Real estate investing has changed dramatically over the last several years.
With the rise of short-term rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, nearly anyone with even just a spare room has the ability to participate in the real estate investing market.
For vacation destinations in particular, the potential to make significant rental income is an attractive motivator for many aspiring investors.
This article will discuss several tips for investing in vacation rental property and teach you the basics of getting started as a new real estate investor.
Understanding Vacation Rental Investing
While some vacation rental investors are the sole owners of their properties, new tactics like rental arbitrage are strategies where investors lease multiple properties without direct ownership.
This strategy allows investors to accumulate a substantial amount of vacation rentals without overleveraging with mortgages and taking on the additional risks of homeownership.
However, regardless of which strategy you choose for your vacation rental investing business, here is a quick overview of how vacation rental investing works:
- Property Selection: The rental property investing process begins with choosing the right property. Location is crucial, as properties in vacation destinations or areas with high tourism tend to perform better.
- Property Purchase: After identifying a suitable property, you’ll need to finance its purchase. This can be done through a combination of personal funds, traditional mortgages, or business loans.
- Furnishing and Amenities: Vacation rentals are typically fully furnished and equipped with amenities that travelers expect, such as kitchen appliances, Wi-Fi internet access, entertainment systems, and comfortable furnishings.
- Listing the Property: Once the property is ready, you’ll create a listing on one or more vacation rental platforms. The top vacation rental listings often have high-quality photos and detailed information about the property and its amenities.
- Guest Bookings: Travelers interested in staying at your vacation rental will book their stay online through the platform. Communication with guests is important to address inquiries and provide instructions to ensure a smooth check-in and check-out process.
- Guest Experience: Providing a positive guest experience is crucial for receiving positive reviews and securing repeat bookings. This involves maintaining the property in good condition and quickly addressing guest concerns.
» MORE: How to Be a Property Manager
Advantages of Investing in Vacation Rental Properties
Vacation rental investing is becoming more and more popular as investors are exposed to new and innovative ways to start investing in real estate.
Here are the most significant benefits you’ll find when you decide to start investing in vacation rentals.
Rental Income Potential
Vacation rentals often offer higher rental income potential compared to traditional long-term rentals.
During peak tourist seasons, the demand for short-term accommodations can drive up rental rates significantly. This means you can earn more income in a shorter period, helping you to potentially cover your expenses and generate higher profits.
Flexibility for Personal Use
One of the major benefits of vacation rental investing is the ability to use the property for personal vacations. This allows you to enjoy the property yourself while generating income when you’re not using it.
The flexibility of vacation rentals can be particularly appealing if you want to have a second home in a desirable location without the financial burden.
Adding vacation rentals to your investment portfolio diversifies your exposure to the real estate market.
If you already have long-term rental properties, vacation rentals provide a different income stream with its own set of market dynamics.
Vacation properties located in tourist hotspots often experience strong appreciation over time. These areas tend to attract consistent demand due to their appeal to travelers.
As the property’s value increases, you can potentially sell it for a higher price in the future and capitalize on the capital gains from the sale.
Vacation rental owners often take advantage of various tax benefits that come with real estate. These include deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, maintenance expenses, and depreciation.
Depreciation in particular can be a powerful tax advantage, allowing you to deduct a portion of the property’s value each year and reduce your taxable income.
Additionally, tax benefits can extend to other expenses related to the property’s management and maintenance, such as property management fees, utilities, cleaning services, and even travel expenses if you need to visit the property for maintenance or management purposes.
Financial Considerations of Vacation Rentals
Investing in a vacation rental property can be a lucrative venture, but it comes with several financial considerations that you should evaluate before making a decision.
Here are some key financial aspects to keep in mind:
Initial Investment Costs
Calculate all upfront costs, including the property’s purchase price, closing costs, property inspection fees, and potential renovation expenses.
Additionally, investors should choose furnishings and décor that are cost-effective and complement the property and its existing features.
Vacation rental properties also come with ongoing operational expenses that can impact your profitability, including:
- Property management fees
- Property taxes
- Homeowners association (HOA) fees
- Home repairs
- Homeowners insurance
Investors should do plenty of research on the local market and potential expenses before signing on the dotted line.
