Owing a vacation rental in the mountains

 

Have you thought about investing in a home to use as a vacation rental, or buying land to build a vacation rental?  It can be a business that offsets some of your annual expenses, i.e. taxes, insurance, and may be self-sustaining.  What I mean by self-sustaining is that you may earn enough revenue to cover the cost of operating expense such as utilities, supplies, maintenance/repairs, property management fees.  However, it’s an undertaking that you may want to have some guidance with before making the decision that it’s the right place, and right venture for you. It’s important for anyone considering this undertaking to be well informed of all that’s involved.

I have managed vacation rentals for homeowners, (and myself) in the Spring Creek area near the popular, and historic mountain town of Hot Springs.  I believe that I have “fine-tuned” the process of managing a vacation rental through several years of experience.  However, as my focus has shifted to real estate listing and selling, I will not manage any additional rentals.  

Additionally, I have been very much of a “hands-on” property manager since I live within 15 minutes of any of the properties that I’ve managed (at one point I managed 6 properties). “Hands-on” means I turn on lights, adjust heat/air temperatures, check hot tub chemicals/temperature, etc. before guests arrive. I’m not sure that this is a service that larger management companies provide especially if they are located an hour away from this area. My business has allowed the property owners to have very minimal responsibility for the day to day operation of their rental property. I also shop for supplies,often meet repair people at the homes, have started fires in wood stoves for guests who didn’t know how to….all this being done for owners that are within an hour of their properties but don’t assume those responsbilities.  Maybe you can get the idea that the services I’ve always provided for clients can be very time consuming, especially considering I have other obligations with my real estate business.

So, often real estate clients who are interested in starting a vacation rental business ask me how to go about it. First, I inform them that I will not be accepting any new clients that want a vacation rental property manager. At the same time I suggest that they CAN do it themselves, I even offer to share information about “how-to” with them. But, in  my “crystal ball” with those that are serious about this endeavour… I can forsee lots of phone calls, and e-mails … lots of questions! As much as I like to help these individuals it would be very time consuming, so I have concluded that the best way to share this “how-to” information with anyone thinking about entering the vacation rental business, is by writing a guide to vacation rental owning and management.  This guide will be generic in some respects meaning that some information will be applicable in any geographic area, but other information will be more specific to the requirements of Madison County.  

The purpose of the guide will be to provide specific information to anyone desiring to invest in a vacation rental in the Madison County area, since I’m most familiar with it. Specifically, the Hot Springs area that offers lots of popular recreational activities such as hiking (Applachian trail passed through the town of Hot Springs), rafting- French Broad River in Hot Springs, fishing, sightseeing, events/festivals, and also simply relaxing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There are numerous vacation rentals in the area that operate year round to accommodate the people that are drawn to this are for all that it offers.

The guide is a work in progress, and I don’t have a completion date, but expect that it will be in 30-60 days.  I will make it available, for a reasonable cost (I think anyone will find information within it that is invaluable), to anyone that has an interest in starting their own vacation rental.  This guide will “cut to the chase” with lots of information that will save you from learning by “trial and error“. I was self-taught when I built a vacation rental years ago, so I can attest to the “trial and error” aspect of being a vacation rental owner. Now, through my experience as a realtor, and property manager for others I have expanded my knowledge. Watch for a future blog with more details about the guide, and when it will be available. 

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