We all know that our year round homes are a reflection of our personal tastes and family lifestyles, but what about your vacation rental home? Our focus should shift to meeting not just our needs as homeowners, but also to meet the needs of our renters in order to drive up our occupancy and rental rates. If we think of our rental home as a “product” that our renters are buying, it is easier to see what improvements need to take place.
If your 2012 New Year’s resolutions include renovations to your rental property, from a homeowner standpoint, these renovations should take into account ease of maintenance and product life cycle, as well as how easy items are to clean. From a renter’s or “customer’s” perspective, the needs are quite different: Is there room for my family and belongings? Is this home neat, clean and uncluttered? Does this property offer me a touch of luxury, a place to relax, a sense that I am on vacation?
Let’s apply these notions to some areas of the home that impact a vacationer’s choice of property. If it is time to remodel or refresh a kitchen, look at a product from both a renter’s and a homeowner’s perspective. Granite counters may seem like an extravagance, but they are very easy to maintain, they always look clean, and they offer renters a bit of luxury. And think about how quickly a glass cook top range can be cleaned, as opposed to messy burner pans.
When it is time to remodel your bathroom, cleanliness is important to both homeowners and renters. Let’s face it, stained or moldy grout is a turn off! Think of replacing tub and shower enclosures with modular units that replace tiled surfaces and always look clean and neat. Your turnovers will be a breeze and your renters will be appreciative. Replace old sinks with the largest vanity you can fit into the space. This allows your renters plenty of room for their belongings. Again, a granite vanity top with an under mount sink is easy to clean and looks spectacular.
If larger scale projects are not in this year’s budget, move your attention to your outdoor space. Add clean, comfortable seating and dining areas outside that accommodate the number of vacationers your property supports. Think long-term when it comes to outdoor furnishings – although teak will not rot, it does require yearly maintenance to look good. Polywood products made from recycled plastic do not rot and are maintenance free. Another option is metal seating that can be refreshed with a can of spray paint. For comfort, Sunbrella cushions that hold up to Cape Cod weather and remain dry during rainstorms will last for years and won’t fade. As a final touch, a direct plumbed gas grill will benefit both renters and homeowners alike. No more running for propane refills, and this is a luxury your renters will appreciate.
If you are thinking about furniture purchases for the living room, one of the best options are slip covered sofas and chairs. Nothing says “Beach Vacation” better than a white sofa/chair arrangement. When I made this decision, many folks gasped “White in a rental property? What are they thinking?” Cotton canvas slip covers come off easily, and with a bit of bleach look brand new out of the washer/dryer. I bought an extra set of covers, so I always have a clean set. Again, this look is easy to maintain for the homeowner, and customers rave about the “beachy” feel.
Having your “product” (also known as your rental home) on a maintenance and upgrade schedule will ensure your property shines for your renters, driving up both occupancy and rental income for years to come.
We’d love to hear how you keep your rental home updated and appealing to vacationers year after year!
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