Your vacation property can do more for you than just provide you with a home away from home; it can also provide you with extra income.
This is achieved by turning it into a rental property. When you aren’t using it, other people can be, and you can derive an income from that.
There are several “online vacation rental marketplaces” — websites where people can list what they offer in a searchable database. What they offer can consist of anything from a spare couch to a private room to an entire home or condo.
Your vacation home property — and for the purpose of this article we’re going to assume it’s an actual home and not a spare bed! — may be just a couple hours away, or it may be all the way across country.
If it is more than halfway across country, or if it isn’t convenient for you to get to it every other week or so, then you have two options.
- You can hire a property management company to take care of all of the details of the property for you.
- You can handle all the issues regarding the property yourself, as a “remote” manager.
Each option has its own pros and cons.
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Property Management Company
Every major city across the country will have at least a handful of property management companies. You simply need to contact a few of them in your area and compare the services they provide and the amount they charge for those services. There are a variety of property management companies. Some will deal only with large apartment complexes, but others will deal with small commissions, such as a single vacation home.
It is important that you research each company thoroughly. You will be entrusting your property and potential income to them, so you need to be sure they can do the job you hire them to do!
A property management company will do everything for your home that you would do if you lived in the same city as your vacation home — they will not only ensure that all appliances and utilities in the home work properly, but arrange for any emergency repairs that might be needed.
They will hire a lawn service for you and someone to clear snow from the property in winter. Because you’ll be dealing with people who book your property through an online vacation rental marketplace, the property management company will not have to investigate any of your potential renters. (In the past, these companies would conduct research on potential renters for you.)
A property management company will charge you for all the services they provide, and so those are the pros and cons of using such a service. They will take all the hassle away from renting your property to vacationers. They may also be able to save you money on repairs since they probably have repair people on staff if they manage several properties. But since you will have to pay them a fee to manage your property, this will impact your bottom line to some extent.
Manage Your Property Remotely
Any property can be managed remotely in an efficient manner if you make thorough preparations to be able to do so.
1. Ensure that you can rent out your property.
Whether you are going to have your property managed by a company or are going to do it yourself, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your local governments (city, state, and homeowners, if any) will actually allow you to do so.
Although private people renting out vacation properties is growing in popularity, some communities are moving to prevent this practice because they feel it brings too much traffic to local neighborhoods. You will need to stay abreast of such local developments.
2. Prepare your property to be rented.
At this point, you need to ensure that your vacation property offers a safe and pleasant atmosphere for potential vacationers. All appliances should work properly, the HVAC system should work properly, and so on. Any blemishes to inside or outside walls should be repaired, there should be no cracks in sidewalks, and so on.
If you need to make any repairs at this point, keep a list of all the people and/or companies that you use to make repairs. You’ll want to use these same people (assuming they do good work) should any emergencies come up while guests are staying in your home.
3. Compile list of all repair people.
It’s better to know who to contact for any emergency before such an emergency occurs!
Make a list of all the potential repairs and services you might need, from lawn mowing and snow removal to plumbing, Roto-Rooting, and roof repair. You can investigate these businesses via the internet to see how long they’ve been in business and to see any reviews of their work.
Make sure you put this list in a prominent position in your vacation home — for example, affixed by a magnet to the refrigerator door — and that your potential renters know that they can call any of these people at any time if there is an emergency.
4. Provide your renters with your contact details.
While your potential renters will be able to contact you via the “online vacation rental marketplace” site, once they are actually in your home they will need to be able to contact you directly if there are any emergencies, so you’ll need to leave a phone number and email.
5. Employ a handy-person.
A handyman or woman is not the same as a property management company. This would just be someone you trust who would be available to meet your guests and hand over the keys to the home and take them back at the end of their stay.
If this handy-person or caretaker is able to do minor repairs, so much the better.
This person can also go into the home after your renters have left to ensure that there is no damage, which in turn will enable you to return a damage/cleaning deposit to your renters if all is well.
You will have to pay this individual a stipend, but it would typically be much less than if you were to hire a property management company.
Vacation homeowners: Do you use a property management company to look after your home, or do you manage yourself? Why?
Let me know with a comment!