How to Rent Your Vacation Home
You’ve purchased your vacation rental property and are eager to start renting it out. But there is still a lot you need to do and know about vacation rentals before you begin. Here are our top tips for renting your vacation home.
Do Your Homework
There are a lot of things to consider when renting out your vacation home, including the current vacation rental trends that are attracting the most guests at the highest prices. Before you start listing your property on vacation rental sites, you’ll want to research how to attract the perfect guest and what extra details to include for prospective guests. Check out our vacation rental tips for owners for a simple process that will set you on the path to vacation rental success.
Pay Attention to Interior Design
One of the most important factors that will help you attract guests to your vacation property is how it looks. People want to stay somewhere that looks nice, feels comfortable, and compliments their trip. After all, your vacation home is their escape from daily life. The easiest way to tackle interior design is to research some vacation home design ideas before getting started or invest in one of the vacation rental furniture packages available in your area.
Think Outside the Box
In this case, the box is the house. Once you’re done preparing the interior of your vacation home, you’ll want to tend to the outside. That means everything on the property not inside the house—including the front yard, backyard, side yards, driveway, and even the mailbox. Vacationers are looking for places to stay that are beautiful and welcoming inside and out. Depending on the state of the outside, some landscaping, gardening, and outdoor fixture upgrading may be necessary before you take any photos for your vacation rental listings.
Take Professional Photos
Potential renters are only going to see the vacation home you show them in photos. Even if you do everything else right, using less than impressive photos for your marketing efforts can be the difference between continuous bookings and being continuously empty. It will be well worth your while to hire a professional real estate photographer to capture your vacation rental in a way that draws in guests.
Research Local Tax Requirements
When you rent out a vacation home and collect income, taxes will become an inevitability. In addition to your city, county, and/or state tax rules for rental income, there are federal tax rules that will help determine what you can and cannot claim to reduce taxes on your rental income. Forbes has an informative article that details how to rent out a vacation home without “getting slammed” by the IRS.
One of the last things you want is for someone to be injured on your vacation property and sue you for property liability. You’ll also want the home and its contents to be covered in the event of a theft, fire, natural disaster, etc. Look into the different types of vacation rental insurance that are available to you and select the one that’s the best fit for your vacation property. At a minimum, your policy should include liability coverage, contents and structure coverage, lost income, and additional coverage—such as flood, earthquake, or hurricane insurance—if the home is in an area where those are needed.
Market Your Vacation Rental
In this day and age, there are numerous ways to market a vacation rental property. Depending on the level of involvement you want to have in the actual vacation rental process, you may decide to hire a property management company that will allow you to be mostly hands-off. Keep in mind, however, that there is a cost to using a property management company. They typically charge between 30–50% of all rental earnings they are involved with. If you want to retain more of your earnings or be more hands-on, you can use a third-party hosting service like Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway.
Listen to Renter Wants & Needs
Thanks to the recent changes in vacation rental trends, most guests expect hotel-quality amenities (without the hotel price tag) during their stay. They will want to know what amenities will be available to them while they’re at your vacation home. That may include toiletries, Wi-Fi, cable TV (or a streaming service), any consumable items in the kitchen, or the like. The same goes for extra features of the home; if it has a pool, dock, etc. that guests are welcome to use, be sure to list them in the description of your rental. Be attentive to their needs and respond quickly to any issues or concerns they may have. Ultimately, you’ll want all of your guests to come away from their stay with positive feelings.
Go Above and Beyond
Even if you meet every guest personally when they arrive, modern vacation renters still appreciate having an easy-to-notice welcome area that makes them feel at-home and provides useful information for their stay. Find out the best restaurants in the area and leave a list for them (with phone numbers) in this area. Create a diverse yet brief list of fun things to do in the town the vacation property is in, let your guests know how long it will take to get to each place, whether or not they’ll need a car to get there, and what costs to expect. If the home is near a beach, leave simple instructions for getting there and insider information about the best spots to park.
Start Renting Your Vacation Home
Once you’ve fully prepared to provide a top-notch rental experience, you’re ready to welcome in your first guests! At the end of their stay, follow up with them for feedback that you can use to improve the vacation rental experience you provide for your next guests. Excellent customer service combined with a beautifully designed vacation property and modern-day amenities will help you achieve and maintain a steady stream of new guests to your vacation rental.