How to Promote Your Vacation Home Rental

In the past, promotion of the availability of a vacation home rental was limited to a few local avenues – print advertising, flyers handed out or hung up around town, postcards left in local establishments, and word of mouth. With the advent of the Internet, a new option has been created for marketing vacation rentals. You can now promote your rental home across the globe relatively inexpensively and easily. You can create your own website or you can take advantage of listing sites that draw the traffic in for you.In this first part of a forthcoming series of articles, you will learn the basics of how to promote a vacation rental home. Each additional installment in this series will go into more detail about marketing vacation rentals in a variety of ways.Marketing Vacation Rentals with Individual WebsitesIt has become very easy for anyone to buy a domain and hosting package and promote a vacation home rental online. Plus, you don’t have to know HTML or be an experienced web designer to take advantage of marketing vacation rentals in this way; there are many programs that have been created that make the creation of a slick-looking website easy. You want to make sure that your vacation home rental site looks as professional as possible and contains pictures of the inside and out as well as details about all of the amenities available. You can also include information about price and availability if you wish, or you can require that interested parties contact you for more information. And make sure that you have a way for visitors to contact you!

At its core, your vacation home rental site should serve as an online version of a glossy brochure that you might hand out to prospective renters. You will learn more about ways to create great sites for marketing vacation rentals and how to get them noticed in future articles in this series.Vacation Home Rental SitesWhether you want to create your own website for your vacation home rental property or just want an easy way to advertise your home, you may be interested in looking into the benefits of vacation rental websites. These sites make marketing vacation rentals easy by compiling listings of homes for rent by owners and/or companies to help bring the renters to your door. Many vacation home rental sites charge a small fee for your listing but allow you to incorporate photographs, text, and a link to your own site. These sites may also make it easy for renters to get in touch with the owners of homes. Future articles will teach you what to look for in a vacation home rental site and how to promote a vacation rental alongside the many listings that are available.Marketing Vacation Rentals with Print Advertising – From Flyers to Newspaper AdsWhile the Internet is an extremely important tool in marketing vacation rentals, traditional marketing venues still can make a difference if you are looking to attract renters. You can create flyers with pictures of your house, prices, and a list of amenities that you can post in the town where your vacation home rental is located. This is an extremely inexpensive way to get noticed, but it is important to design your flyers with eye-catching images and easy-to-read text. You can also create postcards with this information that can be mailed to local households or placed in local stores for visitors and residents to pick up.Another option for marketing vacation rentals is to run advertisements in the classified section of any local newspaper. The downside to this is that you may wind up paying a lot for an ad that will only be seen by a limited number of people, but that same ad will be specifically targeted in the area for your vacation home rental and may get strong results.Preparing Your Vacation Home Rental PropertyNo matter how you choose to go about marketing vacation rentals, you will need to have photographs of your home taken to put on the web, in the newspaper, or in a flyer. Make sure that you prepare your home so that it looks its best – that the lawn is trimmed, that the pool area is tidy, that the windows are clean, and so on. Then, take a series of pictures from several angles of the home so that a prospective renter knows exactly what he or she will find. If you can, add something to your home that will make it stand out. For example, use brightly colored curtains, or take your photograph at night. Above all, make sure to give people a reason to look more closely at what you have to offer in a vacation home rental.

Word of MouthThe simplest and cheapest way for marketing vacation rentals is by word of mouth. Tell anyone and everyone that you have a home available. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell the people at the bank and at the grocery store. While the person you tell may not be the next person to rent your home, he or she may have a friend or relative who is in the market for a vacation home rental.ConclusionAbove is just a small sampling of options that you have for marketing vacation rentals so that they are booked around the year. Future articles will give you more in-depth information about these options as well as additional tips and ideas about how to promote a vacation rental successfully.

