How to turn your home into a vacation rental

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This is a step-by-step guide and assessment article on how to turn your home into a vacation rental.

The vacation rental industry has spawned into an enormous multi-billion dollar market that has taken shape and has been evolving world wide over the past few decades. A multitude of online services have followed, assisting vacation rental property owners to now effectively market their vacation rental property online for various different monthly and annual price points.

In addition to online services that simply allow you to list your property on their Website for people to inquire about, entirely new companies have emerged focused around the vacation rental industry. These companies - which are inherently brokers - are now attempting to take some of the pains & hassles of renting & managing vacation rental properties for owners by taking a percentage of the gross rental amount and providing all of the accounting, advertising, and turn-over work for the properties.

However, despite the many large vacation rental companies that are out on the market today, property owners are still turning to the do-it-yourself version of renting out their vacation rentals. There is an element of satisfaction in preparing your own property for rental, marketing it, then seeing the fruits of your labor when the rentals actually come pouring in. While this is not for everyone, people with time on their hands generally like to take the reigns when it comes to renting out their own properties.

So, how do you prepare your property for vacation rental, and how do you actually market & get sales? Well, here are 10 steps to follow for actually getting your property ready for rental and getting it rented:

1. Determine if your Property is a suitable Vacation Rental - While there are many vacation rentals on the market today, it certainly helps if your property has unique features. It is important to determine whether or not your property is marketable and desirable. You should ask yourself the following questions: Is my property in a frequented geographic area? Is my property's location desirable (i.e. on the water, great views, or close to landmarks such as theme parks, etc.). Is my property up-to-date enough and have the amenities that many travelers are looking for such as high-speed internet, jacuzzi tubs, etc.

2. Prepare the Interior & Exterior of your Property for Rental - Once you've determined that your property is a suitable vacation rental, it's time to make sure that both the interior and exterior of your property are up to snuff for travelers. When people travel and rent vacation homes or condos, the general rule of thumb is to make sure that everything works, nothing is broken and that the property in its entirety is very presentable.

3. Locate a Good House Keeping Service - If you've made the decision to rent your property as a vacation rental, it's a very good idea to locate a good house cleaning service or maid that can clean the property for you once your guests depart. Of course, you could do this on your own, however, if your bookings begin to rise in frequency, most owners tend to want to outsource the cleaning of their property.

4. Create a System for Providing a Key or Entry Instructions to Guests - If you are going to rent your property as a vacation rental, you will need to somehow provide a key to your guests. Most property owners generally tend to setup a lockbox on their property which can be purchased at your local hardware store. Other property owners use property agents to provide the key or simply meet the guests at the property themselves to walk through the property and provide entry instructions, keys, and other property details.

5. Provide Instructions for your Guests upon Arrival - With every property, there are certain things that you will want your vacation rental guests to know about upon entering such as how to use certain electronic components, where to place trash, whether or not to recycle, where extra linens and towels are located, what the rules of the neighborhood are (i.e. loud music, parties, etc.), and other elements. It's important to provide them with a set of instructions that they can clearly follow so that the experience is an enjoyable for not only yourself but for your guests as well.

6. Take high Quality Pictures of the Property and Surrounding Area - It's extremely important to take high quality photos of the property and to archive them in digital format on your computer or other digital media disc. Photos speak volumes for your property and will make the difference between a successful vacation rental property and unsuccessful one. In addition, staging the property properly is an added plus to give people the sense of what they could be doing in your property. You should take photos with a camera that is at least 5 megapixels. If you can't get a high quality digital camera, you should hire a professional photographer to take the photos. This will be well worth it in the long run.

7. Prepare a Description of the Property, Amenities, nearby Activities and Bedroom/Room Layout - It's very critical to provide potential guests with accurate information regarding your property. You'll need to put together a descriptive paragraph or two regarding the property, a list of the amenities & activities, and room/bed layout. You'll use this information in marketing your property on various Websites throughout the Internet.

8. Decide whether or not you Wish to Utilize a Rental Agent or Property Management Company - You can still 'do-it-yourself' and also utilize rental agents and property management companies as well to rent your vacation rental. You'll need to make sure that you keep an updated list of your own rental dates if you're renting the property as well as using a rental agent, however, it is possible to be non-exclusive with rental agents and property management companies. One such agency to use would be (located in Los Angeles, CA).

9. Purchase Vacation Rental Software to Assist with the Management of your Vacation Rental Property - While we all want to think we can do everything ourselves, sometimes we may take on more than we can chew. It's important to find a good vacation rental software system that you can utilize to assist you with booking and managing your vacation rental property or properties.

10. Begin Marketing your Property and Booking Reservations - Now that all the leg work is done, you can actually begin to market & book your own property. The process is actually rather simple and straightforward. There are several sites that have been created to assist you with this and ads range from $199/year to $399/year and up depending on which Website you utilize.

Make sure you have or create a good rental contract when renting your home - you should consult an attorney regarding this.

Take out Landlord Insurance against any accidental damage and third party liability caused by tenants in your vacation home.

Things You'll Need

A house, apartment, condo or suite located close to a vacation area.
A good digital camera (if you don't have one borrow one) 7 megapixels or greater.
At some time as you begin booking vacationers you may want to accuire a vacation rental software to keep track of rentals from, or a complete and affordable software program, such as (, for managing all aspects of vacation rentals including bookings and fees, cleaning schedules, payment schedules, creating property web pages and calendars on your own website, replying to inquiries, auto-generating agreements, emails and quotes, accepting online bookings, plus various types of reports for analyzing your rental business. Even features for reporting to owners and tracking commissions (in case you eventually decide to manage units for other owners also). has a free 60 day trial you can download and try out. It also has features to interface with and others.

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