do you own a vacation rental?

sun2007June 24, 2013


We have to relocate and are considering converting our current home into a vacation rental, instead of selling it. We live in a high traffic, tourist location (during certain seasons).

I am looking for advice and pitfalls to owning a vacation rental. We have other rental property that is rented on a yearlong lease, and have had incredible luck with amazing long term tenants. I understand vacation rentals are an entirely different beast.

Do you love having a vacation home? Did you have one but get rid of it due to the hassles? Any thoughts and advice is greatly appreciated!

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I have one, but it's only 75 miles from my year round home. This makes it easy to look in on it. I have had both summer and winter renters. I am lucky enough to have a local realtor take care of finding people for me, and he as found people to clean between renters. I suggest you do that. We have had no trouble with summer renters, as they are mainly families on vacation. Our agent is very picky about off season renters, as they can be transient. Don't have anything in there you care about!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Just a thought--heard they might be changing tax rules about vacation rentals. Check with your tax person.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:50PM
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We had one but it did not go well for a couple reasons. The main one was because it was owned by numerous family members, so there were always disputes. It was also 6 hours away.

Also, it was not in highly traveled area, and we had problems finding reliable people to mow/clean etc.

I handled the rentals through VRBO and that was not bad.

DH and I have talked about doing it again but I would seriously consider finding a local "property manager". And only if it was just us, no extended family.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Ours is a condo 1200 miles away. We don't have to worry about outdoor maintenance (condo) but we had to find a reliable housekeeper to "close up" after a renter vacated.

Some pitfalls: be prepared for people calling saying "xxxx" is not working (translate dishwasher, clothes washer, toilet, cable tv etc..." This means an expensive service call for us. We are way too far away to troubleshoot it.

Your property taxes will likely go up because it is no longer your primary residence.

Everyday items like towels, pots and pans, rugs, shower curtains, linens, etc... have to be replaced more frequently than you would in your normal home.

If it is a house, what is the minimum rental period you rent it? In other words, your neighbors may not appreciate it suddenly turning into a hotel with different people coming and going each week.

How will you advertise and find decent renters? We have "Regulars" -- we no longer use a service because they take too much commission.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 8:20AM
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Insufficient information:

1 - How far away will you be?
2 - Will you be doing weekends, monthly, or "for the season"? The higher the turnover, the more damage and hassle.

I'd go for long term. Rent to the people who service the tourists, not the tourists.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:23AM
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We do have a vacation place. We would never rent it out. Too much trouble. We have people ask all the time but hubby says no!! Hubby says once you do it it is hard to stop. So many people don't take care of others things.. Liability is another issue. They get hurt it is on you.. We feel we have worked far to hard to let anything happen.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 1:44PM
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We have a ski house, but do not rent it out except for the basement apartment which is leased on a long-term basis. Ironically, the subdivision covenants do not allow the apt. to be leased on a short term, nightly or weekly, basis, but would allow nightly rentals for main house. Only one house in our small subdivision was ever placed in the nightly rental market and that was only for the season the previous owner was trying to sell it. It is now owner occupied. We also have another rental property nearby that is permitted for nightly rentals, as well as long term, but we lease it on a long
term basis. We are 1000 miles away, but our daughter now lives there full time and handles the management (she is a property manager), so no problems and we love it. We take 3-4 trips out each year right now, but plan on retiring there in the next 4-6 years. Before our current house, we had a condo in the short term vacation rental pool. No hassles but the property management fee was steep (40%+cleaning fees) and we had to reserve our own unit six months in advance especially if we wanted to be there during prime time.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:39AM
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We have had one for 20 years. Its about 5 hours away. We have had good luck with it but we rent it ourselves and it is a fair amount of work. We spend our vacation time working on the house. We are in an area that appeals to families and not singles so that probably has a lot to do with it. Also there are a lot of locals who are are willing and able to help us out when needed at a very reasonable cost.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 11:28PM
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We've had one for over 10 years. We live close enough to check on it frequently even though we use a property management company for the paperwork, cleaning and midnight calls for maintenance problems. Ours is a weekly rental at the beach. We do not provide linens because local law says that the linens must be laundered in a commercial laundry. Renters either bring their own or rent them.

Furniture, floor coverings, etc. do take a beating. People sit on the couch in wet bathing suits, leave glasses on end tables, etc. all the time. All flat surfaces in all rooms now have glass tops over the wood. We try to keep the unit in condition that we would happily move in and live there if needed. Don't buy cheap furniture because it won't hold up. We try to replace major appliances, HWH, HVAC, etc before they break. There is nothing worse than having renters who paid a lot of money in our unit when something isn't working. I hate bothering someone while they are on vacation to replace the AC or HWH.

We found the internet was the key to keeping it rented. We have a mix of repeat renters and new. We are currently getting inquiries for summer, 2014. The unit stays pretty full. We do schedule two weeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall for our use and maintenance.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 7:57AM
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