Vacation Homes: A Great Option For Family Fun

It’s vacation time! Lots of great places to see throughout Southern California-Disneyland, San Diego’s Zoo and SeaWorld, the fabulous beach events along California’s Gold Coast-the list goes on and on. But hotels and motels are almost always booked in the summer. They also lack the home-friendly accommodations kids and teens need to feel at home. All the more reason why today’s families increasingly choose vacation homes when they vacation away from home.Close to Popular DestinationsMany vacation homes are conveniently close to today’s most popular vacation destinations. Being just minutes away from these fun vacation spots can save you a lot of local travel time. If not within walking distance, many homes are close to public transportation or vans and shuttles operated by vacation destinations.

The Feel of a Real HomeVacation homes are designed to feel as close to your real home as possible-much more so than a motel or hotel. Families are increasingly discovering that these homes can be very accommodating to children and teens. That’s because they often have two or three bunk beds and several trundles. These allow children to share bedrooms. A number of these homes also have four bedrooms, which can sleep as many as 16 (for sports teams and girl/boy scouts groups). Some homes even have sofa sleepers in the family room.Lots of Entertainment OptionsTo keep kids, teens and parents entertained, many vacation homes provide a wealth of entertainment options–something they need after a day of vacationing, The homes feature action-packed gaming consoles like X-Box, DVD players and smart TVs, Also included are Foosball, Netflix, and Wi-Fi access for smartphones, tablets and laptops. These connectivity options provide plenty of information and entertainment for all ages.Private BBQs, Swimming Pools, Relaxing SpasKids, teens and especially parents need to relax after a busy day on rides and adventures. Vacation homes allow families to do what they usually are unable to do in a hotel or motel-make burgers, hot dogs or steaks on a BBQ–in complete privacy. No need to reserve public BBQs or share space with strangers. Most homes come with a spacious outdoor dining table and lots of chairs. They also feature a relaxing spa and/or hot tub-for the exclusive use of the family.

Home Cooked MealsUnlike hotels and motels, which offer inflexible (and costly) menus, most vacation homes allow families to prepare home-cooked meals that fit the unique preferences of their health and taste needs. The homes feature fully appointed kitchens that come with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and specious breakfast bars. The kitchens even include cooking utensils, dishes, flatware, pans, bakeware, and paper and cloth towels for added convenience.Affordable Cleaning OptionsHotel/motel laundry services can be really pricey for a family. Most vacation homes solve this problem by including a washing machine and dryer. Housekeeping services are also available to keep things nice and tidy while you’re vacationing.

The Top 7 Reasons Celebrities Are Flocking to Private Vacation Homes

It used to be that when celebrities went on vacation, they’d check into the biggest, fanciest hotel in town.  But these days, the rich and famous are skipping the big, public hotels in favor of a more exclusive, more private vacation option.  From Brad and Angelina, to Madonna, President Barack Obama,  movie, music and TV stars are spending their vacation time away from the crowds and the cameras, and hiding away in luxurious, private vacation homes.  Read on for the top 7 reasons why!1. PrivacyA vacation isn’t much of a vacation when you’re surrounded by adoring fans screaming for your autograph, or ducking paparazzi around every corner.  Which is why you don’t see major movie and TV stars spending their vacation time at hotels.  Instead, famous faces know that in order to really get away from it all, the key is to check in to a private vacation home.   Unlike hotels that cater to the public, a vacation home offers guests a real escape from the outside world, with a level of total privacy a hotel just can’t match.  So they can bare all by the pool without worrying about winding up on the cover of a tabloid next week.2. Space for their stuffThe rich and famous don’t typically travel light.  They may be heading out of town to get away from it all, but at the same time, they need to make sure they’re ready for anything – from lunch with the big-name director who happens to be in town to a formal dinner party on a yacht.   That’s why the stars tend to bring MORE than what they need, just in case.  Which is why they’re bypassing the big hotels and settling in to roomy vacation homes – where they have plenty of space for the tuxedo, the ball gown AND the scuba gear.

