Turning your home into a short-term vacation rental can have many financial benefits, such as providing a source of income and helping pay off the home mortgage. To reap the most financial gain from your vacation home, it is important to understand that the residence will likely be most profitable during peak travel to the area where the home is located. Additionally, many steps must be taken to ensure your home is ready to be rented by vacationers.
First, you will need to decide how you will rent your home. You can handle the bookings and reservations on your own, using an online service, or you can hire a property management service. Finding a trusted property management company to handle the rentals of your property can help with the stress of booking reservations. Property management companies often handle the cleaning service after guests have left, but they usually take a percentage of the rental profit. If you decide you would like to handle reservations on your own, websites such as Airbnb.com, VRBO.com and HomeAway.com are all great resources. Before you begin the rental process, make sure you check with the local zoning laws to ensure that short-term rentals are allowed. Also check with your insurance company and HOA about any regulations, as each state has different rules about vacation property rentals. Many insurance companies will have you draft a special contract for renters, to ensure the safety of your property and the guests.
If you choose to rent the property on your own, you will need to find a cleaner and — depending on your home’s exterior — a landscaper. It is important to conduct interviews to find an experienced cleaning service and landscaping service that you can trust. In most cases, guests will pay the cleaning fee as part of their reservation fee. The landscaping cost will most often be covered by you, the homeowner, unless it is covered in your HOA dues. It is also important to have a refundable deposit to cover any damages. If there are damages to the property after a guest has checked out, the fee will be used to repair the damages instead of refunded to the renter.
With many guests coming in from out of state, you will likely want your rental property to be completely turn-key. Stock the home with necessary linens, kitchen supplies and paper products, and make sure all appliances are in working condition. Provide guests with a detailed description of your property as well as a set of house rules. When you write the description, make note of features — such as a pool or great views — that make your property special. For the best benefit, take quality photos for your property listing. To learn what you can improve about your property, ask for feedback from guests who have stayed.
Click here for a list of mistakes to avoid with vacation homes.