How Debbie James Became A Vacation Rental Expert

How Debbie James Became A Vacation Rental Expert

Debbie James Vacation Rental Real Estate Expert

30 Days to 30A

Michael and Debbie James spent the five and a half hour car ride back to Atlanta in silence. They had just spent three days falling in love with the coast along Scenic Highway 30A and couldn’t imagine settling into the lives they had created for themselves back home. As the car crossed back into Georgia, they were both quietly plotting how they could uproot their lives and business and move to the beach as soon as possible.

Both originally from the Northeast, Michael and Debbie met in Atlanta in the late nineties and were married in May of 2001. At the time, Debbie was in sales and Michael held a job at a financial advisory firm. The same year they were married, they left their jobs to pursue real estate investing. They spent the next several years buying, selling, and renting real estate in the Atlanta area.

But a quick trip to the beach changed all of that…

After visiting the 30A area for the first time in May of 2004, Michael and Debbie knew they wanted to be living at the beach full-time…and after that quiet car ride back to Atlanta, they both knew the only way to get back to the beach was to completely pull the cord.

Within days of getting home, their house was on the market and they began making arrangements to turn over their business. Thirty days later, they found themselves living at the beach…permanently!


This Place Is “Paradise”

Once they moved to the beach, Debbie got her real estate license, and Michael began working as a freelancer photographing homes along the coast.

Over the next several years, Debbie noticed that the real estate companies that were getting great leads also had rental divisions. Leads from the real estate firm fed into the rental company, and leads from the rental company fed back into the real estate firm. Also, she was tired of referring her clients to other rental companies that weren’t taking good care of those clients OR their properties. She began to push the real estate firm she was with to launch their own rental division, but nothing ever came to fruition.

After changing real estate firms multiple times over the next decade, Debbie finally realized that she and Michael needed to start something on their own. And in a vacation area that was quickly gaining popularity with beachgoers throughout the southeast, the decision was a no brainer.

To start, they needed a name. Debbie had always told her real estate clients, “This place is paradise!” And that’s how they landed on their business name, because the area they wanted to serve is truly paradise.

And so, Paradise Beach Rentals was born.


The Beginning of Something Great

In early 2014, Michael and Debbie suddenly found themselves managing a handful of vacation rental properties along the coast of 30A. Most of these properties had also been Debbie’s real estate clients. 

They quickly found themselves learning the proper way to run a rental management company. In order to beat the learning curve, they spent countless hours reading and researching, attending national conferences, and getting consulting from industry experts. But in the end, it was the on-the-job training that taught them the most, and they were able to build a personalized company from the ground up.

Besides building a company that was very focused on guests, Michael and Debbie both knew that they had very high standards when it came to cleaning. When Michael used to photograph rental properties and homes for sale, he would always carry an extra bag with him full of cleaning supplies. The cleaners that had come in before him always seemed to miss a spot: dust on the ceiling fans or in the air vents, toothpaste in the sink, etc. They did not want their guests to have to experience the same thing.

So, they decided they wanted to pay extra to have great cleaners. Today, they are thankful that they set such high standards, unlike other rental companies. They have received countless comments from guests on the cleanliness of the rental properties they manage.

In fact, three different sets of guests enjoyed their stays so much, including the attention to cleanliness and communication, that they ended up buying properties of their own and contracting with Paradise Beach Rentals.

Over the past several years, Michael and Debbie have added over twenty properties to their management program, many of which are either Debbie’s clients or referrals from other owners.


The Future 

Now that they have a full-time team of four in place, including an operations manager and an inspections and laundry supervisor, Michael can focus on growing the business. Debbie has continued to sell real estate over the years and plans to continue doing so. Her clients value her knowledge of the area and expertise in knowing what to look for in a great potential rental property.

And she is beyond thankful that she gets to do it in paradise!

Are you looking to buy an investment property along Scenic Highway 30A? Are you wanting a vacation home that will give you a great return on investment as a rental? Call Debbie James today at 850-450-2000 or send her an email at

She’s ready to give you the best service you’ll ever receive from a real estate agent. She has the expert knowledge and extensive experience that will help you find the perfect home at the beach!

Debbie James

850 Properties
32 Hub Lane, Watersound, FL 32461

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