My ideas are based on giving your guests the best vacation rental experience possible and in return, receiving the highest rate of return (both financially and emotionally rewarding). I believe, if you treat your guests (renters) with respect and make them feel special, in the same manner as you would treat your own family and friends, your vacation property will be treated with the same respect and any potential damage should be minimized . This will help with repeat renters and excellent referrals for your home.
Renting a Vacation Home is different from renting a year-round unit: In most cases, the owner can earn more income with less potential damage from a short-term "vacation" rental than an annual lease. For instance, if you were to charge $ 1,000 per month on a monthly based rental with an annual agreement, you would earn $ 12,000 at year end. However, if you were to rent out your vacation home on a weekly basis for $ 1,000 as a vacation rental, your possible gross income could be $ 52,000 at year end. Of course, that would depend on the location of your property. Can it be used year round as a vacation rental or is it seasonal? Is it in a popular location? What kind of attractions are nearby?
Amenities: My basic rule of thumb: Any amenity that you would expect when you are on vacation is what your guest (renter) would also expect. The more that you provide, the more your rental will stand out from others. Your guests will remember all the extras that you provided. And, the more you give, the more you can charge and the less your guests will have to bring with them. I always suggest providing towels, linens, toiletries, cleaning service (at their own expense) a washer / dryer, barb-que, beach chairs and cleaning supplies. Some owners think the renters will "take home" extra items, but that has never happened to me.
What else to provide: Some owners leave a bottle of wine, or a basket filled with goodies, plus brochures for nearby attractions and always included a Welcome Book with a list of instructions on how to use everything in their home and includes rental rules.
Real estate agent or Rent by Owner? This is strictly a personal preference. If someone were to use a real estate agent, I would suggest you get some references and follow up on them. I would choose a company that has been around for many years. Be sure to get a complete outline of their duties and fees and how they handle emergencies. Find out who will meet your guests at the time of arrival and who will take care of the house cleaning. if they provide the cleaning is that an extra charge or is it included in the initial fees. You really need to have clear on who takes care of what and how much the fee will be for each item. However, managing your own vacation rental is really not that difficult if you have a system in place.
What to charge: There are ways to determine these fees. A rental comparison for your area and what you are offering will help you determine what you should charge. Remember to include additional expenses ie cleaning the unit and supplies.
Challenges when renting from afar? Finding the right person to check on your rental property and deciding who will clean your vacation unit. How can you access this problem? If you have a plumber, electrician or maintenance person that you trust, you may want to ask them if they want to check your vacation property on a regular basis. Ask what their fee is and find out if they could include a maintenance fee as well. And, if they are available for emergency calls as well.
Hiring a cleaning person: You could use a local cleaning service or ask a neighbor who you trust if they would be interested in doing it for you as a business opportunity for them. Ask other home owners who they use. Always get references and check them out.
Potential problems and how to avoid them: Most home owners are concerned about potential damage in their second home. But, if you take the necessary precautions and careful planning, you can avoid most of these issues.