distance makes it difficult to stay on top of, or even aware of, wear and tear.  "Any home, but especially one at the beach requires constant upkeep," says Sep Niakan a realtor with HB Roswell Realty in Miami. "Having a property manager is a way to ensure your vacation rental is enjoyable instead of a chore."

Related: How to Make a Vacation Home Pay for Itself:

A good property manager will have a solid roster of home professionals (plumber, electrician, painter, etc.) and be well versed in the cost of various services in the area. (So you don’t have to worry about getting overcharged by an eager handyman.) What's more, many property managers can help promote the home. Jill Olivarez of Home Pocket in Destin, FL finds that would-be beach landlords often fail to adequately spread the word about their rental. Since empty homes deliver no rental income, a committed property manager could pay for his or herself in just a few weeks.  They can also coordinate transactions, track rental income, and ensure logistics like issuing and returning keys are handled safely.

Still not convinced? Consider compensating your property manager on a percentage of rental income. And when hiring, be sure to ask for references from current clients and speak with the home repair vendors they recommend. Find a manager you feel good about, and chances are you’ll sleep better—whether you’re resting your head at that beach rental or your fulltime residence.