3. Room for an EntourageJust as they don’t travel light, celebs also don’t travel alone.  There’s the personal assistant, the personal trainer, the hair and makeup guy (or gal), plus family, friends, acquaintances and hangers on…in other words, more people than you can possibly fit in even the largest hotel suite.  And that’s why the stars are bringing the whole entourage to roomy vacation homes – where everyone can spread out and enjoy their time together.4. ExclusivityCelebrities like to stay on the cutting edge of trends – they don’t follow the herd and do what everybody else is doing.  Why should they, when they can afford to set the trends and set themselves apart from the crowd?  So instead of following the masses to whatever resort is popular each season, the stars prefer to create a vacation that is uniquely, exclusively theirs by escaping to a luxury vacation home.   After all, what could be more exclusive than your own, private paradise, reserved only for you and the people you want around you?5. Peace and QuietLet’s face it – people are noisy.   And people who have a lot of money to spend on fancy hotel rooms are no exception.  Their kids fight and splash in the pool.  They have parties at all hours of the night.   They argue, they laugh, they basically live their lives.  Which is fine for them.  But if you’re on vacation trying to get away from it all, it’s not necessarily fine for you.  No wonder so many celebrities are skipping noisy hotels altogether and opting to stay in peaceful, private vacation homes.  That way, if a wild party keeps them up all night, at least it will be their wild party!6. FreedomA vacation is the time to do what you want to do when you want to do it – and no one knows that better than celebrities, who are used to getting their own way.  But even the most luxurious hotel has limits.  Hankering for a late-night swim after the pool has closed?  No can do.  Feel like spending the day in your bathrobe without getting dressed?  You’ll not want to leave the privacy of your room if you stay in a hotel but a vacation home gives you the freedom to spend your vacation the way you like.  And if that means eating a grilled cheese sandwich in the pool at 2:30am, go for it!

7. LuxuryIn travel, as in their day-to-day lives, celebrities demand the best.  And they’re finding the best in luxurious, comfortable vacation homes.  Dining rooms where they can entertain friends.  Spacious living rooms where they can spread out and enjoy all the comforts of home.  Their own, private swimming pools and Jacuzzis.   With so many options, there’s no longer any reason to settle for less than the best.  Which probably explains why, when it comes to travel, vacation homes are topping the list of celebrity trends.So now you see why the rich and famous are making vacation home rentals such a fast-growing travel trend.  And the best part is, these advantages aren’t just for celebrities.

How to Purchase a Vacation Home With Friends or Family

You want a cottage by the sea, a chalet by a ski run or a lodge in the woods. But vacation homes are quite expensive, and most of us don’t have the time to care for a second home in addition to our primary residence? So, here is an idea: Split the financial obligations with a family member or friend! This article covers most of the important steps to learning how to purchase a vacation home.Partnering up sounds great on paper, but purchasing a vacation home with family and friends can be risky. After all, if things do not go well, it can spell the end of your friendship. Not to mention you may end up in a legal battle over the home. After all, you might already be commonly renting a vacation place with said friends or family. Or you could take turns using the house, so you don’t actually overlap.Still, this approach can also turn into an express lane to disaster if you don’t navigate the relationship with care and really learn how to purchase a vacation home.Do not panic! Before you sign on the dotted line, here are some important questions to protect your finances and also leave your ties of friendship or family intact.TIC or LLC?Ownership of property by 2 or more parties who are not married – friends, relatives (it makes no difference) can be setup as a limited liability corporation (LLC) or as a tenancy in common (TIC). And while setting up an LLC will entail hundred dollars in additional fees and a tad more paperwork. A limited liability corporation can make it easier to give away or sell an interest in the vacation home and you are treated like an individual for tax purposes, but with the extra protection of a corporate liability shield. An operating agreement will be drafted to establish the obligations and rights of the members in the LLC.

