It's a dream most of us have at some point: What if I bought a place in a buzzy, tourist-driven destination, and listed it as a vacation rental? It could be a nice side hustle to earn extra cash-after all, the average person makes about $924 a month off of listing a home on Airbnb, a June 2017 study found. It's a tempting proposition, but it can also be intimidating. There's the whole issue of figuring out how to buy a house (thankfully, we have a guide for that), and then, determining how to choose a place-and promote it in a way-so that it's booked often enough to cover its bills and line your pocket.
For the latter, we turned to luxury property specialists Natalie Cregger and Scott Maizlish. At Summit Sotheby's International Realty, they focus on home listings in and around Park City, Utah-one of the top ski resorts in the country, according to TurnKey Vacation Rentals' 2018 report-where they focus on listing the most sought-after properties the area has to offer. Using a recent listing of theirs as an example (a Stonebridge Circle property you can check out in depth-or request more info on it, in case you're in the market to buy right this second-here), Natalie revealed what makes a mountain rental that always gets booked.
Prioritize Your Location, Location, Location.
Choosing a home downtown-within a 5-10 minute walk of restaurants and bars-is crucial. "A lot of people who are on vacation are taking Ubers to get around, so anything within walking distance of things to do at night is very desirable," Natalie says.
Think of things you can play up in that area. In Boulder Creek, where the Stonebridge house is listed, for example, a nearby amphitheater hosts weekly music festivals, giving the four-bedroom, three-bathroom greater appeal, beyond drawing in people who love to ski.
Consider One Backyard Investment.
Think about it: People are vacationing at this house, so making the backyard its own destination can go a long way. You may not be able to install a pool that could double as a water park, a la HGTV's Christina Anstead, but maybe you could add a hot tub.
Don't Fall for Any Vacation Rental Cliches When Decorating.
Just like a beach house can easily skew cheesy when it's covered in sand dollars and sea glass, a mountain home can get a little too folksy. These days, people crave homes that feel more contemporary, Natalie says, particularly homes with white walls, wood floors, gray tones, and modern finishes. "People are attracted to clean lines, and fresh, bright interiors," she explains.
Try to add a detail that will make the space memorable-you've got to stand out amid the competition, after all-without going over-the-top. Graphic, black-and-white tile in the kitchen of the Stonebridge house instantly grabs your attention-and makes you envision yourself hanging out there.
Budget for the Off-Season.
November through April tend to be busy months for mountain homes. You may get fewer bookings in the summer, which is why other draws-like the aforementioned music festivals-can be a huge help to maintain a steady rental income.
On that note, marketing your home as the place to spend the holidays (Is the kitchen nice and open, inviting people to cook together? Is the living room spacious enough for people to gather comfortably?), can be another way to command more for your listings during peak season.
Consider These Keywords.
Stating that the home's in meticulous condition, is close to recreational activities, has ski-in and ski-out access (if it truly does), and is "turnkey"-AKA totally renovated and sold fully furnished-are huge draws, if and when you decide to sell, Natalie says. A lot of what works when you're buying and selling are also draws for rental listings, too: specifically name any major landmarks, buildings or trendy restaurants and bars your home is near, as well as any amenities that could help someone imagine having a relaxing getaway at your home.
Even sought-after brands can be part of the appeal: Are those Casper mattresses in the bedrooms? Are you fully stocked for entertaining, down to keeping a slow cooker on hand? Do you have an ice bucket and bottle of champagne waiting for people when they arrive? Those details can make all the difference.
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