Renting Out Your Property Tips

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Why rent out your vacation home?

Why Rent Your Vacation Home?

Vacation homes are gaining popularity every year. Maybe you are a Baby Boomer nearing retirement and considering a home in a dream location. Maybe you inherited a family vacation home that you want to keep, but would like to off-set the expenses and supplement income. Maybe you want investment property that you can rent while waiting for property values to increase for future resell. These are just a few scenarios that entice real estate owners to put their property on the vacation rentals by owner market.

There are also tax advantages to vacation property rentals. Most vacation homeowners qualify for the same tax benefits traditional property landlords enjoy. Some of the factors to research when considering renting your vacation home include:

How often do you want to use your vacation home? Personal use is limited when claiming rental deductions on your income tax.

How often do you want to rent your vacation home?

How will you get the word out about your vacation rental?

How will you handle the logistics of inquiries, bookings, cleaning, maintenance and rental problems?

It pays to consult an attorney specializing in real estate rentals and a certified professional accountant to ensure that you reap the rewards and minimize the risks of rental property ownership.

What are the best sites to advertise holiday villa rental on?

Web Sites to Advertise Holiday Villa Rentals

You may be able to lead a horse to water but you can't force it down his throat if he's not thirsty. The same thing goes for you holiday vacation rental—you might succeed in leading potential renters to your advertising website but if you don't succeed in triggering their appetite for your property, they're not going to bite at it.

Loading your site with flattering photos and descriptions of your holiday rental, although a great idea, often isn't enough to make it irresistible. In addition, try writing articles about exciting things in the area surrounding your property. Rave about the best local restaurants, bars and hot spots, tell stories about landmarks and historical aspects, gush about views any natural beauty. In other words, write articles to appeal to as many different audiences as possible. Once you have completed your articles, have them published in vacation and travel e-zines with the author link (or links embedded in the text) leading back to your site. You'll be amazed at how much more traffic you will get on your site!

How do I make better use of my holiday rental web site?

Enhancing a Holiday Rental Web Site

Give your vacation rental a proper photo shoot. If you want to rent out your place you'll want to make it appealing to potential renters. Depending on the location of your rental, there's a good chance that renters will shop online for a place to stay rather than traveling to their holiday destination beforehand to find one. Advertise your property on a web site and take flattering pictures of your property that will make it irresistible. Here are some tips that will help make your holiday rental shine like a star in photos:

• Regardless of the holiday, take pictures on sunny days
• To give a homely glow to a room, turn on standing lights/wall lights
• If you have a fireplace – light it
• Take pictures of nice furniture and impressive décor
• Take pictures of beautiful windows or balconies with views
• Don't take pictures of people in your condo—you want the renters to feel like this could be a home to them, not someone else's property

Ideas to bring back holiday renters?

Ideas to Rebook Holiday Rentals

Lure your renters back in again and again. If you make your renters feel special, they're more likely to rent your property again. Try these methods:

• Produce warm feelings by leaving a handwritten note such as “something to remember your stay with us”
• Send a card with your house on it, encouraging past renters to create more fond holiday memories
• Contact previous renters reminding them how much they enjoyed their last holiday stay
• Send email at specific holiday times of the year (New Years, spring vacation, Christmas) reminding renters that the property is available

How do I prepare my home for rental?

Preparing your Vacation Home for Renting Out

Before you rent out your vacation home for the first time, you should take some steps to prepare your home. Firstly, you should remove all the valuables from your home that can't be replaced. For example, if you have a family heirloom that is one of a kind, you shouldn't keep that in a rental property.

Secondly, you should go around the house and note any existing damage. Be thorough when completing this step because you will need this information later if there is a dispute. Take as many picture as possible.

Next, you should make sure all your home maintenance needs are up to date. You don't want anything to go wrong maintenance wise when you have renters in your home. Also make sure that all your insurance is up to date in case anything goes wrong.

Finally, you should be prepared to keep good records and logs of the renters. Vacation homes for rent can be rented dozens of times per year, so you need to know who was at the home and for how long. Be overly prepared to keep meticulous records. Some beach vacation rentals by owner have as many as 75 renters each year!

How do I go about renting out my vacation home?

