I’m preparing to invest in a vacation property. It’s not for me. It’s going to be an income property to rent out to vacationers. I’m really excited about getting into this business, but I’m also very new to it. I’m doing my best to research all the ins and outs of rental properties, and as a part of that I thought I’d reach out to you, the experts! Experts, a major concern is keeping this property rented out (and making money) for as much of the year as possible. With relatively short stays, I’m concerned that the commitments I get will be too patchy and leave me on the hook for too many vacant weeks. What kind of advice can you offer?
Investing in real estate can be stressful and risky, but it can also be incredibly rewarding — and incredibly lucrative, too! We’re sure that, with the proper knowledge and careful decision-making, you’ll enjoy running your property and will get great profits for it.
Of course, to do that, you’ll need to rent out the property a sufficient number of weeks and months each year. So, to answer your question, we’re offering three big tips for keeping your vacation rental booked year-round.
Vary the rental terms
Most vacation rentals are rented by the week for a given price. You may already have some sense of what you hope to make each week off of your rental — but don’t treat that number as if it’s set in stone. You have the power to tweak the terms of your rental offering. After all, experimenting with pricing and supply is what you’d do with any business — and experts say the most successful vacation rental property owners treat their rentals as a business.
If you’re struggling to fill weeks, consider lowering your weekly rate. Adjust the weekly rates you offer at different points of the year. Remember, it doesn’t matter how much you’re asking if the property isn’t occupied.
You can also consider the length of the rental term. Though yours is a vacation-area property, it still may make sense to offer six-month or even full-year leases to qualified tenants. Some companies offer tenant screening free (along with other services), so becoming a more traditional sort of landlord might be easier than you think. That sort of rental property may offer more stability than a vacation-focused property available only for short-term rentals. Longer lease terms may also limit your time commitment by making cleaning and other maintenance issues come up less frequently.
Get an on-site manager
How much time are you planning to spend working on and maintaining this property? You may want to fill part of the property with an on-site manager. This depends, of course, on what sort of property you have. Your on-site manager should have separate living quarters from your renting guests. In Australia, landlords can even hold management rights sales and hand their property’s day-to-day operations over to a live-in manager. For the companies and individuals who sell off the management rights, this makes the property a more passive sort of investment. Passive can be good in real estate!
A properly managed property can give you peace of mind and save you money by helping you keep more of your own valuable time while being more sure of catching issues with the property — and fixing them — early. And a well-maintained property is more likely to be rented out every week of the year.
Invest in your listings
Ultimately, what you’re trying to do here is sell something: a week or a month or even a year in the comfort of this property that you own. And when you want to sell something, you need to practice good salesmanship, of course! That’s you need to take the listings very seriously.
Your property may be more beautiful, more functional, and more affordable to rent than others on its block or in its town, but nobody will know that unless you can find a way to communicate it effectively. Take some time to consider the best practices of real estate listings. Take well-lit photos of your space, using the right camera and standing in the right corner to show off the space, the windows, the doors, and all of the property’s other nice features. Put relevant keywords in your listings, but make sure they’re still readable and scannable: bullet points, simple sentences, and quality copywriting are musts. Finally, make sure that your listing is everywhere that it should be: online, in print, and (most important of all) in the right places online and in print!
If you take our advice, we’re sure that your property’s best features will stay elegant and be well-communicated to the right tenants, enabling you to sign those tenants on for the terms that make the most sense for you and your property. Good luck!