It’s easy to see the appeal as a traveler of a renting a vacation home.
You arrive to a private, well-appointed, and professionally cleaned home (often even nicer than your own!) near many things you and your family love to do. The gleaming chef’s kitchen will be the site of many memorable dinners and pancake breakfasts, and the spa-like bathrooms will be the perfect place for a long soak in the tub and tackling a few chapters of that book you have been meaning to read. The cozy beds will be the perfect place to rest and recharge and the views from the deck will be the backdrop for memories and photos you and yours will cherish for years to come.
It is also easy to see the appeal for vacation homeowners. You can enjoy your home anytime you like. Should you want to vacation elsewhere or get busy with life and not be able to visit for a bit, your home can provide an impressive return on your investment (and often pay for itself!) by serving as a cherished retreat where families and friends return each year to vacation and make memories. And as long as you partner with a vacation home management company who will take impeccable care of your home and market it effectively to desirable renters, you can just enjoy your home, while they focus on your return on investment.
The private vacation rental market is booming, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon — meaning now is a wonderful time to get in the game. If you have never owned and rented out vacation property before, you may at this very moment be shrugging your shoulders with an “I wouldn’t even know where to start” look on your face. The truth is, it’s not that complicated, but there are some things you will need to do to make sure your home succeeds.
Obtain the Necessary Permits
Ah, yes, the paperwork. Yawn. But since you’re turning your property into a business, you need to get the necessary permits and/or licenses. These will, of course, vary by municipality. There are two ways you can go about this: do it yourself or hire a vacation rental manager to do it for you. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s just a matter of what’s easier for you. If you live in the same area as the rental, you might be able to do some of the legwork yourself. But if you’re halfway across the country, a manager may be the way to go. Additionally, a manager is familiar with the process and knows how to negotiate paperwork, forms, inspections, etc.
Ready Your Property for Guests
Is this your home that you’ll be renting out part-time while you’re not there? If so, you have some decisions to make. Since guests will be staying in your home, you have to determine what you feel comfortable putting in the hands of people you’ve never met. Anything that has sentimental value — one of a kind or very valuable — should be removed from the house or put away in a locked room.
If it’s not your personal home, you need to think about how you’ll furnish it. While you want to do it as economically as possible, furniture and décor should be aesthetically pleasing, clean and put together with a definite purpose or style. Random furniture and decorations do not say “home,” they simply say this is a place to sleep and store your things while you’re out sightseeing. A good chunk of the vacation rental market is repeat customers, and you’ll have people making reservations for next year — and even recommending it to friends — if they love the house itself.
Some Tips from the Home Success Team at Meredith Lodging:
- There are some home furnishings and appointments that guests rave about, and that’s a great place to start. These include:
- Room to Gather Together. Be sure to have enough seating for the number of occupants allowed in the house in the gathering spaces – including the dining room table, the great room area and any outside tables or seating areas, too.
- Restful and Well-Appointed Retreats. Guests rave about comfortable beds and luxury linens. The team at Meredith Lodging has a shortlist of furniture and home décor items that strike the right balance between good value and good investment – and they are happy to help you get whatever you need.
- Smart Tv’s. Everyone loves their favorite streaming apps, and lots of kiddos (and grown-ups!) are gamers, too. Smart Tv’s not only look better, but guests will also take note and appreciate this upgrade.
- A Well-Equipped Kitchen. Of course, it is important to have plenty of cups, glasses, plates, bowls, and silverware, and investing in some extra’s guests love can really improve your home’s profitability. Think nice wineglasses, waffle irons, nice cookware and bakeware, a good blender, serving platters or an upgraded coffee maker or espresso machine. All make for memorable meals and great reviews!
- A Place to Gather Outside. A BBQ area, private hot tub, outdoor table, lounge furniture – guests love it all! These are common amenities guests search for when booking a home.
- Room to Play! Vacationers love playful extras in a home.... from bikes or wagons in the garage to sand toys or sleds, to game rooms with fun amenities like ping-pong, pool, and foosball – these investments will make your home stand out from the rest.
- When it feels like your home is ready, look around and ask yourself, “Is this a place I would like to stay? If I were to write an online review, what would I say?”
Crafting a Rental Agreement
This is another area where a vacation rental management company can help you and your home get off to a strong start. As an owner, you have the right to modify/set the rules, and a carefully written contract will protect you if the property is somehow damaged.
- Will you allow pets (homes that are pet friendly tend to be booked about 20% more than homes that are not)?
- What is the maximum occupancy? (This may be regulated by local ordinances.)
- What are your deposit, cancellation, and refund policies?
- Are there parking restrictions or requirements?
- What about trash and recycling?
- Do you need to include instructions about certain appliances?
- Are there any areas of the home that guests do not have access to?
There is lot to think about!
It’s a good idea to post the house rules in a prominent place — Rules are also typically displayed in a well-trafficked common area like the front entranceway or kitchen — and are easy to spot, colorful and fun to read.
Help Your Home Rise Above the Competition
What will make your vacation rental stand out above others? Location? Décor? Amenities? All the above? Since people will be looking at an online listing, your photos and descriptions should be nothing short of outstanding, and vacation property management companies have talented photographers, home stagers and interior decorators on staff for this reason. Potential guests will look at the photos before they read anything, and top-notch photos and staging will help your home stand out!
Once your photos have them hooked, you need a great description. Property management companies will have writers on hand to craft an appealing picture, highlighting the positive aspects of your home and making sure to mention all the amenities and extras that make your home special. They will also be sure to detail all the nearby attractions and how easy it is to visit them from your home.
By partnering with a strong vacation rental management company from the start, your vacation rental can be a terrific source of passive income, and a relatively worry-free business. True, it takes a little time and effort to get everything set up and running, but once you do, you can sit back, relax, and watch the dollars roll in! They will take care of everything else, and keep you informed about all of it – so you will be kept up to date on your treasured investment.