Why this is important when learning how to purchase a vacation home: Under a tenancy in common, somebody who’s injured while in your shared vacation home can sue you and the other co-owners for all you are worth. Additionally, due to the fact that you own a house with somebody else, you’ve less control over who can be allowed to enter the house. So if your nephew wants to celebrate his high school graduation with a blowout party on your vacation home, and somebody steps on a broken glass, it can come back to bite you. This is much less of a risk if you choose an LLC.Who is responsible for what?Another reason why you should set up a limited liability corporation instead of a tenancy in common: Limited liability corporations are normally required by law to have an operating agreement. You should have an attorney draft an agreement which clearly explains everybody’s ownership interest.That ratio, be it 80:20 or 50:50, will determine how costs like real estate taxes and insurance are divided. The agreement should also clearly explain who the manager of the vacation home is, capital improvements and how the maintenance of the home is going to be paid for and performed. The agreement gives the owners a guideline so that everyone knows before they own the place, what the parameters are.You can think of it as real-estate prenuptial agreement, it’s there to ensure that things run smoothly and head off resentment at the pass. Otherwise any under discussed issues- like who is supposed to close up for the season or even clean out the gutters – can quickly and easily turn emotional.Who gets which holidays and weekends?People purchasing a house together should ask themselves if the other owners plan on being at the house at the same time, or alternate in using it, since vacation homes normally have a prime-time of just a few months.Normally, everyone wants to go to the vacation home at the same time of the year, during school breaks for example. If the owners do not talk about this in advance it can lead to everybody showing up at the home on the same day- which isn’t exactly the tranquil vacation home you have always dreamed about.If you decide to split, you should work out an annual schedule in advance and also consider rotating who gets the major holiday weekends. You should also agree that swaps and changes can be made but only with the permission of all the parties involved.

To rent or not to rent? / How to purchase a vacation homeFrom time to time your vacation home is going to be unoccupied no matter how many co-owners you have. If you are a neat freak and do not like strangers sleeping in your bed, you’ll not want to rent your vacation home. However, your brother might want to make some cash by renting out your shared vacation home.You should hammer out whether you are going to rent out the vacation home so that you can generate income when you are not there. If all the parties agree to rent the vacation home just ensure where you are purchasing will allow that. Some communities do not allow short-term rentals.What happens if somebody wants out? / How to purchase a vacation homeYou should have at least one discussion about how long everybody wants to be on-board and what happens if one of the co-owners wants to sell. Giving the other owners right of first refusal if you want to sell your share is a way to reduce conflict. You should think about if you can afford to buy out a co-owner or if you’ll be able to cover the extra maintenance costs and mortgage in the event somebody wants out.

Should You Purchase A Vacation Home?

Summer has arrived, and for many families, that means getting away for a few weeks. While enjoying beautiful surroundings, warm sun or cultural enrichment, it’s easy to imagine how nice it would be to own a home that would let you do so whenever you wanted.But don’t let your imagination run away with you. Before you snap up a beach house or a mountain cabin, give the same thought to the purchase as you would to buying your primary home.The first question is whether you can afford a vacation home. Have you covered educational expenses for your children? Is your retirement secure? Is your emergency fund solid? Don’t rob yourself of essentials to cover a second home, no matter how great its potential as an asset. Even if you buy the property outright, you may not be able to access the equity for some time.A second home entails more expense than you might imagine. Beyond the purchase price, you will need to consider maintenance, security or a caretaker, utilities, property taxes, furnishings, travel costs and other items. You may also need to pay association or assessment fees. And if you intend to rent your property, you will most likely need to pay for advertising, and possibly for a property manager.Further, insurance can be a major expense. Property insurance for a second home often costs more than for a primary residence, and may be more difficult to obtain. The more the house will be vacant, the higher you can generally expect premiums to be. Insurers may also want you to pay more if you plan to rent the property. In areas where floods or hurricanes are possible, flood insurance generally must be added separately.When considering how you will finance the home, remember that second mortgages are usually more expensive than primary mortgages, as banks tend to believe that they are assuming more risk. Lenders may look at an applicant’s income, rather than general assets, which can make approval harder for retirees or those approaching retirement. Some buyers consider taking home equity loans on their primary residences to fund second homes, but this puts your primary home at risk.When deciding whether a vacation home is a practical purchase, estimate all these expenses to get an idea of the carrying costs for the property. If you plan to maintain the property mainly for your personal use, divide the costs by the number of days you plan to visit, so you can see whether renting a home or staying in a hotel might be sounder financially.Some people do consider a vacation home a moneymaking vehicle, or choose to use it for both personal pleasure and to generate income. However, counting on rental income to net a profit after expenses may not always be realistic. In a high-demand locale, such as a ski resort or a desirable beach, your chances are slightly better, especially if your property is within a three-hour drive or so of a major metropolitan center. But the fact remains that, while 25 percent of vacation homeowners say they intend to rent their second homes, only 15 percent do so. Those who do so profitably form an even smaller group.Perhaps the most important financial consideration is the tax implications of a second home. The primary factor affecting your personal tax situation for a vacation home is the property’s anticipated use. Will your second home be used only by you, your friends and your family? Is it practical to rent it to others seeking a vacation site? Specific tax rules for renting out your vacation home may help guide this decision.