Steps to Renting Out your Vacation Home

Vacation rental homes can be a great way to make money if you know the proper steps to successfully renting out your vacation home. For rent by owner vacation rentals don't rent themselves. However, with a little work, you can reap rewards for a long time!

1) Prepare your vacation home. You need to make sure your vacation home is clean, all the maintenance is up to date and all pre-existing damages are noted. Don't skip this step or else that can cause problems down the line.

2) Figure out your asking price. The easiest way to do so is to look at other vacation homes in the same area. By using those prices as a basis, you should be able to come up with a price for your property.

3) Place your listing on the website. Once you place your listing, potential renters will start to contact you.

4) Handpick the people you want to rent to. Don't feel obligated to rent your property to everyone who shows interests. It's your right to be choosey.

5) Be ready to adjust your asking price as time goes on. For example, some Orlando vacation rentals by owner saw the going rate for vacation homes in the area double in as little as one year!

How can I go about determining the price for my rental property

Determining the Rental Price for your Property

When renting out your rental property, perhaps the biggest decision you have to make is how much you are going to charge. If you are new to the process, it can seem like a daunting task to figure out exactly how much you should ask for.

The first thing you should understand is that you as the owner are able to change the asking price whenever you want. If your property becomes sought after, you can raise the price to take advantage. If you are having difficulties finding quality renters, you can lower your asking price.

To begin the process of determining a fair rental price for your property, you should look at other vacation homes for rent in the same area. That'll give you a good idea of what to ask for.

When you start off, you should probably err to asking for too much. You can always lower the price later. If you ask for too little right off the bat, you may get swamped with renters who are realize that you undercharged.

Once you get the hang of it, rent by owner vacation rentals are actually fun to manage. It requires a bit of hands-on work, but the work is easy to learn and doesn't take much time.

What are the most sought after vacation destinations?

Most Sought After Vacation Destinations

With so many vacation destinations all over the world, it's difficult to figure out which destinations are the most sought after. Which places can you expect to have plenty of interested renters for a vacation home?

With millions of people visiting Hawaii each year, Hawaii vacation rentals by owner are in extremely high demand. More and more people who visit Hawaii prefer vacation rentals over more tradition lodging options such as hotels and resorts.

If you own a vacation home in Florida, you should really rent your vacation home. The market for Florida vacation rentals by owner is through the roof. In a lot of parts of the state, the demand far outweighs the supply.

More than ever, Americans are traveling to Europe for their vacation. Virtually every European country has visitors from the United States who are on vacation.

Las Vegas
You might not think of Las Vegas as a big market for vacation rentals but the market in Vegas is growing at an amazing rate. If you own a second home in Vegas, you should be able to make good money if you decide to rent it out.

Beachfront Properties
If you own property on the beach, chances are you can easily find renters for your property. Especially for spring breakers, beaches around the world are seeing more people than in past years.

Why should I use

Reasons to Use the Service

The service is the smartest choice if you are renting your vacation home. Why should you use the service?

  • Easy: All you have to do is enter your contact information, the details of your rental property and you are ready to go.
  • Handpick Renters: Just because someone is willing to pay doesn't mean you have to select the person. You can speak with prospective renters via email or phone to figure out if they are right for you.
  • Low Cost: For less than $150 per year (except for Florida vacation rentals by owner), you can list your vacation home on the website. You no longer have to pay huge amounts of money for the chance of landing a couple renters.
  • Money Back Guarantee: You have thirty days to test out the service. If you aren't satisfied for any reason, you will be given a full refund. With this money back guarantee, you literally have nothing to lose.
  • No Hidden Fees: The only money you pay is your listing fee. That's it! Other companies will charge you a listing fee and then will add additional fees down the line when listing vacation rental homes. That's not the case with

How can you get more repeat renters and referrals from satisfied guests?

Encouraging Return Guests and Getting Referrals

One of the oldest marketing truisms is that business success depends on repeat customers and referrals from delighted customers. This is also true in the world of vacation home rentals.

Many vacation home renters become annual guests that you can count on to return to your property year after year. Research also shows that repeat renters are the guests you can count on to respect and care for your vacation home.

