You’ve purchased your perfect beach home, and now you want to share it with others. Establishing a successful vacation rental can be a daunting prospect, especially for owners who live far away from their investment properties. Follow these simple steps to have your property ready for renters with the peace of mind of knowing your bases are covered:
- Set Income Goals: What are your primary goals for your rental? Do you wish to simply offset some of your carrying costs, cover all ownership expenses or produce a profit? Spend some time reviewing your individual situation so that you can set realistic goals based on how much you plan to use the property personally and how many weeks you’d like to rent it. For most vacation rentals, seasons affect the rental rates and booking frequencies so your income goals may affect when and how the property can be used for personal time.
- Choose Management: Will you rent by owner or use a property management company? Renting by owner is the right choice for people who want full control over who and how often the property is rented and want to retain the full rental income. However, it also requires the resources and time to market, manage and maintain the property for guests. Property management companies generally offer these services for a commission percentage of the weekly rent. If you choose outside management, speak with several companies to find one where you feel most comfortable with the communication and marketing style that will be used to represent your home.
- Review Policies and Regulations: States often have different zoning requirements by county for short-term rental properties. Check with your local county office along with your homeowner’s association to be aware of any possible restrictions or guidelines that would affect the rental of your property. Review state and federal sales tax requirements to make sure that you are aware of taxing procedures, particularly if you choose to manage the property directly.
- Prepare Your Home: Whether your home is already furnished or you are starting from scratch, you need to evaluate the suitability of your décor and accommodations for rental guests. Guests expect a rental to offer all the conveniences of home—from coffee pots to comfortable bedding. Make sure to provide seating and service items such as plates, glasses and towels for at least the number of people your home will sleep. A clean, modern style appeals to a broader range of people, and removing personal items such a family photographs helps neutralize your space. Choose furnishings that can handle heavy use and avoid breakable décor items for the safety of your guests. Secure any valuables or owner-use items in a locked closet or cabinet.
- Add Special Touches: Vacation rental markets tend to be highly competitive, and the success of your rental will be impacted by return guests and referrals. Make your home welcoming and memorable for your guests by adding unexpected conveniences including toys for children, movie services such as Netflix or Hulu, games for all ages, comfortable outdoor areas and beach wagons and chairs. Your home will set the stage for lasting family memories!
Your investment property is now ready to be marketed and booked by either your rental company or yourself. Be sure to also listen and implement guest feedback to create a successful rental property for years to come.