Here’s what you need to know to give yourself the best chance of success.
Renting out your primary or secondary home as a vacation rental to boost your income has never been easier. Here’s what you need to know to give yourself the best chance of success.
Do your homework
If you’re considering listing a property as a vacation rental, it’s useful to know your market and check out the competition. Noelene, who has been listing her garage apartment for nine months with VRBO and has welcomed guests from as far as India, Germany and the U.K., says she started out with some basic fact-finding.
“I researched online to see what was available in the local short-term rental market,” says Noelene. “I was certain I could provide something better. The research also helped me price competitively.” VRBO also provides tools like their rent potential calculator that shows homeowners how much they could earn renting their home to travelers.
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A disappointing stay at a property rented via another platform taught Noelene what not to do, she adds. “We walked in and there were old cooking smells and scruffy old furniture. The pans were filthy, the plates were cracked and the dishwasher wasn’t working. It was an example of every possible mistake!”
Deck it out
Extensive facilities help attract a higher rental price for your property. Noelene added a full kitchen and cooktop to her studio and installed a washing machine and dryer. “The laundry facilities mean the studio is truly self-contained,” she says. “We didn’t want to share our own home’s facilities, and this also adds more flexibility for guests – they can wash and change linens whenever they want. Plus again, it adds value to the home.” She adds: “I spent wisely to avoid cost blowout.”
Go the extra mile
In addition to the big-ticket appliances, Noelene decked out her studio with enticing extras including a microwave and espresso machine. For Seattle visitors, things like raincoats, umbrellas and city maps can go a long way. “Those items add another layer of comfort and independence,” she says. “I also offer a range of teas, put fresh milk in the fridge and always add a block of Lindt chocolate – nice little things that you’d appreciate yourself really mean a lot.”
Maximize your asset
Take a long look at the space you’re planning to list and decide what it needs to stand out. Extra time and investment up front can pay dividends once you’re in the market. After Noelene modernized her studio, the carefully considered improvements boosted its rental value.
Craft a catchy headline
Your property listing is crucial to booking success – and the headline is the very first information potential renters see. It needs to impress immediately. If you had 20 seconds to pitch your property, what key selling points would you include? Noelene chose her property’s gorgeous leafy location, proximity to the popular nearby golf course, and another key feature: free internet.
Sell it well
Attract even more bookings with a well-written, clear, informative listing highlighting your property’s key assets. Paint a picture of how lovely it feels to be there. In addition to all the facilities and renovations, Noelene describes her studio’s deck as a soothing spot to “enjoy the sunsets and listen to the birds,” transporting potential guests to a relaxing vacation oasis.
Think like a tour guide
Highlight attractions for families, businesspeople and overseas guests, as well as public transportation links and local hospitals. Whether your home is near Gas Works Park, Pike Place Market, or the best brewery in Ballard, help travelers get an idea of where they can get to easily from your home. This helps travelers feel more confident when booking your listing.
Be picture perfect
Great quality photos can make all the difference between a booking and someone clicking past your listing, says Noelene. “Have the place really immaculate and use good lighting when you take the photos. They last a lifetime, so make sure things are straight; the bedding, the cushions, no junk lying on the benches.”
Use your resources
There’s plenty to learn about the short-term rental industry, and Noelene recommends tapping into VRBO’s comprehensive knowledge base. “One of the advantages of listing with VRBO is the constant support,” she says. “They’re a phone call away. You’re learning the system at first, and you can ask them to walk you through anything, any time. It’s absolutely no problem.” Noelene was especially grateful for help with setting up house rules for guests and understanding how to find the right price for her studio. “There are also plenty of great resources and articles on the VRBO website that cover all the basics,” she says.
Clean like a pro
“Next-level cleanliness is expected in the hospitality industry, and nothing less will do,” says Noelene. “Your place needs to be nothing short of immaculate for each new guest.” Double-check that your oven, pans and microwave are squeaky clean. Vacuum under the bed, pull all the furniture out, check for cobwebs and dust, make sure there is absolutely no sign of the previous tenant. Everything needs to smell fresh – no old cooking aromas – and all your bed linens and towels have to be clean and free of old stains.
“Consider including a cleaning fee on top of your nightly rate,” says Noelene, who charges $70 for the service.
For those homeowners looking to rent for the first time, VRBO provides all the tools and support you need to get started – from helping you decide on the best price for your rental to staying compliant with local regulations and effectively promoting your rental to their hundreds of millions of travelers.
VRBO, based in Austin, Texas, is a leading online marketplace for the vacation rental industry, with sites representing more than 2 million unique places to stay in 190 countries, and is a part of the Expedia Group family of brands.