  • Get to know your renters. Email is a great resource, but impersonal. Whenever possible, talk with prospective guests before their stay to answer questions and offer tips.
  • Contact guests during their stay to ensure satisfaction.
  • Send them a thank-you card immediately after their stay.
  • Maintain a database of previous guests and send holiday greetings or a birthday card.
  • Email “previous guests only” offers from time to time.
  • Acknowledge returning guests with a small gift of appreciation.
When it comes to referrals, statistics show that even sales professional neglect to ask for referrals from satisfied customers 95% of the time. Yet, referrals are of the most powerful marketing tools. Provide on-site information about your vacation home rentals and encourage guests to share them with their friends. Offer incentives for referrals such as a discount on future rentals for referrals.

How can you attract more guests to your vacation home rental after the peak season?

Attracting Off-Season Vacation Guests

Peak or high season vacation rental rates are the most profitable times for vacation rentals. In fact, many vacation rentals by owner are able to pay annual rental expenses and clear a healthy profit during a few months of peak season. A three-bedroom condo may rent for $3,000 a week during peak season in Florida, whereas off-season the going rate may only be $1800 per month.

When off-season rolls around, don't give up your marketing efforts. Update your Website directory listings with seasonal appeals like photographs of beautiful fall foliage or snow-capped mountains and tips on seasonal local events. Decorate your vacation home rentals with seasonal touches such as a fall wreath or Christmas tree. If you don't have a gas fireplace, stock firewood for your guests.

Check out your competition. What are they offering to entice off-season rentals? Match them and go the extra mile. Offer off-season promotions and special deals. Highlight additional off-season savings at area attractions and restaurants. Smart planning and a little extra effort can turn off-season home rentals into a healthy addition to your annual bottom line of your vacation rental.

How can you encourage guests to take better care of your vacation rental home?

Improving Vacation Home Care

There are horror stories about property abuse by vacation renters. But there several things you can do to encourage better property care from your vacation home renters and preventive maintenance to improve the daily wear and tear on your home.

Get a head start during renovation and decorating, or whenever refurbishing is needed. Rather than selecting the least expensive, lowest-grade appliances and furnishings, wall and floor covering, choosing high or commercial grade choices that are tough and easy-care will pay-off in the long run. For instance, a self-cleaning oven is a must. And, in Florida beach vacation homes, tile floors stand the test of time and sand better than carpet.

Keep a reliable handyman on-call for emergency repairs. Stock basic home repair tools to encourage guests to solve their own small problems. No vacation home rental should be without a plunger, a screwdriver, mop, broom and flashlights. A file of owner's manuals for appliances and electronics reduces frustration and encourages guests to use them properly. Don't neglect preventive maintenance. A smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguishers are musts.

Repeat rentals and referrals will suffer when property begins to look worn and tired or if it is not properly cleaned. Most vacation rental owners schedule some “downtime” for repairs and touch-up after each season.

Finally, ensure that your rental agreement is comprehensive in addressing damage deposits, especially if you are renting to families with children or pets. Encourage guests to bring any problems to your attention and respond with urgency.

How can you use small touches to add big appeal to your vacation home rental?

Little Things Mean a Lot in Vacation Home Rentals

Once your vacation home is fully-furnished spend a “little extra for little things” that pay big returns in vacation home repeat rentals and referrals. Examples of little touches that never fail to impress include:

  • A folder of area guides, maps, menus and discount coupons.
  • A basket of microwave popcorn and granola bars.
  • A first-day supply of coffee and hot tea.
  • A collection of DVDs and CDs or coupons for a free local rental.
  • A bookshelf with novels, paperbacks and guidebooks.
  • A list of emergency numbers.
  • Sample sizes of bath amenities.
  • A first aid kit.
Maintain a checklist of extras and arrange for restocking with your cleaning service.

How can you make your vacation home more appealing?

Enhance Your Vacation Home

Vacation home renters want all the comforts of home…and more! If you're the owner of a vacation rental, it pays to invest in furnishing your rental with not only the basics, but with luxury touches not found in the average home. Most vacation rentals include the usual major kitchen appliances, but what about the many extras like a set of bar tools, a coffee grinder, a blender or waffle maker? Bedrooms and baths offer great opportunities to stand out from the masses. Picture a bed draped with romantic netting, high-count linens and piled high with cushy pillows. Stock the bathroom with large fluffy towels, decorator touches and a welcome set of upscale bath amenities. Don't forget the outdoors! A gas grill on the patio and an outdoor dining area around a pool or hot tub always draw praise from your guests. And, don't forget to look for ways to make your vacation home more kid-friendly and kid-proof, and more accessible to physically-challenged guests.

