How to Make More Money as a First-Time Vacation Rental Owner

As a first-time vacation rental owner, you’re probably realizing there is a lot more that goes into vacation property management than you originally thought. With more and more people investing in vacation rental properties each year, keeping your home booked can quickly feel like less of a side-investment and more like a full-time job.

That’s why we came up with these 6 tips for a first-time vacation rental owner to maximize their earning potential without breaking the bank and without wasting time.

1. Do Your Research

The fact that you’re reading this article is proof that you’re willing to put in the work to make the most out of your rental home.

Even before purchasing a vacation rental, it’s important to do your research so you know that the money you’re spending will pay off down the road. Everything from where to buy a vacation home to understanding state and federal tax laws to knowing how and where to list your property are absolute must-knows for a first-time vacation rental owner.

Luckily, a simple Google search will pull up tons of use information for first-timers like yourself. This Topkey blog is also a great place to start.

2. Don't do all of the work yourself

Vacation property management might seem like an easy way to make some extra cash, but in reality, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Marketing your home through the right channels, regular maintenance and repair work, and consistently responding to inquiries and reviews can eat up your spare time in a flash.

Fortunately, there are other options besides self-management. At Topkey, we connect homeowners with qualified local property managers. We also help you compare, vet, and hire a vacation property manager you can trust to handle the nitty-gritty work of owning a vacation home.

Not sure you want to hire a property manager? Check out these two articles to get help deciding:

3. Price For Success

Pricing is one of the most difficult components to marketing a vacation home.

A common mistake first-time vacation rental owners make is establishing a flat rate for their vacation home year-round. As part of your research, learn when the market peaks and lulls are in your area, and raise or lower your price accordingly. You should also check out these tips for optimizing your vacation rental during the off-season.

Another mistake first-timers fall victim to is not using comparable homes in the area to set their price. Looking at similar homes to yours in the same area and with similar amenities can help take the guesswork out of vacation rental pricing. Try not to forget that little amenities matter when marketing a vacation rental. For instance, if you provide your guests access to a golf cart during their stay, you can expect to earn 10-15% higher rates than a comparable property without one. Keep this in mind when trying to evaluate pricing for other area homes.

4. Keep Your Guests (& Your Home) safe

As a first-time vacation rental host, there are a number of things you can (& should) do to keep your home safe both when it’s occupied and when it’s not.

Here are some quick vacation rental home security tips:

  • Set your lights on a timer
  • Use smart technology to ensure your doors are locked and the alarm is on
  • Install cameras at primary entrances
  • Keep the yard clean and manicured
  • Don’t give out too much information prior to booking

By taking proper security measures, you not only keep your house safe but you show your guests that you care about them and their safety as well. This will lead to higher reviews, more repeat guests, and increased bookings.

5. Interior Design Matters

Of course, some guests are looking for more eccentric homes with themed rooms or unique decor, but for the most part, it’s in your best interest to play it safe with white linens, extra sheets, and comfy pillows.

The way your vacation property looks goes a long way towards attracting guests. When decorating your rental home, focus on creating a comfortable space that appeals to a wide range of visitors. A good property manager will have a standardized linen program that you can opt-into that will ensure your guests have hotel-quality linens at the ready.Interior Design

Similarly, investing in high-quality furniture (especially mattresses and couches) can be the difference between a five-star review from a returning guest and a one-star review that kills future revenue.

Finally, adding things like artwork, mirrors, and accent tables will make your home feel less empty and more home-y.

6. Make It Memorable -- welcome book, local attractions, smart home, home amenities, etc.

Repeat bookings and excellent guest reviews are two of the best ways to secure a top dollar return on your investment as a first-time vacation rental owner. Make sure guests enjoy their stay by offering things like:

  • A welcome book with guides to local restaurants and attractions
  • Amenities that go above and beyond what’s expected
  • Personalized suggestions for what to do during their stay
  • Smart TVs, games, and other fun ways to spend time while they are in your home

Just owning a vacation rental home is not going to make you money. But by doing your homework, outsourcing parts of the job, and investing in ways to make every guest’s stay memorable, you’ll turn your vacation rental property into a cash generating investment.