Q. I have a summer home that I’ve never rented out, but I’m thinking about it because I don’t get to use it enough. Should I do it through Airbnb or hire a management company or what?
— Unsure

A. You’ve got plenty of options, and there is no one right answer for every homeowner.

Here’s what you should consider:

A management company can be expensive, but it also depends on whether or not you are personally maintaining the property and if that’s a responsibility you can continue to keep under control, said Dean Shah, a certified financial planner with Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland.

“How far the property is from your home is also a factor,” Shah said. “If it’s out-of-state, it could be more costly for you to maintain from a distance than it would be if you hired a management company.”

There are different advantages you could get from using Airbnb. For the uninitiated, Airbnb is a web-based company that could give you more internet exposure.

“Airbnb presents itself as a lovechild of the `sharing economy,’ but it functions as a business,” Shah said. “They charge a certain percentage from each transaction. They nevertheless place much of the burden of complying with the law into your hands.”

That could be a headache you’re not ready to take on.

Shah said there are other similar websites worth looking at.

He said a company called HomeAway offers the three leading websites in the U.S. to list your property — HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, and VacationRentals.com.

Then there’s also FlipKey.com, which Shah said attracts significant traffic given its exclusive arrangement as TripAdvisor’s vacation-home rental engine.

If there’s a strong local website that caters to vacationers, add that to your list, he said.

Shah said there are some serious implications to letting strangers into your house.

“Make sure you have a robust insurance plan that will have you covered if your guest throws a wild party or sets your house on fire,” he said.

You’re also putting yourself at potential liability risk if your guests get injured or if they damage other property or injure neighbors, Shah said.

“Your homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover this risk and you may have to buy a business insurance policy,” Shah said. “Since your short-term rental is a business, it’s always smart to incorporate, as an LLC or otherwise.”

Before you make a final decision, he recommends you compare rental income with the additional expenses and risks.

Email your questions to ask@njmoneyhelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.