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How to Make Your Vacation Home a Money-Making Machine

Whether you already own a family cottage or cabin or are looking to get into the second-home market, there are some solid ways you can improve your “rentability” and increase your property payout.

Every cottage or cabin owner likes to think their piece of paradise is the best on the (heavily wooded) block. Maybe it’s where your child took his first steps or where your sister got married, but when you start to consider turning your family vacation home into an income property, you may need to put sentimentality aside.


If you already own a property, research the costs of similar rentals in your area. Consider how much you’d ideally like to be making off your property, and how much time you’ll have to give up to earn that with renters.


If you’re looking for a new vacation home, decide upfront if this is an investment or for personal use, or both; that will inform what you spend your money on and where you might be more reserved. If it’s an investment, make sure you buy in a popular holiday area, which will help protect you against nose-diving resale values.


Being able to use and, more importantly, rent the property year-round is also key. The ideal location is one that hosts popular recreational activities in every season, such as fishing in the spring, boating in the summer, cycling in the fall and skiing in the winter. Your family may be out of luck when it comes to high-season cottage time, but it’s necessary to use the busy school breaks to make as much bank as possible.


You also have to look at the property itself and see if it’s even suitable to use as a rental. Does it have a separate guest cottage or room to build one? Increasing the number of units on the property means more possible income streams. But setting the per-night price goes beyond buildings.

The outdoor amenities including decks, gazebos and sitting areas are all important. Renters are looking for properties where they can really relax, entertain family, and soak up the sun.

Having well-maintained recreational items on the property, such as kayaks, outdoor games, air mattresses and sand toys, is also a big draw to potential renters without too much upfront cost. These are the little things that will set your property apart from the rest. Renters will feel like they’re getting more bang for their buck, with the potential to create even more memories with their family. If you do invest in recreational items, be sure to have life jackets for all ages, and always do a quality check after renters leave.


Once you’ve got everything in place, don’t forget the power of a beautiful picture. Hiring a professional photographer may seem like an extravagance, but since most people book their vacation homes online, having a topnotch property profile could make or break your moneymaking opportunities.

Reviews are also a huge part of listing your property online. On most sites, renters have the ability to write reviews after visiting your property, and will talk about everything from the cleanliness of the home, to your speediness in replying to questions. Little touches, like a welcome kit with information about how the property, or even a gift basket with some locally sourced goodies, go a long way in creating a happy experience for your renters, and ensuring you get top-notch reviews for your property.


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