Vacation rentals have been doing really well all through covid but, as we emerge, people are eager to travel. Now is the time to make some updates and polish up your online presence if you want to continue to maximize rental income and keep your property booked solid!
I don’t know about you, but with covid numbers high, flights grounded, and the borders still closed, I spent the better part of the summer scrolling through listings of homes and rental properties “only a mother could love” eager for a summer get-away! Properties, no doubt loved by family members who have grown blind to their flaws, were lack-luster, dismal and bleak to say the least!
Book up early with a fresh update and some TLC
If you have a vacation property you rent out from time to time, either to offset expenses, or for profit, you need to treat it like any other investment. Whether yours is a beach-front summer home, a charming cottage, a grand lake-house, or an airbnb, you are in the hospitality industry. Some properties are rented out years in advance by repeat tenants while others don’t seem to attract as many inquiries. If you have ever wondered why you only get last minute bookings, you may not be seeing your property through fresh eyes.
Wouldn’t you love to be booked up in advance?
To consistently get multiple offers and be able to raise the rent there are many things you can do to move your property to the top of the list.
Attract quality renters
How can you attract the best tenants who will respect your home and come back year after year? It may seem impossible but there is a lot you can do to attract the right renters. For example, a homeowner who shows their pride in their property by caring for it is likely to attract others to treat it the same way. A neglected or unloved property where maintenance is overlooked or spotty won’t bring out the best in your renters. If your place looks pristine and respectable, renters will be fearful of making the first mark. They will respect and love it just the way you do if you show that you take care.
How can you stack the odds in your favour when renting your property? Background checks and credit history checks are great first steps. Longer term rentals help. Weed out frequent change-over for best results. Higher income rentals often can demand longer minimum stays. This works in your favour.
Attract quality renters by offering a well-kept property with a great online presence.
Make your place a destination
This is more a matter of mind-set than anything. I know many rental properties are all about the water and the outdoors, but those rainy days should offer a great indoor experience too!
Update your decor
First off, you CAN have a home you love and rent it out occasionally as well. Let that sink in. Decorate for your own enjoyment with hard-wearing selections that will stand up to rental use for best results. Patterns hide stains so keep that in mind when picking rugs and fabrics. It’s (almost) as simple as that. Performance fabrics on upholstery will wear well and resist staining, so there’s no excuse for hanging on to old lumpy furniture because you rent your place. In our studio, we select fabrics that are engineered and tested to resist spilled wine, cheetos, grubby fingers, and all kinds of real-life events when designing for busy families. With our pet friendly tips, and family friendly tips you can update your furniture for a stellar rating. People will thank you!
Below are some lovely spaces (for inspiration only) that score a ten out of ten in our books for style. Do they look like typical rental properties? Heck no…but that’s the point! Your rental property can have style that is practical. For our Cape Cod property, we selected from commercial grade fabric for exactly that reason. It is rated for use in hotel lobbies, bus stations, and high traffic areas and looks like new, many years and many rentals later! Ask a pro if you need help with picking fabric.
Think outside the box (literally)! A great tip when shopping for fabric, and for furniture, is to look at outdoor selections. “Perennials” and “Sunbrella” make great lines of stain and/or fade resistant, hard-wearing fabrics for outdoor upholstered pieces. Outdoor coffee tables, end tables, dining furniture designed to stand up to the elements will fare well with renters indoors too.
Here’s a great example below. The beauty of this first image is that the base colours are, well, the colour of light sand, or – dirt! That is a great thing to look for when selecting carpet and upholstery, and yet, how pretty it looks!
Here’s a room shot below. Yes, your rental could be this lovely! With hard wearing upholstery and area rug, all thing are possible.
Leather, can be a good choice, but good quality leather is certainly a bigger investment. If you read up on how to purchase really good quality leather you can enjoy the patina it develops over time. This is where you will find it gets better with use and acquires a lovely sense of history.
Coastal and nautical vibes are very popular and attract attention online.
Outdoor furniture goes on sale at the end of each season so that is a great time to grab a few “completer pieces” like side tables, or just about anything!
Slipcovers (below) are great because they are easy to remove and clean. Look for fabric that is machine-washable and make certain it is pre-shrunk. Each season you can freshen them up for another summer of fun.
These swivel chairs, for example, are available in a wide selection of performance fabrics.
These rooms shots were selected to show some stylish spaces. Will all the items stand the test of time? Not necessarily. But the idea of furnishing and decorating your home once and you are done is not going to get you the best rental results you could get. Plan to replace tired worn items, and update every once in a while. The increased demand and revenue will more than cover the expense if you invest well in the larger purchases (furniture).
This is a great opportunity for a consultation with a designer to get fresh eyes on your property and provide some suggestions on how to update the decor. Many designers offer one-time consultations to get some guidance if you don’t want to hire them to do the entire job.
New upholstered furniture and a bit of professional guidance can go a long way toward increasing the rent you can advertise and get. People are not drawn to tired outdated properties. Even if your style is rustic and casual, it still should have a fresh up-to-date look.
What to look for (area rugs)
In general, synthetic fibres like nylon is your friend if you want a rug that will resist and release stains, this is your go-to at a low to mid-price point! That’s what we went for here (and below) when we had to choose wall-to-wall carpet to meet condo regulations to minimize sounds transmission. A property you rent is a great occasion to select an indoor/outdoor rug. They tend to be made from polypropylene and are very inexpensive. They have come a long way and are ideal for renters.
