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As I have said many times before in my previous articles, owning a vacation home is like running a business. The expenses and the income must balance. If you are trying to find ways to cut expenses, one of the first things you could do is manage the property yourself. Here are a few tips for managing your own vacation home.
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5 Tips for Managing Your Own Vacation Home Rental
1. Find a Quality Housekeeper
Finding a top notch house keeper is the single most important thing you must do if you’re going to manage your own vacation home. After all, the housekeeper is going to report to you the condition of your property when you are not there.
You should be looking for someone who is great at cleaning houses, detail oriented, reliable, and resourceful. The housekeeper should report back to you after every guest about the condition of the house and potential problems you may need to address in the future.
2. Hire a Good Handyman
The second most important hire is a good handyman. You need to find someone who lives close to your property and is really trustworthy. If a guest calls with a complaint, your handyman is the one you should send over to the property to check everything out. If you have a pool or spa, you can usually find handymen who would be more than happy to keep the chemical level at a safe level for you. The going rate to pay someone for general pool upkeep is around $85 a month.
3. Hone Your Marketing
You will need to find places to market your vacation home where potential guest can find your house and reach out to you to rent it. The most popular websites are: VRBO (to learn more about how to rent your place and list for free on VRBO, click here), Homeaway (click here to list your place for free on HomeAway—only pay when you get a booking), and many communities have their own private websites. You should be on all these plus more. After all, a guest cannot rent your property if they don’t know about it.
4. Set Up Your Own Website
You should direct all potential guests to a website you created for your vacation home. Setting up a website is really inexpensive, and it has a lot of great benefits, too.
Fact Sheet: Many guest will call you and want to ask you a lot of questions about your property. To make things easier, you should come up with a fact sheet about your vacation home. On this fact sheet, it should answer any questions a potential guest might have, and you should be able to simply email this fact sheet over to a guest. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- You get the guest’s e-mail address, which you can use to stay in touch with them not only this year but in the years to come, and
- It saves you time from having to sit on the phone and answer the same questions over and over again.
Online Payments: Your website should be set up to take online payments. This will make your job much easier, as most homeowners charge a non-refundable deposit, and then 30 or 45 days prior to the arrival, the remaining balance is due. By setting up online payments, you can have your payment system track when the remaining balances are due and go ahead and automatically charge the guest.
5. Come Up With a Pricing Strategy
If you are going to manage and market your own vacation home, you should come up with a strategy to maximize your nightly income. The longer you own your property, the easier this becomes, but to start off during the really high seasons, you should have your nightly prices at the upper end as compared to other comparable properties. During low season you should do just the opposite and be near the lower end. A pricing strategy is really simple: when there are more guests coming to your area than there are vacation homes, you should be near the upper end of the pricing scale, and when there are fewer guests, you should be near the lower end of the nightly rates.
Managing and marketing your own vacation home is not hard, but it is time consuming. Remember, the guests are going to want to talk to you about your property before they rent, they will call you with many questions after they have paid the deposit, and they will definitely call you if they have a problem while they are staying in your house. You cannot put these calls off until after 5 p.m.; you will need to be able to take calls and handle situations during normal business hours.
I suggest anybody who is looking to manage their own vacation home to ease into it by having a property manager just look after the property and taking care of the guests while they are in town. This way you can do just the marketing of the property and concentrate solely on getting guests to stay in the house. Once you have the marketing under control, then you might expand your roll and handle all the customer service issues as well.
Do you have experience managing your vacation property rental? What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Leave a comment below!