How To Manage Your Second Home And Keep It Rented
During the housing boom from 2000-2005, the number of second homes sold, as a percentage of the number of total homes sold, was as high as 17% in some areas. The Carolinas have always been a very popular second home destination due to the diversity of its geography and favorable climate. Families headed to the mountains or the beach to escape the summer heat and the crowded, hectic pace of the city. And today, North and South Carolina are more popular than ever for people interested in purchasing a second home. There are certain areas in the Carolinas that are great second home areas due to their popularity as tourist destinations and favorable location. In North Carolina, you have the mountain towns such as Asheville, Boone, Banner Elk, and Cashiers and the beach towns to the south of Wilmington, New Bern and Morehead City. South Carolina has its favorites of Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Beaufort, Hilton Head, along the coast, and Aiken, Clemson, Seneca, Greenville/Spartanburg, and Greenwood in the mountains (upcountry).
Owning a second home serves many purposes. You can use it for your summer vacation, as an investment, and for retirement. During the periods you are not using your second home, we’ll show you how to keep it rented and manage it, to get the most from owning it. The thing we love about real estate as an investment is that, unlike stocks, you can buy a piece of property in an area you love and live in it part of the year, while renting it out the rest and if you do it right, watch your appreciation and profits grow, while summer rentals pay off your mortgage. Try tying a hammock around your bonds or mutual funds!
Make your listing look good. Add as many pictures as you are allowed, and if possible, pay more to have more. Make sure the rooms are well lit, and look inviting. Hint: use a low angle and a wide lens to make rooms look bigger. If you have a pop-up flash on your camera, you can have someone hold a piece of wax paper in front of it when you take the picture, to diffuse the flash and provide more even light. The website, lumiquest dot com sells an inexpensive attachment for your camera to achieve this same effect. It makes the room look warm and inviting, instead of harsh and over lit. Take photos of the lawn and the amenities. If you have a hot-tub make sure it’s on and bubbling before taking the picture. A sunset shot never hurts either. Add a hammock somewhere on the property and get a shot of that, people want to picture themselves with their feet up. Lastly, don’t be afraid to toss a couple of props into the photos. A newspaper by the hammock or a frosty drink by the hot tub can do wonders. You may even want to hire someone to take a couple of professional shots.
Take a look at the other homes in the area you are renting in, and make sure your home is priced accordingly. Maybe even try to undercut the competition by $25 or so, you’ll be surprised what a small decrease can do for a renter’s psychology. You’ll also want to offer incentives to stay longer, so give your renters a break for a weekly or monthly rate. Make sure to have reduced off season rates, to keep as many months as possible booked up. Having a calendar of available dates also helps enormously. People don’t want to have to trade three or four emails with you to find out if they can come stay when they want to, by then they’ll have moved on. If you do get inquiries, respond quickly, lest someone else does. Do something no on else does, like offering a “”concierge”” service. Having the refrigerator stocked with all your guests’ favorite foods before they arrive, so all they have to do is start relaxing immediately, will go a long way toward keeping people coming back year after year. Of course, the cost of the groceries will be added to their bill.
Writing a good description is important. The standard 3BR, 2BA, doesn’t do too much to get the blood pumping, so convince your prospective renters why they want to stay with you. Are the beds the most comfortable? Did you just put in new air conditioners; massaging shower heads; and is the hot tub large enough to invite friends? How large is the property? Is the property fenced in? Is the yard perfect for whiffle ball games? Does your grill cook the perfect steak? Do the sounds of waves lapping on the shore lull you to sleep at night? Is it a private, special setting?
Once you get people there you want to make sure they have a great time. Make sure there are directions near everything, and the items your renters will need are in logical places. Have some nice touches out. Baskets of goodies in the kitchen, and novelty soaps, toothbrushes, and hair products in the bathroom, go a long way. If you’re by the beach, have a couple tubes of sunscreen in plain sight, if you’re by the lake, maybe it’s a can of bug spray. Can you get some coupons from local stores for discounted or “”free”” items, is there a local paper or tourism guide for the area? Have a loose-leaf full of menus of local restaurants. You know your home the best, and you know what’s needed to have a great time there, if its cheap and easy to supply, make sure it’s there.
After your guests have left, continue to make them feel special. Send them a card and thank them for staying with you. Ask them if there was anything missing or anything they’d like to see in the future. Most importantly, ask them for a testimonial you can put in your listing. If you have trouble writing, this is the best way to fill up your description.
If you’re thinking of using a professional management company to take care of your second home make sure to check into them thoroughly. It is best if you know another owner in the area who can recommend someone. If not, make sure to speak with several companies, asking for references, pricing, and what services are offered. Existing relationships with tradesmen in the area may be useful in finding a reference for a good manager for your property as well.
Hopefully, with these tips to renting your second home, you’ll make the most of your investment. Renting out a vacation home can be a challenge, but also very rewarding when your mortgage is paid for you, and you get to vacation, and possibly retire free and clear in a place you love.