If you own — or are considering buying — a vacation property, renting that property on a short- term basis is always an option to consider. And if you do rent your vacation property, it’s important to know what vacation property renters are really looking for when they go online to search through the thousands of available vacation rentals out there.
Here — in order of priority — are what renters are looking for:
Let’s assume that your vacation rental is in a destination area with an obvious draw: a beach, a lake, a ski area or in an urban setting, a lively downtown or shopping/dining district, etc. Properties that are closest to that attraction, i.e., beachfront homes or “ski-in, ski-out” condos, are going to be favorites among renters. However, easy access to these attractions can also be a huge selling point, such as proximity to shuttle buses or other public transportation. Wherever your property is, make sure that potential renters know how they can reach the area’s main attractions. And if you’re not in what’s considered a “prime” location, emphasize your property location’s strengths, e.g.: “Quiet setting.” “Away from the crowds, but with easy access to …” You get the idea.
For renters, this one’s pretty simple: If you have eight people in a group, they’ll need a place that sleeps eight. For owners, always keep in mind that sleeping capacity is a huge factor in pricing your rental: the higher the occupancy, the higher the price. Take stock of your rental’s bedding arrangements. If you have a second or third bedroom with, say, a queen bed, could you fit two full or queen beds in that room, doubling that room’s sleeping capacity? If your rental is a good fit for families, how about a “kids’ room” with two bunk beds (sleeps 4) or even two twin-over-full bunk beds (sleeping up to six)? How about replacing that old couch in the living room with a sleeper sofa? And if you’re in the market for a vacation rental, the general rule is: Buy the biggest property (with the most potential sleeping capacity) you can afford. Of course, use common sense: Don’t increase occupancy beyond what’s comfortable. One rule of thumb is: Never exceed more than four guests per bathroom. And make sure that everyone has a place to sit and eat, e.g., if your property can sleep eight, it’s nice to have a dining table that seats eight, but it’s OK to have a table for six and seating for two at a kitchen counter.
Once renters have settled on the location and sleeping capacity, price becomes a huge factor. The most important thing to know is: What a comparable (size, sleeping capacity, quality, etc.) rental properties in the same area going for? Go online and do some research just like your potential renters will do. In addition to the nightly rate, take a look at what other owners charge for taxes, cleaning fees and security deposits. Look at high-season and low-season rates in your area, too. A good price to shoot for is one that’s just slightly lower than your competition. There’s no need to price too low. You’re just leaving money on the table … and possibly even scaring off potential renters who’ll think, “There must be something wrong with it.”
Many vacation rental websites have standard rating terms for properties such as “standard,” “moderate,” “luxury” and so on. Or, it may be a “1 to 5 stars” system. Again, do your research. Look at how comparable properties are rated and, above all, be REALISTIC AND HONEST in how you rate your property. You might even want to get a third party — a trusted friend, or even a realtor — involved. Many owners are emotionally attached to their properties and not the best judges of their properties’ true condition. The last thing you want to do is “oversell” your property. Disappointed renters will leave negative reviews online — and other potential guests DO read these reviews. Renters looking at properties in your property’s size and price range will have a good idea of what to expect, so again, look at how comparable properties are rated.
Vacation property renters expect better amenities than hotels offer. Some of the amenities that used to be considered luxuries are now expected, including:
- Complimentary cable channel access
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Blu-Ray player
- Large LCD TV. Some experts suggest TVs (preferably LCD) in every bedroom
- Washer and dryer (either in the property or property complex
- Gas grill
- Hot tub (private or shared)
- Garage/parking spaces
In the end, vacation property renters want all the conveniences of home — and as many amenities and luxury features as they (and you) can afford!
A New Trend: Demand for Pet-Friendly Properties
All told, 65 percent of U.S. households include a pet, usually a dog or cat. And a growing number of pet owners insist on traveling with their pets — so much that professional property management companies are swamped with requests for pet-friendly properties. While some owners shudder at the thought of letting animals into their properties, some owners have found that switching to a pet-friendly policy typically leads to 20-30 percent more rental revenue, with little or no more wear and tear on their properties. Plus, pet owners expect to pay added rent for their pets as well as a higher damage deposit, so in the unlikely event of damage, you’re typically well covered. Here’s a very informative blog on the advantages of making your vacation rental pet friendly.
Whether your vacation property is a simple studio condo or a high-end, multi-bedroom home, make sure you have the basics covered and understand what renters are looking for. You’ll attract more renters — and increase the likelihood that they’ll want to return.
If you’re interested in more information on how to make your property more renter-friendly, please give us a call at 970.453.7370 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to answer any questions about your property and vacation rental management — whether we manage your property or not!