How to turn your property into a vacation rental

Want to make a few extra bucks renting out your home when you’re out of town?

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From the Summer 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Dropping off the keys

All property owners have their own rules about handing over the keys, says Bordo. Some hide them under a rock, others have secure key holders near the front door that require a pass code. Some even take the time to meet with renters in person and walk them around the property. Returning the keys can be as simple as tossing them through a mail slot in the door.

Play More on how to turn your home into a small business.

Go the extra mile

“Marketing your property doesn’t end when your renter signs up,” says Bordo. You need to offer the same level of hospitality as a hotel. “Leave a bottle of wine or chocolates as thank-you gifts,” says Bordo. Doing so will help ensure they’ll rent from you again and they’ll give you a great review.”

Avoiding problem guests

Worried your place will be trashed? Ask your renters for references and look them up on Facebook and LinkedIn—a professional is less likely to punch holes in your walls. Rental sites can tell you if anyone has lodged a complaint about them. If you’re really worried, try meeting the renter in person or chat by phone. As a final protection make sure you ask for a deposit of between 15% to 20% of the rental fee to pay for any damages.

Your sales pitch

Before you can rent your place, you have to get noticed. Sites like CottageCountry.com and Airbnb offer one-stop spots for listings, but you still need to stand out from the crowd. Start by writing a detailed description of your property that flaunts the features of your place and highlights local amenities and activities, says Mark Bordo, founder and president of CottageCountry.com. Crisp high-quality photos are key. Make sure rooms are cleared of clutter and well-lit.

Make sure you’re covered

“Once you start offering your property for rent the standard home insurance policy won’t apply,” warns Pete Karageorgos of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. If renters damage your property you may not be covered. Before you rent, call your insurance company to add appropriate coverage (usually called a rider or endorsement), he says. You also need to be aware of any local or provincial laws that could restrict short-term rentals.

What should you charge?

Airbnb suggests researching nearby hotels and other vacation rentals to get a sense of what the market will bear. Low prices are a good way to get people through the door initially and will help you build up reviews. There’s money to be made: The average place on CottageCountry.com goes for about $1,500 a week. The major sites accept credit cards from renters and pay you directly so you don’t have to worry about a renter skipping out on the bill. Typically the money is transferred to you via PayPal when the renter leaves.

More from MoneySense on income properties:

Where to buy a vacation home in the U.S.
When to rent out your property
Condo-hotels: Automatic returns, or so you think

8 comments on “How to turn your property into a vacation rental

  1. I too feel that being a great host is imperative to running a successful rental business. Not only do we get a lot of repeat business, but we get referrals too. It takes very little to make your renter feel at home and I strongly recommend it. We have had many renters from CottageCountry.com and they come back to the site to post reviews about us. Our friendliness and welcoming package is often noted.

    Reply

    • I agree you Jason, on how important it is to be a great host. And it’s the professionalism within this industry is what sets apart the successful owners from those who barely get any results. It,s the only way to get repeat business and not push people away from vacation rentals all together. I constantly try to find way to make my business better, and it’s why I and sign up to newsletters like the one at VHRA.info. That being said, there’s absolutely no harm in simply trying it out to see what comes of your experience. Even just one or two bookings can help put an extra couple of dollars into your pocket, especially when the property is vacant anyway.

      Reply

  2. Its really the same principle for rentals and hotels. Staying at a hotel is a much better experience when you're welcomed – How nice is it when you get our of your car after a long drive and are welcomed with a bottle of water or drink. It really helps to kick off the experience…. Its no different when you rent a cottage – Even a welcome card with some flowers is a nice touch.

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  3. Thanks for the great tips. We were wondering if it was difficult to post our cottage rental. Will check out the site tonight. Great story.

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  4. Those tips are awesome. We are starting our business to rent offices and rental spaces. We'll keep in mind those recommendations for ourselves. Thanks google for finding you

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  5. Extra property can leads a extra income. It's a good deal if a person earn from his property. Many saving and expense can be done. If one can repay his loan amount if he has a extra property for rent purpose.

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  6. I just want to say these tips are really awesome but I want to ask a question that how we can convert our little homes into vacaton homes?

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  7. Thanks for the tips. A lot of people are really looking for quality vacation rentals during vacation. Have you heard of http://www.globalguestsuites.com/?

    Reply

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