Vacation Home Owners Share Advice

by : Dena Davis



By far, the most helpful information you'll ever receive about managing a vacation home, is from other home owners who have dealt with renting or maintaining a second home. The advice they share comes from experience, allowing you to benefit from their mistakes as well as their successes. Here are some comments on typical rental concerns as expressed by other landlords.

Hot Tub Pros And Cons:

- It may be an added perk for your guests, but it is one more thing that needs to be cleaned, maintained and may contribute to higher utility bills. It also presents a possible hazard, and you may want your guests to sign a waiver before using.

Management Tips:

- Rent for the longest minimum period you can arrange for. The faster your turnovers, the more expensive and time consuming your business is to run.

- If you're concerned about liability, you may consider forming a separate LLC for your rental. In the event of a costly lawsuit, your personal financial assets won't be at risk. You will require commercial property insurance if you go this route.

Think it Through:

- Examine your goals before you purchase a second home. If you are looking strictly for an investment, then a ski property is not the best choice. Rentals fluctuate with the weather and there is considerable wear and tear on your investment.

Guests:

- Try to stick to the "over 30" crowd and avoid proms, stags and wedding parties.

- Never rent to smokers.

- Allowing pets is a personal choice. It can increase the maintenance, but it can also increase the amount of rentals.

- Instead of handing out keys, use a combination lock and provide a unique combination to your guests.

- The best guests are the return customers who come back year after year and tell all their friends - show your gratitude by offering them a discount.

Marketing:

- Use web-based marketing sites such as Homestead or A1 Vacations for cheap online advertising. Collect payments from PayPal - its quick, easy, and reduces the amount of time you have to hold bookings while awaiting payment.

- Recommend resources in your community for day trips, interesting shops or restaurants. They'll return the favor when one of their customers is looking for a place to stay.

Maintenance:

- Hire a local cleaning person by the hour or for 5 - 10% of the rent. In fact, get a team of local contractors who can swoop in at a moment's notice to deal with emergencies (plumbing leaks, electrical, etc.)

- Ask your guests to providing a meter reading upon arrival and departure. It makes them feel more responsible and leads to better energy saving habits.

- Septic tanks are tough on rentals. It's difficult to communicate to your guests that anything other than toilet paper can create a huge, costly back-up in the septic bed. Leave easy-to-read instructions describing acceptable septic tank practices for your guests.

- Property management companies are convenient, but they eat away at your profit and never keep the place as clean as you would.