The vacation rental market is one of the fastest growing segments of the lodging industry. The slowdown in real estate sales has forced property owners to look for creative ways to generate income in order to wait out the market. If you own a home in a popular resort area you may want to consider converting your property into a vacation rental to generate income when you’re not using it. Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare your vacation property for the rental market.
The first step in preparing your property for the rental market is to research the rental ordinance at the local governing agency. Some resort areas have banned or restricted vacation rentals (occupancy of less than 30 days) and many require registration and/or inspection. Transient Occupancy Tax, or bed taxes, must be collected on every reservation and forwarded to your local city or county. Some cities require that vacation rental properties pay registration fees and be inspected for safety issues before the property is occupied. Get to know your local rules and regulations before you start renting.
Furnishings and Decor
Rental properties should have comfortable but durable furniture with fabrics that clean easily and resist stains. Used furniture is acceptable as long as it matches and is in “like new” condition. Use commercial quality, stain resistant carpeting in practical colors. White carpeting may look great in your own home but is not recommended for rental property. Top quality beds and bedding are a priority with mattresses more firm than soft. Hang colorful pictures and paintings that reflect your location or decorating theme. The kitchen should be fully equipped, just like your personal residence. Washers and dryers are highly recommended. Make sure you have enough dining and living room seating to accommodate the amount of people your property can sleep.
Popular amenities include: flat screen television, dvd player, pool table, Jacuzzi or hot tub, foosball table, board games, internet access, crib, books and magazines. Put together a notebook detailing how to operate the general systems of the property and include emergency contact numbers, brochures for local attractions, maps, and dining guides. Amenities will vary depending on your location. If your property is located near the beach, you may want to provide beach chairs and bicycles. A mountain property might have snow sleds or fishing poles available for guest use. Be creative and have fun with it.
Vacation rentals must be cleaned in-between each guest stay. Always provide your cleaners with a detailed list of your cleaning requirements. Purchase a second set of linens and have them ready for back to back reservations. Inspect the property after each cleaning to make sure it’s ready for the next guest. Complaints about cleanliness are the most common and avoidable type of complaint a vacation rental can receive. Going the extra mile in this department will save you both money and headaches in the long run.
If something is not working correctly, or if furniture is damaged, get it fixed immediately. Even something as small as a light bulb needing replacement can cause a guest to complain. Once again, inspections are the key to avoiding any potential problems. Create a room by room, top to bottom, inspection checklist and always give yourself enough time to make the necessary repairs. Plan on, and budget for, painting the interior walls and replacing the carpeting and flooring every 3 to 5 years. You are going to want your property to be occupied as often as possible and that means wear and tear. Deferred maintenance is part of the rental business.
Take good pictures of your property and post as many as possible. Photos are the best way to represent your property to potential guests, either online or in your brochure. Invest in a good camera with a wide-angle lens or hire a professional photographer. Keep a guest book in the property for guest comments and ask for permission to reprint their reviews. Remind your guests to review your property on Tripadvisor, Google, and Yahoo. Reward your guests that leave favorable reviews with a discounted future stay or some other incentive.
There are many details to managing a vacation rental. Take the time to prepare your property for the vacation rental market and it will be a rewarding experience for you and your guests.
Doug Meeder is a consultant with over 20 years experience in the vacation rental industry and has managed over 200 properties as a rental business owner. He works with vacation rental managers, property owners, Realtors*, and homeowner associations, developing and implementing a profitable, proven, business plan and marketing strategy for successful vacation rental management.
Doug’s expertise includes: website development and software solutions, sales and marketing, policy and procedure, branding, housekeeping and maintenance, safety and risk management, social networking, code compliance, and alternative revenue sources.
Contact Doug for a free initial consultation or additional information on his services, qualifications, and references at (909) 856-2124.
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