How to Turn Your Home Into a Vacation Rental

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
August 20, 2018

Have you considered using your second home as a vacation rental, but weren’t sure where to start? Or if it would be worth it for you?

Vacation rentals have become an increasingly lucrative business in recent years. Second homeowners are experiencing huge success with short-term rental across the globe. For some, it draw is offsetting costs and giving purpose to their property when it’s not in use. For others, the goal is to turn a profit with a solid secondary source of income.

No matter your reason for turning your second home into a vacation rental property, it won’t happen with a snap of the fingers. Follow these seven steps to transform a beloved property into a guest-ready, income-driving vacation destination.

1. Take Down Your Family Photos

When guests enter a vacation rental, they want to feel like it’s their home away from home — not someone else’s.

Remove family photos and other personal items before you photograph your property and open to door to travelers. The blank slate you create will become a space that any guest can see themselves enjoying, and it will lead to more bookings in the long run.

2.  Stock Up on the Necessities

When you decide to turn your home into a short-term rental, you actually have an advantage over those who are just starting out with a new property. Guests will need essential supplies to make their experiences comfortable, and you’ll likely have a number of key items already on hand. Nevertheless, it’s important to go room by room and make sure you’re supplying the proper inventory for every stay.

3. Keep a Locked Closet and Cabinet

Whether you intend to block off time for personal visits to your property or just use it as an investment, it’s almost inevitable that certain belongings will need a secure home on site. You’ll also want to keep supplies needed by members of your cleaning and maintenance staff out of sight for happy-go-lucky vacationers.

Designate a locked closet or cabinet to store tools, supplies, and personal items you don’t want guests to have access to.  It’ll create a five-star, vacation-focused experience for travelers, and provide added peace of mind that any items you need to leave behind are safe and sound.

4. Set House Rules

Setting rules for your vacation rental is much easier said than done. How many rules are too many rules? How many are too few?

When setting rules, picture yourself in the guest’s shoes. Think about things that they may need to know about your rental and the neighborhood. Here are some things you may want to ask yourself:

  • Will you allow pets?
    • If yes, will you charge extra per pet and what types of pets will you allow?
    • If no, will you charge a penalty fine for bringing a pet?
  • Do doors need to be locked or closed at all times?
  • Can guests use the washer/dryer?
  • Is there a protocol for trash, sheets, and dishes upon check-out?
  • Are there neighborhood quiet hours?

House rules should be posted on the fridge, or in a highly visible area. We also suggest including them in a Welcome Book.

5. Create an Availability Calendar

Birthdays, graduations, family weekends when do you have even an inkling that you’ll be using your property? If you’re worried about renting out your home and not having the freedom of coming whenever, you may want to start by overestimating how much you’ll visit so that you won’t have to worry about it getting booked by guests during those times.

Then, sit down and map out an availability calendar to block off dates. If the time gets closer and you realize you won’t be staying after all, you can always open the calendar back up so that guests can book.

If you’re more serious about making money and aren’t too worried about having the flexibility to visit, block off your calendar as little as possible. As difficult as it may be to give up your beach condo for the fourth of July, or your ski in/ski out townhome for Christmas, these big holidays are when you can make the biggest bang for your buck.

6. Get a Lockbox or Keyless Entry for Check-Ins

The biggest problem that can occur when a guest arrives at a property is not being able to access the rental. Consider getting a lockbox or keyless entry system to ensure that guests can get into the property smoothly.

A lockbox is a box that holds the keys to the house, while a keyless entry unlocks the door using a simple code. Both help guarantee a seamless check-in, which is an incredibly important part of the guest experience. If the check-in goes awry or is difficult for the guests, then it will set a bad tone for their entire trip.

7. Give Your Home a Deep Clean

Before you can start letting guests visit your property, you must do a deep clean.

A thorough cleaning requires much more than just washing the sheets on every bed and scrubbing the counters a little harder than usual. A true deep clean is a top-to-bottom wash of your entire property. Download our free cleaning checklists to help streamline the process.

While some homeowners take care of this on their own, cleaning companies are a great resource to have as you start your vacation rental business. If you’re looking to hire a company to not only do the initial deep clean, but also to do the cleaning between stays, then use this as an opportunity to explore different options. This way, you’ll understand what to budget for and you’ll have time to find service partners you trust and can rely on.

Get Started in Vacation Rental with Evolve

Turning a second home into a vacation rental is an exciting process, but it requires a ton of work. Taking steps to transform your property from personal to professional is only one piece of the puzzle; you’ll need to get organized and strategic to score bookings, earn revenue, and beat out the competition.

Check out our full range of owner tips to set yourself up for vacation rental success. From smart marketing tips and dynamic pricing strategies to tax guidelines and the secret to five-star reviews, you’ll find tons of intel to help you hit the ground running and confidently reach your goals.

For even more exclusive insights, download our free guide below. In it you’ll find insider tips for making your vacation rental a major success.

We’re here to help you earn more and stress less — even from the beginning of your rental journey.

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