Vacation Homeowners – Achieving a Balance between Reward and Risk


As a second homeowner for just shy of the one year mark, I’ve learned many lessons, and offer tips which I can pass on to readers from my personal experience. All my lessons were hard-fought, and being a long distance landlord has no how-to manual that I’ve found.

Dreams can come true

Of the many trials and tribulations, and eventual rewards, be prepared for the unexpected, the complex bureaucracies of differences between state procedures, manner of doing business, cultural aspects, time frames, and return on investment, just to name a few.

Make friends with mortgage people, insurance brokers, financial advisors, tax personnel, home owner associations, home watch staff, marketing and booking companies, and their various intermediaries.

Have faith, trust in others’ ability to represent you in your absence and hope that you will have a bright renting future once you are established on the circuit. Use creativity in terms of how to market, never taking for granted that your property will somehow rise to the top like the cream in your coffee without a lot of continuous labor.

I try to be a smart consumer and street smart when I have to be. Management companies may be there to entice absentee landlords with their all-inclusive packages of services, but occasionally, the holes begin to show.

Make it the best it can be

DonnaCondoIn reality, the only one who is invested enough to make your property just like home for prospective renters is the owner!  You can follow the crowd and do the standard things recommended, or you can go the extra mile with amenities.  However, there is always the risk to overdo, and being too enticing in this pretend hotel status (as the tax people classify me), can have a few down sides.

Renters, on occasion, have been known for sticky fingers, taking license to remove an owners’ belongings, however small or large. It has happened. It hurts. It’s disillusioning. It makes one mad!  Like a hotel, do everything you can to prevent such occurrences from happening again.

If lucky enough for the property to be located with a view, it can be worth its weight in gold in what guests are willing to pay for it.  The view from the 8th hole of the golf course where my property is located is wonderful and serene and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Create an atmosphere in which guests feel welcome and aspire towards repeat business. Although you want guests to respect your property, absentee owners have to take certain preventative measures to ensure there will be no major issues arise with guests and they will continue to return.  On the way out the door, you want them to have had a great experience and to sign your guest book with a five-star recommendation.

Wanting guests to intrinsically treat the property as their home, there’s no way for them to know that you have sacrificed so much to obtain it as the home for your future.

Finding balance

11412213_833264916759533_6614042286648077555_nI’m now divided into two frames of mind. One is what appeals to me personally about the home, the other which must take priority, is what appeals to guests.  This dichotomy has been an education and a learning curve. I’m enjoying the changes in home décor (to a point) to rid it of its former “Jungle mania” from the original long time owner.

Here is a short list of things to help to ensure that, from the owner’s point of view, a balance can be achieved with success in sight if you put in the time and effort.

  1. Adopt the mindset that everything you are providing is temporary, and that in the future it can always change to suit your personal preferences.
  2. Do the homework and hire people who can be trusted to manage affairs in your absence such as marketing and booking companies, home watch companies, financial counselors, as well as  attorneys, insurance tax personnel from the local area who know the rules and procedures.
  3. Become familiar with the staff in the property’s home owners association and make friends with them. They can also be a tremendous help to troubleshoot matters.
  4. Enlist the help of local friends who will watch out for your interests in a pinch and be an extra set of eyes and ears.
  5. Make upgrades that are reasonable and expected by renters without going over the top.
  6. Make wise decisions that balance the need for income versus personal comfort level. (Do you really want college kids every weekend, pets, or such a quick turnover of renters that all of your profits are eaten up on service fees?)

Companies I Recommend –

Evolve Vacation Rental Network;;

Coastal Carolina Home

Fall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a wonderful time to relax on the terrace of my vacation home overlooking the 8th hole of Pine Hills Golf Course. CLICK HERE for details and to make a reservation for your next beach vacation.

Ahhhh….. Serenity!


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