Friday, October 29, 2010
by Broderick Perkins
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Deadline Newsroom - It's only a good time to buy a vacation rental if you are really cut out for the job.
Property prices as low as they've been in a decade, record low interest rates, an ample inventory and a growing base of travelers who want bargain getaway accommodations with all the comforts of home, all add up to vacation rental market ripe for the picking, says vacation rental guru Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for HomeAway.com, the global leader in vacation rentals, hosting some 540,000 vacation rental listings.
That's provided you have what it takes to run with the vacation rental owner crowd.
You'll need the right stuff to live the lifestyle that comes with owning and managing a vacation rental home, says Karpinski, a vacation rental owner herself and author of "How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment" (Kinney Pollack Press, $26.00).
Answer most of these questions with a 'Yes' and you are a good to go for it. Answer 'No' to most of them and it's probably time to rethink a vacation rental home acquisition.
Q: Am I patient?
Vacation rental ownership is not a "get-rich-quick" opportunity. Profitable vacation rental owners are patient. They focus on the long-term potential for profiting from their properties.
Q: Do I have five extra hours a week to spare?
That's about how long it takes to manage a property during peak season. The job includes answering inquiries, taking reservations, managing staff, keeping records and more.
"If every hour of your life is already accounted for, renting out your vacation property may not be right for you," Karpinski says.
Q: Am I willing to do business on a week-by-week basis (rather than year-by-year)?
Managing a vacation rental typically is not the same as working as a full-time landlord. Tenants come for a few days to a week, and go. Every week presents a new opportunity to be successful and to impress new guests and make them repeat customers.
Q: Am I detail-oriented?
You must be. Guests expect a certain level of quality. Regularly visit your property to make sure your on-site staff is keeping it in the shape you desire.
Q: Can I follow a marketing plan?
You don't have to be a professional marketer, thanks to the Internet, but you do have to follow simple instructions. Like other vacation rental portals, HomeAway.com offers a turnkey method online to present your home to potential renters. In a addition to offering the tools and features to market your home, its OwnerCommunity.com provides a host of information articles, expert advice and step-by-step instructions to keep your property rented.
Q: Am I responsive?
Be ready to grab opportunities. Potential renters typically inquire about more than one property. If you want to close the deal, put on your entrepreneur hat and be the first to act, returning calls, responding to emails, etc.
"That may mean taking calls at dinner and checking your email regularly - even when you're on vacation."
Q: Am I personable?
One of your jobs will be to make people comfortable when they rent your home. Make your vacation rental a real "home away from home."
Q: Am I a good people manager?
If you're a long-distance vacation rental owner, you must be prepared to hire and manage a productive "staff" -- housekeepers, lawn care people, plumbers, and others. Your staff should understand what you want to achieve with each guest. That will both ease your anxiety and make your renting experience enjoyable. In most vacation rental markets, these networks are well established. Just plug in.
Q: Am I okay with managing from a distance?
For many owners, vacation properties
are hours and many miles away from their primary residence. With the right on-site staff in place, it is easy to manage your vacation property from a distance.
"Being a long-distance owner will make the vacation rental business a lot more enjoyable for you because you won't be micromanaging every little detail at your property," Karpinski notes.
"That's a habit that is easy to slip into if you live close by," she says.
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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.
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Perkins is managing editor of HomeAway.com's Gulf Coast Response Center.
Perkins was the first Examiner to cover three beats for the Examiner.com news service:
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