Vacation Properties

11 Replies

Are there any investors out there who would like to share insight on how they got their Vacation Property portfolio rolling. I am looking for big picture thought process, recommendations on books, blogs etc, so that when I'm at that point in my business I will be educated.

Go!

@Zachary Smith  Welcome to BP! You've come to the right place to find information. There are a lot of people on here that have vacation rentals. Here's a search I did to get you started. Vacation Rentals and Vacation Rental Podcasts

Feel free to message any of those that are in the business and ask questions too. Good luck. Have fun!  

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We own 5 vacation condos in 3 different states.  We did not start out saying that we wanted a portfolio of vacation rentals but I am sure we will buy more as we find them.  We look for places where we like to stay.  When they come available at our price we pounce.

We manage some ourselves and have others managed.  We actually do better with the self-managed ones.  We use VRBO.com.

When we rent a place we try to get to know as many owners, managers, maintenance people as we can.  We learn valuable information that way.

Good Luck.

Bill

Hi Zachary, 

Here are some resources I find helpful for vacation rental advice: 

Book: How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner by Christine Karpinski 

Blog: Matt Landau's Vacation Rental Blog (he's funny too) http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/help-do...

Forum: HomeAway.com owner forums have lots of great advice

Sounds as though you are interested in multiple properties. Here is some advice from my own experience: 

- get them close to each other so you can share resources (housekeepers, repair guys, lawn care). If you need to use a property mgr/rental agent, I'd suggest finding a reliable one first and then choosing your area to invest. There is a LOT of detail that goes into weekly rentals, if you are not doing it yourself you need very reliable help. Not easy to find. 

- get them in an area that you can visit regularly, stay in each one yourself every now and again.

- vacation renters expect an immaculate home, new construction or good renovations are necessary. Trying to make $ first and renovate next will build bad reviews which is a killer

- if you are relying on seasonal rentals be sure the numbers make sense, and what is your plan for the off season? Keep in mind you will be paying for all furnishings, utilities, maintenance and yard work year round.

- I own VR properties and also manage the reservations for other peoples VR properties, and can tell you responding to inquiries can be a full time, 7 day a week job. Be available or hire someone who will be dedicated to your properties reservations.

- peruse listings on Flipkey, HomeAway, VRBO, Vacationrentals and Airbnb in the areas you are considering. Pick a couple listings that look similar to what you are thinking of doing, follow their calendars throughout the year and see how booked they get. Read Reviews!

- make sure weekly rentals are legal in the area you are considering - many towns are banning them or putting on a 30 day minimum. 

- get specific vacation rental insurance, otherwise a claim could be denied - try CBIZ 

- we have seasonal lake and mountain rentals (summer is peak). We get fully booked spring through fall which is all we need to make us happy. The icing on the cake is that many winter weekends get booked by lowering rates, having great photos, houses have great views and nice interiors so the "in the house" experience is nice. Good reviews are key to off season rentals also. 

You can see ours here, they are different price points which also helps...if a guest says one is over their budget, we refer them to another: 

Piseco Lake Cabin

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3165887

Lake Algonquin

Thank you @Karen Margrave   thank you for the podcast and referral info! Deff will follow up

@Bill Jacobsen  That is my big picture plan. Is to find place I enjoy and to make money from the property as well. How did you find yourself purchasing your first property? Any creative ways of financing or were you just in the position to purchase in a traditional manner

@Maura Paler  Thank you for the wealth of information and resources. I saw that book on Amazon, will definitely be picking it up! I like your multiple option process, sort of like Top down selling. Thanks I will surely reach out again as I'm learning more.

I'm still chewing on a lot of that information shared already. After talking with good friend, @Joe Fairless  he told me about some of his associates using Air BnB (https://www.airbnb.com). Has any one used this and how has it affected this area of your business?

Originally posted by @Maura Paler :

Hi Zachary, 

Here are some resources I find helpful for vacation rental advice: 

Book: How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner by Christine Karpinski 

Blog: Matt Landau's Vacation Rental Blog (he's funny too) http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/help-do...

Forum: HomeAway.com owner forums have lots of great advice

Sounds as though you are interested in multiple properties. Here is some advice from my own experience: 

- get them close to each other so you can share resources (housekeepers, repair guys, lawn care). If you need to use a property mgr/rental agent, I'd suggest finding a reliable one first and then choosing your area to invest. There is a LOT of detail that goes into weekly rentals, if you are not doing it yourself you need very reliable help. Not easy to find. 

- get them in an area that you can visit regularly, stay in each one yourself every now and again.

- vacation renters expect an immaculate home, new construction or good renovations are necessary. Trying to make $ first and renovate next will build bad reviews which is a killer

- if you are relying on seasonal rentals be sure the numbers make sense, and what is your plan for the off season? Keep in mind you will be paying for all furnishings, utilities, maintenance and yard work year round.

- I own VR properties and also manage the reservations for other peoples VR properties, and can tell you responding to inquiries can be a full time, 7 day a week job. Be available or hire someone who will be dedicated to your properties reservations.

- peruse listings on Flipkey, HomeAway, VRBO, Vacationrentals and Airbnb in the areas you are considering. Pick a couple listings that look similar to what you are thinking of doing, follow their calendars throughout the year and see how booked they get. Read Reviews!

- make sure weekly rentals are legal in the area you are considering - many towns are banning them or putting on a 30 day minimum. 

- get specific vacation rental insurance, otherwise a claim could be denied - try CBIZ 

- we have seasonal lake and mountain rentals (summer is peak). We get fully booked spring through fall which is all we need to make us happy. The icing on the cake is that many winter weekends get booked by lowering rates, having great photos, houses have great views and nice interiors so the "in the house" experience is nice. Good reviews are key to off season rentals also. 

You can see ours here, they are different price points which also helps...if a guest says one is over their budget, we refer them to another: 

Piseco Lake Cabin

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3165887

Lake Algonquin “Trailer Liscious”

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p189448

Lake Algonquin Farmhouse

http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p353641

@Maura Paler.  These are really valuable points.  Thanks for posting these.  Do you have any idea what sort of cost the property management would be?

We are looking in the Red River Gorge KY and Gatlinburg TN areas. We're trying to compare the ROI and are just learning about the property management part of it. We will be utilizing the ones currently in use and this will figure in our decision.

Hi Zachary! I'd be happy to chat about resources. I'm not a property manager or vendor, but I work in the industry on outright rentals (where managers pay a guaranteed amount to the homeowner). One of the fastest and easiest ways to learn is just by going to vacation rental industry conferences. I just returned from VRMA in New Orleans, but the HomeAway SummitsRezfest, and Vacation Rental World Summit conferences are all really great ways to network and learn more. 

As far as blogs go, here are some of my favorites:

  • rented.: This is my company's blog, so of course, it's one of my favorites. ;)  If you have any articles you'd like to see on there, let me know, and I'm happy to put something together!
  • Short Term Rental Advocacy Center: They have a lot of current information on short term rental regulations.
  • VRMA blog: Current information and lots on industry trends
  • AVROA: The American Vacation Rental Owners' Association
  • Rentals United blog: Rentals United is a channel manager, but they have a fantastic blog on managing your vacation rental.
  • Cottage Blogger

To echo @Maura Paler , Matt Landau has a great blog! Definitely worth a follow. 

HomeAway just has higher fees then Airbnb.  Both are easy to use just that each one of them had their own quarks about them . If you try booking.com it is up to you on getting the money from the client yourself and then you need to pay  booking.com the Commission not convenient like home away & Airbnb).