Rental Income and Occupancy Rates
Start researching the average rental income you can expect and the typical occupancy rates throughout the year in your area, as seasonal fluctuations and local events can greatly impact your rental income.
Look at historical data and consult local real estate agents or property management companies for insights.
Regulations and Legal Considerations
Different locations have varying regulations regarding vacation rentals. This includes zoning laws, rental permits, taxes, and local rental regulations regarding short-term leases.
Some areas also have restrictions on how often you can rent out a property, so be sure to factor these considerations into your financial projections.
Risk and Return on Investment (ROI)
Before investing in your first property, do your best to assess the potential risk and ROI of the investment. Properties that don’t show a strong potential for high returns could end up being poor investments that cost you money in the long run.
Market Demand and Location
Like we touched on previously, the location of your vacation rental property impacts its attractiveness to potential renters.
Properties in areas with attractions, beautiful scenery, or proximity to highly-anticipated events tend to have higher demand.
Choosing a Vacation Rental Platform
As we mentioned, there are various vacation rental platforms you can choose from when listing your property.
As a beginner, we recommend starting with just one of these sites initially. Once you get some experience and bookings under your belt, you may consider listing your property on multiple sites for more exposure and booking potential.
Here are some of the most popular vacation rental platforms to consider:
Airbnb is one of the most well-known vacation rental platforms and allows individuals to list, discover, and book accommodations around the world.
These range from entire homes and apartments to unique dwellings like treehouses and even castles.
Hosts on Airbnb tend to pay higher fees than other platforms, but the exposure from the Airbnb brand recognition may lead to more bookings and exposure.
Airbnb is popular in nearly all areas of the country and abroad. However, it’s important to assess the competition in your potential area to confirm people are actively searching for short-term rentals.
Vrbo is another major player in the vacation rental market and focuses on offering whole homes for rent for families and larger groups.
The platform allows property owners to list their homes and provides travelers with a wide range of options for various types of getaways.
Vrbo may have better commissions compared to Airbnb, but this platform is only viable for investors with standalone homes in limited areas around the United States.
» MORE: Airbnb vs. Vrbo Review
While mostly known for hotel bookings, Booking.com also offers a selection of vacation rentals like apartments, homes, and other accommodations.
While Booking.com is known for their catchy commercials, Consumer Affairs rated the company 1.1 stars from over 4,000 reviews of past customers. One customer wrote that Booking.com “offers nothing but disappointments, lack of customer support, and an utterly fraudulent experience.”
However, the platform still has its merits and shouldn’t be ruled out.
TripAdvisor’s website has a vacation rental section that lets travelers search for and book rentals based on reviews, ratings, and location.
It features a variety of vacation properties, including houses, apartments, and condos meant for travelers in many different areas and vacation hotspots.
While TripAdvisor is mostly known for their reviews and recommendations on restaurants and things to do, their vacation rental investing platform should still be a consideration for new investors.
Marketing Your Vacation Rental Property
While you may have a beautiful property in mind to start your vacation rental business, you’ll need to invest in marketing to make sure it gets maximum exposure to secure frequent bookings.
That’s why we recommend to:
- Take High-Quality Photos and Videos: Visual content is essential in the vacation rental market. Invest in professional photography and create a virtual tour or video walkthrough of your property for potential guests to view. Your goal should be to highlight the property’s unique features, amenities, and overall ambiance for guests to take in.
- Optimize Listings on Online Platforms: When listing your vacation rental property on online platforms, try to create a detailed and engaging listing with a compelling property description. Use keywords that travelers commonly search for to increase your property’s visibility in search results.
- Try Local Partnerships: Establish connections with local businesses such as restaurants, tour operators, and event organizers. Many local businesses will be willing to collaborate with investors who recommend their services while they do the same for your property.
The Bottom Line
Investing in vacation rental properties can be your ticket to financial freedom and passive income this year. It’s undoubtedly one of the best ways to get started investing in real estate without needing to physically own properties.
Do you want to crush real estate investing this year? Check out the rest of our blog and resources at CrushingREI.com.
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