Tips for owning a Vacation Rental home
January 4, 2016 | Neil Brosnahan
So you’ve been vacationing here in Bethany Beach for years and are tired of renting.  You feel comfortable about your finances and are looking to invest here at the Beach.  If you are like me you have spent countless hours weighing the pros and cons of finally owning a beach home. It is a huge decision that you have contemplated for years and now is the time to make the plunge.  One of the things that has triggered your acceptance and willingness to move forward is looking back at all the money that you have personally spent on renting out someone else’s home.  It is factored into your decision that you would like to in addition have your own getaway, you will make your home available to rent to others.  If you are in that position here are some helpful tips on making it a dream not a nightmare.
As you have undoubtedly noticed the rental business here at the beach is all about location and amenities.  Homes here at the beach that tend to have high occupancy rates generally have all the greatest amenities and are within walking distance to the beach.  If it is not in your budget to purchase a home within walking distance of the ocean it is important to find communities that have great amenities such as pool, clubhouse, tennis, and a beach shuttle.  Once you have pinpointed your home location there are several things that you make sure that you have and offer to keep your home at maximum occupancy.  There are some simple necessities as well as some small added perks that will ensure that guest will compliment your home and recommend to their friends and family.  A large portion of your rentals will come from repeat customers and referrals.  So making sure that your guest are happy and comfortable will pay off in the end.
  • Cable TV in a main living area and all the bedrooms.  You do not have to have the ultimate cable package with all the premium channels just basic cable will do.  It should be in all the bedrooms since most families on vacation need a break from everyone else sometimes.  A quick retreat to the bedroom for some veg time in front of the tube may be just what someone needs to relax.  There should be at least one TV that has a DVD player.  It’s a nice amenity that nowadays is a small investment.  You may also want to consider adding an x box or gaming system as well.  A small investment in a gaming system advertised on your vacation home site may just be the factor that separates your home from the neighbors’ rental. 
  • A few beach chairs for guest use.  They do not have to be teak chairs with the newest sumbrella cushions.  The collapsible ones with that can easily be toted to the beach are a nice amenity that people will remember. 
  •  Internet access with Wi-Fi.  In today’s day and age this is a must have.  If your guest can’t easily connect and share photos of their vacation they will not come back.  A reliable internet service that allows guest to check email, update Facebook, and browse for area attractions will be invaluable. 
  • A good website with great photos.  As with any marketing it is important to be able to see what the house and neighborhood has to offer.  If you are serious about renting the home it is always best to hire someone to professionally take the photos.  If you ask your Realtor they more than likely know of a good photographer who can get the job done with quality work and relatively inexpensively.
  • A barbecue grill.  As long as the community allows them I would say this is a must have.  There is nothing like being able to grill outside during a nice summer evening. 
  • A few bikes for guest to use.  At the end of the season most of the bike rental places sell off their older models and you can get a pretty good deal on a beach cruiser.  This is not a must have but it is a cheap investment that will set your place apart from the other homes in the area. 
  • A good reliable cleaning service.  During the changeover day you must have the house cleaned thoroughly.  If you plan on managing the property yourself make sure that you find a cleaner that does an incredible job.  There’s nothing worse than guest showing up on their first day of vacation and walking into a home that is not thoroughly cleaned. 
  • Have a welcome basket for all guest.  It doesn’t have to be something elaborate but something that brightens up guest arrival.  One thing that you can put in the basket is a few drink cozies that have the house name and website on it.  It’s something that the guest can take with them and remember the house by.   There are websites out there that make these things for relatively cheap and it is marketing money well spent.
  • Make up a guest info book.  Most all restaurants will have a take away menu.  Make up a binder and stick as many restaurant menus in there as possible.  Also make up a list of local grocery stores, liquor stores, dry cleaners, shops, amusement parks, and whatever else you can think of to make their stay more enjoyable.  It’s also good to include a set of house rules and community regulations.  These should include things like whether a badge or id is required for community amenity use, gate codes, trash pick-up days, and anything that pertains to the house and community. Be as detailed as possible with this.  Make sure that there is an emergency contact number in there.  If something breaks you want to respond quickly.
  • Have a guest memory book.  It’s a nice thing to have for guest to write down a personal note about their stay.  A lot of people will find it interesting to see what previous guest have found and done while on vacation in your home. 
  • Invest in durable furniture.  Most people want to go on vacation and stay in a place that is at least as nice as their primary home.  Thrift shop couches from the 1980’s just are not going to cut it.  You will be competing with other well maintained homes.  Buying cheap rickety chairs and tables will only ensure that you will be purchasing them year after year. 

Last but not least make sure that you block out the time that you want to spend at your home.  It is great when you have a home that is consistently occupied.  However if you can never come down and enjoy your home what is the point?  Having a home at the Beach is one of the greatest things.  For most it is a place that helps to reenergize and build family memories.  You will want to come down and enjoy it as much as your guest do!  When you are ready to buy a beach home give me a call!  Have a great day.


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