If you are still worried about staining and spills, we recommend an aftermarket protection service for your soft furnishings.
What to look for (upholstered furniture)
Upholstered furniture should be a once and done purchase. If you don’t know what to look for, we have a list of 13 tips for purchasing a quality sofa. Choose well, and a quality piece should last a life-time. You will, however, want to reupholster every 8 to 12 years as styles change.
We wrote a while ago about things to consider when building a cottage. Many of the tips apply universally for easy living.
Need I say more? Put away all the personal stuff. If you need an intervention there are many decluttering tips online.
Don’t overlook styling
Styling, on the other hand, adds personality and charm, and shows you care about your property. Be sure and include some photos of a few styled vignettes in your listing to set the tone.
Even if you put away some of the breakables before renters arrive, a styled vignette in your photos conveys mood and creates intrigue to draw the renter into your profile to see more. Here’s a photo of the coffee table at our vacation property.
Styling adds all the charm and reinforces the mood whether you are are the ocean, the lake, or have a mountain retreat. Here’s another photo from our property…you get the idea. Build excitement!
Greenery brings a space to life
If you look through photos of interiors, those with green plants pop more than rooms that have overlooked them. Faux are fine! They photograph well and no-one has to water them!
Furnished and outfitted
If your rental property is furnished and outfitted, why not be the best at it? If your inbox is not filled with inquiries, consider whether you are offering the up-scale experience people are shelling out hard-earned vacation dollars for. Toss the banged up hand-me down pots and pans and get a new set. Take the descriptor “gently used” very lightly. Most things like kitchen utensils, small appliances etc. for your renters should be in new or “like-new” condition.
Replace bed linens and towels for the bathrooms every few years and take the time to coordinate with your decor.
Update your kitchen
A kitchen update can mean a full renovation, a fresh coat of paint, or anything in between. This is your place to shine in the online space. There are many ways to update a kitchen without getting out the sledgehammer. But if a full reno is what’s needed, know you will be rewarded with better rental income when your property is in good repair and presents well in photos.
Replace tired-worn items
If your vacation property includes bedding and bath linens, keep them fresh. Simple classic basics like white will launder well and can be bleached if needed. Sheets should be crisp and neatly folded, towels fluffy. Plan to replace them every few years.
Extra blankets for cooler nights are appreciated.
A fresh coat of paint
This should be a no-brainer. A fresh coat of paint throughout, every year, or with little wear and good quality paint you can skip a year or so with maintenance and touch-ups. Listen to your designer or painter when they advise you to buy premium quality paint for best value for money overall. If it is wipeable then you won’t need to re-paint as soon.
Everything should be in good working order. Torn screens replaced, A/C maintenance should be up-to-date, replace air filters, burned-out light bulbs, and show that your place is cared for and expect your guests to treat it the same way. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If your place looks a bit neglected, your guests may not show it the love you have for it.
A deep cleaning once a year is a must! Polish, scour, and buff everything like your mother-in-law is coming and your guests will appreciate it! Leave adequate supplies of your preferred unscented cleaning products with fresh dust cloths, sponges, extra light bulbs, etc.
Guest reviews bring more views to your listing than anything you can say once you have already posted stellar photos, which leads me to my next point.
Get professional photos
Another tip to maximize rental income, great photos will make a huge difference! Tidy up and fluff your place, add fresh cut flowers for a pop of colour (pro tip: faux work well in photos and in real life, they have become so realistic!). Hire a professional photographer. It will be money well-spent.
A guest package
Adding a friendly welcome goes a long way to soften the hearts of weary travelers.
It’s the extras that will really say welcome…and then welcome back when they book again. A hostess package with a few thoughtful extras is always nice. Here are a few items that come to mind:
- A laminated list of things to know (wifi and password come to mind)
- Bottled drinking water
- Snack items with long shelf life (snack bars, cookies)
- Menus from a few of your favourite local restaurants
- Emergency information: fire, ambulance, nearest hospital…
- An extra universal phone charger
- A list of local amenities (groceries, gas, fun day trips etc.)
- A puzzle or game for rainy days
Of course, if your rental is an up-scale property, a bottle of bubbly and a basket of shelf-safe cheese, crackers and charcuterie options is a nice personal touch. Don’t forget some chocolate!
If you need fresh eyes on your property, book a consultation. We can review your property, help you prioritize where to invest, and offer some tips. We offer in-person or virtual consultations and can do a walk-thru with you to give some pro feed-back.
For everyone’s sake please update your property. There are far too many photos of brown lumpy furniture and that image never tugs at anyone’s heart-strings. A dated rental property won’t be appealing online. People are accustomed to hotel level experiences at airbnb prices.
Your online presence is everything! Invest in your property and you will be rewarded with great reviews, repeat customers, and you will maximize rental income.
My standard disclaimer: Please note, some of these items may be offered through affiliate links which means I could get a small commission if you order. That will never influence what I find lovely and want to share with you. I always offer suggestions I would buy for my home or recommend to a client. Also, rest assured it won’t affect the price you would otherwise pay.