You must first determine whether your vacation home is considered a residence or a rental property. The Internal Revenue Service considers your second home a residence if you personally use it for either 14 days a year or more than 10 percent of the number of days the home is rented out, whichever is more. Your use, a relative’s use or use by an unrelated party renting at less than fair price all count as “personal use” in determining the nature of the property.If your vacation home is considered a residence, certain deductible rental expenses may be limited. Renting a property that the IRS considers a residence does not qualify as a “passive activity” for the purpose of income taxes. This matters because a loss incurred from one passive activity can be used to offset the income gained by another. Since renting a second residence is not a passive activity, you cannot use any rental expenses in excess of your rental income to offset income from other sources.If the IRS considers your vacation home a residence and you rent the home out at least 15 days in a given year, you must characterize the division between rental use and private use. You must report all rental income in your gross income in addition to accurately dividing your expenses between personal use and rental use. Certain expenses, such as mortgage interest and property taxes, are usually fully deductible no matter how they are characterized, but are reported in different ways – to offset rental income if they are rental expenses or as itemized deductions if they are personal.Other expenses, including maintenance fees, insurance, depreciation and other costs involved with renting out your vacation home are only used to offset rental income when they can be classified as rental expenses. (A complete list of deductible expenses can be found in IRS Publication 527, “Residential Rental Property.”) The allocation to rental use determines the amount of your expenses used to offset rental income. If you rent the home for half of the year, then half of your expenses may be deducted against your rental income. Given the complications of this division, it is probably wise to involve a tax professional if you intend to use your property for both personal and substantial rental activity.If you do not want the burdens of allocating expenses and continually seeking renters, consider taking advantage of the preferential tax treatment the IRS offers for short-term rentals. The IRS permits you to rent your vacation home for fewer than 15 days annually without reporting any rental income in your total income, thus tax-free. Understandably, you may not deduct any expenses related to renting the home, as there is no reported rental income to offset. In this scenario, you would itemize all of your mortgage interest and property tax deductions on Schedule A.If your second home will be primarily for personal use, be aware of residency rules in the states where both of your homes are located if they are not the same. Reestablishing your residency can be useful, but is sometimes challenging. New York, for example, is notorious for finding ways to keep its former residents on the tax rolls. A former New Yorker may want to take advantage of Florida’s preferable tax climate, but it isn’t simply a matter of deciding it’s a good idea.While a timeshare may seem like a better idea on paper than buying a vacation home, the reality makes it unappealing for most people. In a timeshare, you pay a lump sum up front and maintenance fees thereafter. Atraditional timeshare then guarantees you the use of a specific unit at the same time every year (typically for a week, though it varies). Some newer timeshares operate on a points system, which gives users more flexibility in when and where they vacation, but also leads to competition for the best units at the most desirable times.Though a timeshare is cheaper at the outset than buying a vacation home, it does not offer the same equity or appreciation potential. In effect, you are simply paying for years of vacations in advance, not investing. Additionally, maintenance fees can increase, and most timeshares don’t have a built-in expiration date. Because timeshare property is notoriously hard to sell, this can leave you (and potentially your heirs) indefinitely paying fees on a property you no longer wish to use. You would likely do better to earmark a portion of your portfolio for an annual vacation rather than to purchase a timeshare. This would allow your assets to appreciate, and would avoid the risk of locking yourself into an agreement with no simple exit.If you decide to purchase a vacation home, several considerations remain. Location is crucial. Choose a region where you will want to be often – once a year or more – and possibly to the exclusion of other travel, depending on your time and resources. Rural areas can sometimes increase expenses; for example, insurance may be more costly if you are far from the nearest fire station. In addition, many desirable vacation properties are at increased risk for floods or earthquakes, further driving potential insurance costs up. If your desired property is abroad, review that country’s ownership laws and its history of honoring ownership claims from noncitizens.Finally, think ahead to the possibility of selling your vacation home one day. As soon as your use of the property declines, it is probably better to sell it to eliminate the carrying costs and free the capital for other purposes. You may use the house less than you expected, or you may have used it a great deal when your children were younger but less now that they have become adults. Regardless, getting the process under way as soon as you know you want to sell is important. The housing market is still relatively weak, so it may take longer to sell the property than you expect.If you rent your vacation home enough for it to be characterized as a rental property, you will want to recover the cost of the home through depreciation. Recovery of the cost for residential rental property under the General Depreciation System (GDS) spans 27.5 years. This capitalized expense can be used to offset rental income, thus lowering your tax bill. Deducting depreciation may cause a net loss on your rental property; however, since your second home qualifies as rental property and not as a residence, you can reduce other income from passive activities with the loss. Remember, if you visit the home on vacation, you may only deduct depreciation allocated to rental days.

