There Has Never Been a Better Time
by John V. Gallant
There has never been a better time to place your second home into a vacation rental program. Have you been worried about renting? Your home can actually be better off in a vacation rental management program, maintained by professionals, than it would be sitting empty. Vacation rentals are a significant source of income which can do more than just defray costs, it can actually protect and improve your investment!
The addition of a property manager means your home will be well looked after, and when problems do arise, they will be rectified immediately, rather than being left for you to find weeks or months later. Many of our owners use rental income to make improvements. Some add landscaping, a pool, or other fun projects they wouldn’t have contemplated without this extra income from rentals.
And, you may not have heard about this, but there is a strong demand for off-season rentals which have been overlooked by owners and property managers alike!
Most owners have two main goals when renting their property. Protecting their assets, and maximizing their profit. These goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive with a good property manager and rental agent.
If you had time to take on a second job, you could more than likely do this yourself, but if you don’t, you are going to want to find someone who has the time, talent, and temperament to fill the position. It may seem like a simple proposition, you have a gorgeous home on the water, someone else wants to stay in paradise for a while, and has money they want to give to you in exchange.
Only, it just isn’t that simple. There is sales tax and and a tourist development tax due on rental periods under six months. It is imperative to have amazing pictures of the home, grounds, and pool that showcase the best attributes of the home and property to attract more potential renters. Maintenance and construction projects should be engaged by a competent property manager using a licensed contractor, if for no other reason than to reduce exposure to litigation.
Complying with rental laws is essential. There is now a full time compliance office working within The Village of Islamorada, and fines and penalties associated with non-compliance are almost a certainty. Short term rental licenses must have been applied for and approved. Properties hoping to be approved are required to pass a fairly rigorous fire and life safety inspection conducted by The Village of Islamorada’s Fire Department. Pools need to have fencing, smoke detectors need to communicate with each other, and a smoke detector for the hearing impaired must be available for guests that require one.
Keeping a master calendar is a must. There is no greater failure than a rental agent double booking a vacation rental. Especially if it happens to be a $36,000 per month home, double booked during season. I’ve received one of those calls from a panicked agent, trying to find an alternative location for their guest. There is no fix at the last minute for it, especially when most beachfront homes are booked two years in advance.
These recurring tasks may seem daunting enough, but we haven’t even gotten to guest issues yet. Fun stuff, like unclogging a drain in the wee hours, raking seaweed off the beach, or removing a scorpion from a bathtub.
While we are on the topic of guest relations. You, or your agent, should always meet your guests when they check in. First, to ensure they have a quality stay and become repeat visitors. Second, to verify the 6 people who have booked the reservation hasn’t doubled to 12 people who plan on reenacting the most tasteless moments from their favorite Jimmy Buffet song, “Gypsies in the Palace.”
Checking up on your guests can be difficult if you are living in New York, and it is fairly important to success in vacation rentals. Especially when faced with characters like Snake, Johnny D, and Everlasting Moonie; who may be plotting to raid your liquor cabinet at this very moment.
Dropping off a gift basket at check in, mentioning that you are always close by if they need anything. It’s like killing two stones with one bird, arriving guests feel appreciated, and you are likely protecting against a house party crafted by a few misguided Parrotheads.
While I have not run into all of these difficulties, and I may have exaggerated slightly for the purposes of amusing you, there are most certainly a great number of challenges regarding rentals. For the most part, these challenges can be overcome by finding the right property manager and rental manager.
If you have made it this far in the article, I shall assume you are either intrigued by the idea of an agent/property manager and creating a source of revenue from vacation rentals, or you are in a waiting room somewhere with nothing else to read. Either way, here comes a sales pitch. This article is within the advertising section after all.
Florida Keys Vacation Brokers is a full service rental agent and property manager. I have 20+ years in the fields of real estate management, property management, and construction management. We offer concierge services through Islamorada Elite, housekeeping services, maintenance and construction through a state certified building contractor, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc. We are building relationships with agents around the world to find guests year round.
If you are dissatisfied with your current arrangement, or are just looking to add more dates, we will welcome your call and your business. We are 7 years strong in The Florida Keys, and growing.