Study decorating and outdoor landscaping magazines for ideas that would make you say “WOW” in a vacation home. Ask your guests for suggestions or improvements that would add value to future stays.

How can you use photographs to market your vacation rental home?

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Photographs add instant appeal to properties. Most vacation home renters hesitate to inquire about property not marketed with photographs. Give your vacation rental a proper photo shoot and tempt prospective guests with flattering photographs.

  • Vacation rental photographs should include outside and inside views of your home.
  • Take photographs outside on a sunny day during different seasons. If you have a ski rental, be sure that your photographs include snow scenes.
  • For a warm and cozy interior look, light a fire in the fireplace; turn on lights and open curtains; place fresh flowers on tables or a bowl of fresh fruit on a kitchen counter.
  • Photograph views from the windows of living areas and from balconies or patios. If you have a beach rental, catch the surf rolling in on a sunny day when the beach is not crowded.
  • Include photographs of impressive décor such as a gourmet kitchen, master bath with garden tub/Jacuzzi or high-tech entertainment center.
  • Don't take pictures of people in your condo. Let renters imagine a home for themselves, not someone else.

How can you make your vacation home rental listing stand out?

Enhance Rental Property Listings

The Internet has revolutionized vacation rental marketing. Competition for rentals is stiff as thousands of new vacation rentals by owner pop up online every week. It is important to stand out from the crowd. It pays to do your homework and know your competition. Spend some time online searching vacation rentals similar to your property. Note what appeals to you and what turns you off.

  • Choose words that appeal and get results when describing your vacation rental. Avoid over-used words like “big, beautiful and best.” Marketing experts suggest using words that appeal to prospective guests' basic needs and emotions like: clean, cozy, classic, traditional, luxurious, spacious, private, romantic, inviting and safe/secure. Of course, everyone's favorite word is “free.” What can you offer of value to prospective guests that is free?
  • Pin-point one-of-a-kind or unique aspects of your vacation home.
  • Make it easy for prospective guests to contact you with questions or concerns and respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. A delay of days or even hours in responding to inquiries usually results in lost rentals.
Continue on for tips on how to add instant appeal to your vacation rentals with photographs.

How can you get the word out about your vacation rental home?

Marketing Your Vacation Home Rental

There are several avenues for marketing vacation rentals by owner. You can list your property with a local real estate management company. However, you will have to give up 20%-40% of rental fees to the management company. You can create your own vacation rental Website. However, unless you are a Webmaster, you will have to pay someone to create and maintain your site and unless you also pay a Web marketing company to draw traffic to your site, you will find the world does not beat a path just because you are “on the Internet.” Or, you can list your vacation rental by owner with one or more professional online vacation rentals directories.

To find a vacation rental directory, search online for “vacation rental directories” or “vacation rentals by owner.” Look for vacation rental directory and rental sites that:

Charge an annual fee rather than a rental percentage.

Offer discounts for multiple property listings.

Are user-friendly for owners and prospective renters.

Allow 24/7 changes and ability to upload property photos.

Include availability calendars.

Allow contact with prospective renters by Email and telephone.

Offer references from current vacation home owners.

Feature page view and Email tracking statistics.

Provide spam protection.

Allow you to test the market with a free trial listing and money back trial period guarantee.

Successful, long-time vacation property owners advise listing vacation rentals by owner with at least three diverse online directories for maximum exposure.

How can you avoid mistakes in renting your vacation home?

Common Mistakes in Renting Vacation Homes

The most common mistakes made by vacation rentals by owner are:

  • Not having a financial “cushion” to handle vacancy periods and property up-keep.
  • Neglecting to maintain property in perfect condition for peak rental cycles.
  • Not hiring reliable cleaning and maintenance professionals.
  • Failing to research online property listing opportunities.
  • Not researching rental rates and under-pricing or over-pricing rentals.
  • Using a poorly written rental agreement.
  • Failing to carry sufficient homeowners/liability insurance.
  • Underestimating the importance of rental amenities and property extras.
  • Neglecting follow-up with renters.
Do your homework. Comprehensive research and attention to detail help property owners avoid mistakes and maintain successful rental track records.

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Lynne Christen
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