The dream of a vacation home is something many of us hope for, but owning a second home that remains vacant most of the year doesn't make much sense. If you want to be able to make the most of your investment (and still fully enjoy your time there), it is worth looking into renting your vacation home to others throughout the year.
In some markets, you may even be able to cover the mortgage payments with income from renting the home. These tips will help you make your vacation home as appealing as possible for renters, and help you stay cool and collected during the process.
The process begins before you even make a purchase. Here are a few things to consider early on that can make or break your vacation rental income.
- Think about locations that have both winter and summer attractions (Lake Tahoe, for instance, has year-round appeal).
- Get to know the area before you commit. Being familiar with the most popular restaurants, beaches, shopping areas and markets in the area is key. Whether you end up choosing a location close to conveniences or a secluded, idyllic spot, you will have made an educated decision that is less likely to backfire.
- If the prices are looking too steep to invest on your own, you may want to consider going in with family members or friends. Sharing the responsibility and the rewards could make your dream possible. Just remember, it's always a good idea to get professional legal advice before entering into any sort of financial obligation with friends or family.
Ready to get to work? Start with the front porch. Curb appeal is not just for selling homes. Imagine your potential renters scrolling quickly through pages and pages of vacation house listings — often with only a thumbnail photo of the front of the house to lure them in.
Make sure that front-page photo is a winner. Refinish the floors, scrub the siding, fix the lights and style the porch or yard with cute furniture and summery props. Do whatever you need to do to make the front of your home look as charming as the inside.
Make your main living space friendly to big groups. Vacationers (and this probably goes for you, too) are there to relax, but also to spend time with their family and friends. Make your main space as welcoming as possible for big groups. A large dining table (or one with removable leaf extensions) and an open floor plan are both great selling points. Keep decorative items to a minimum, especially on surfaces where guests will want to be able to store their own belongings.
Keep a home inventory and a reference book. A thorough and well-organized vacation home reference binder is worth its weight in gold! Avoid mishaps by clearly recording all inventory in a master list, and provide visitors with ample instructions on everything from garbage pickup and how to work the remote control to emergency numbers and a map to the nearest grocery store. If guests are welcome to use up the contents of your pantry, bar and fridge, make that clear. Likewise, anything that is off-limits should be spelled out.
Maximize sleeping quarters. Many vacationers will be looking for the most possible number of beds to accommodate their group. If you have multiple bedrooms, put two beds (or bunks) in at least one of them. Even if you have a small one-bedroom cottage, you can have a sofabed or an air mattress.
Pay extra attention to the master bedroom. Solid furniture, a pretty paint color, fresh bed linens and perhaps somewhere to read or write postcards are all welcome touches.
Update outdoor dining and hang-out zones. If you have been putting off decorating the outdoor spaces, now is the time to quit procrastinating and take action. It certainly doesn't need to be fancy, but having an outdoor dining and seating area in a vacation home is a must.
Make it easy for guests to keep things neat. A well-ordered home will save many headaches down the road. Consider using a label maker to print stickers for cupboards and shelves, or use a Julia Child–inspired pegboard with silhouettes painted on to organize your pots and pans.
Keep a basic but well-stocked kitchen. Don't break the bank when it comes to stocking fragile items in a rental, but do attempt to keep a simple set of white dishes in stock, along with the essentials for cooking and baking tasks.If you stick to white you will know you can always add matching replacements, even if you can't find the exact same ones again.
White linens radiate cleanliness. Dark colors hide stains better, but that may be why guests prefer white. Anyway, solid white sheets and towels are easier to keep clean than prints or darker colors, because you can bleach them.
Store your personal items in a locked cupboard or closet. Just because you are afraid guests will break your grandmother's wineglasses or even take something does not mean you need to go without. Just keep personal, fragile and valuable items in a locked closet. Have lots to store? You can always lock up the garage or a small spare room.
Decide whether to include tech amenities. Many people will be thrilled if you offer a free Wi-Fi connection and cable TV during their stay. Of course that does not mean you must offer it. Consider how much you will be using the home, and if these are things you would want to pay for anyway, you might as well offer them to guests, too.
Be a good host, even though you are not there. It is a nice gesture to provide visitors with a few fun perks to give them a more personalized visit.
Items to consider: board games, puzzles, extra beach towels, boogie boards, beach cruisers, sand toys, baby gear and sports equipment.
Consider investing in popular outdoor features. Been thinking of adding an outdoor shower, a fire pit, a hot tub or a barbecue? Now you have a great excuse to go for it ... because the guests will love it, too.
Prepare for parties. Even well-meaning guests can sometimes break things or turn the music up too loud for the neighbors. You can't control everything that happens, but you can do your best to prepare your home.
Providing a full set of unbreakable glassware and dishes is a great start. Also, be sure to provide ample outdoor seating, so guests are not tempted to drag the indoor furniture outside.
Working with a management company can also make your life a lot easier. They will deal with immediate problems so you don't have to.
Consider having professional photos taken. Since most visitors will be booking your vacation home without seeing it in person, having really superb photos is essential. Enlist the help of a friend with top-notch photography skills or hire a pro.
When it comes time for the photo shoot, make sure the house is clean and uncluttered from top to bottom (put all personal items away), inside and out. You may also want to take a few pictures of nearby draws, such as a beach within walking distance of the house or a favorite biking trail.
Syndicated from Houzz.
For similar stories visit Houzz.com or check out these recommended articles: