The links to third-party products and services on this page are affiliate links, meaning that BiggerPockets may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.
Let’s say that your vacation home is in Orlando, Florida. Let’s also say that you want to rent it out to people during those months of the year when you won’t be using it.
Orlando is a very popular vacation destination (we don’t need to tell you that). So how can you ensure that people looking for the best home vacation rental will choose your property over all the competition?
Download Your FREE Rental Application Form!
It may seem like a small thing, but having a solid rental application is the first step in finding great tenants. Since BiggerPockets is all about helping you succeed in real estate investing, we’ve put together a complimentary Rental Application for you to use. Download it today and go find some great tenants!
There’s Room for Competition
First, do not despair about finding steady renters for your vacation home. Since Orlando is such a popular destination, there will always be someone needing a place to stay. But you want someone to choose your property first, not as a last resort!
You also want them to pay you a reasonable rent so that you can make a profit out of your property — and this is possible if you add some features to your home that your competitors don’t offer. (Remember, you are competing against other people renting out their vacation homes, as well as hotels and motels!)
5 Vacation Rental Upgrades That’ll Wow Your Guests
Add curb appeal.
“Curb appeal” is a term real estate agents use when talking about homes that people are trying to sell. But the same principle holds true when you are trying to encourage potential guests to rent your property by sharing dozens of attractive photos on the various vacation rental marketplace websites such as FlipKey, Homeaway (click here to list your place for free on HomeAway—only pay when you get a booking), or VRBO (to learn more about how to rent your place and list for free on VRBO, click here). It is even more imperative should you create videos of your property for your YouTube marketing channel and for your website (which you should have in addition to your listings on the marketplace websites).
If your home has bright paint or clean siding, there’s no real need to improve, but if the paint has faded and is peeling, consider having the whole house repainted in a cheerful color.
People in search of a new home might not be persuaded by an extensive flower garden — they might just like a lawn that they have to mow! But your renters will quite likely find it very attractive. Boast of it as a romantic setting for an evening’s outdoor dinner in your description of the home, for example.
Have a lawn service take care of weeding, mowing, and watering. If your exterior property is so arranged that there’s no mowing needed (you’ve had an extensive rock garden installed, for example), make sure that you automatic sprinklers coming on for the flowers.
If you’ve got a pool — either in-ground or above-ground — in your backyard, this could be a definite plus. Just make sure that there are plenty of safety devices available and large signs encouraging parents to keep an eye on their young children. And if you have a pool, you must have your handyperson maintain it properly.
A private pool is a definite attraction for people coming to nice, sunny, hot Orlando. But the safety of your guests should always be paramount. You’ll also want to make sure your guests sign a waiver.
Provide unexpected amenities.
Another item you can provide for your guests at no additional charge (except for a deposit) may be bicycles — or even kites! Consider providing the kind of sports equipment your guests can use that will enhance their stay at your property. If you’re going to go with bikes, make sure your guests sign a waiver absolving you of any responsibility should they be harmed while riding the bike. Have a lawyer look at the paperwork to make sure it’s ironclad with unambiguous wording!
Consider a home security system.
If you don’t already have a home security system for your vacation home, consider having one installed. Not only will this system help to keep your home safe, but your guests will feel more secure — even if the home is located in the poshest of locations!
Interview security system providers to ensure you get the best deal for the best company. As with all things, don’t sacrifice quality for price. If you can get a security system and a fire alarm system hooked together, you may save money on the package. The security system needs to be easy to use so that your guests won’t have a problem entering and leaving the home.
For added security, make sure the home is well lit. Line every path with solar-powered stake lights, and install motion sensor lights by the front door, side door, back door, and garage. Home and garden stores sell these solar-powered stake lights that come in a variety of designs and heights.
Look into home automation.
There are other upgrades to your vacation home you can make that you can boast about in your descriptive text, which will also save you money in the long run.
For example, how many guests think they’ve turned the water off in the sink but while distracted forget and leave it on all night? That’s a lot of water going down the drain — and a lot of money added on to your water bill. By installing motion-activated faucets, your guests can use just the amount of water they need, and the water will automatically turn off after a few seconds.
It’s possible today to convert your home into a “smart home.” A “smart thermostat,” for example, allows you to digitally set the temperature in your home, so the heating or air conditioning comes on a certain time and turns off at a specific time.
There’s so many things that someone can do these days with a remote control, just sitting in a chair — assuming you purchase the upgrades. This can include raising and lowering shades, turning gas fireplaces on and off, and turning on and off lights, all with the touch of a button.
Be sure to list all these amenities in the description of your property!
If you’ve got a garage, something that everyone expects is an automatic garage door opener. But you may as well mention that in your text as well.
Depending on where you home is located, you will want to have wireless internet available. Obviously, if you have a cabin in the woods that people go to for solitude, you may not be able to have wifi, but for any other location, it really is a must.
Vacation rental owners: What would you add to this list? If you’re a guest of vacation homes, what upgrades do you care about most?
Leave your comments below!