When the time comes to sell your vacation home, note that the IRS will treat the sale differently from that of your primary home. Your vacation home does not benefit from the $250,000 capital gains exclusion ($500,000 if married filing jointly) that your primary residence does. If you have owned the property at least 12 months, any profit from the sale will be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate.In addition, if you claimed depreciation on the home due to rental use, you will need to refigure your cost basis to determine the gain. Even if you did not claim the depreciation deduction, you must still reduce the cost basis of the home by the amount of depreciation you could have taken. The portion of gain on the sale due to depreciation lowering your basis is considered depreciation recapture and will be taxed at 25 percent.A lose-lose scenario arises when selling a vacation home; you do not receive any of the capital gains exclusion mentioned above, nor do you receive any tax benefit if you realize a loss on the sale. For this reason, consider converting your vacation home to a primary residence before selling. If you make your second home your primary residence for two of the five years prior to selling, you will qualify for the maximum capital gains exclusion.If you want to keep the vacation home in the family rather than selling, it can cause some estate-planning complications. No matter how well your children get along, co-owning a property can lead to disagreements and hurt feelings, as can giving one child the home and another child an asset with less sentimental value. Even if your children share without issue, they may leave it to their children, resulting in a property split between eight or 12 cousins who may or may not know or like one another very well. Those who wish to keep the property may not be able to buy out those who wish to sell. All in all, it can create drama you may not foresee.In the case where selling the home is too painful or impractical during your lifetime, you can direct your estate to sell it and divide the proceeds among your heirs. Alternately, you can set up a trust for the property’s operating expenses, then grant your heirs use of it under certain circumstances. Whatever you do, make your desires explicit, both in your will and by discussing them with your children or heirs. Ideally, involve a financial planner or an estate-planning attorney. Put everything in writing.A vacation home can be a wonderful luxury, providing a place to get away from your day-to-day life and to build treasured memories with friends and family. As long as you think of it as a purchase rather than as an investment, you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you. Then, if you do buy a vacation home, you can approach it with realistic expectations and a good chance of enjoying it for years to come.