The summer season can be a stressful time for owners of rental properties at the shore, a time when the added income of summer rentals is matched by the stress of maintenance, problems at the property, and generally keeping what amounts to a side business up and running.
Once the summer is behind you, it becomes time to take stock and consider what changes you can make to ensure next season is better than the last.
Presumably you are working with a professional to help manage your listings – it goes without saying that we recommend this approach – but even if you’re handling matters on your own, the following advice will be helpful.
First, you want to treat your summer rentals like a business. Whether you want to go as far as forming an LLC and handling rental business through that is a personal choice, but at the very least opening a separate checking account strictly for your rental is a good idea.
Medium reports, “Separating your business into its own checking account helps you to properly record and report your income and expenses. It can also help you to maximize your tax advantages. You may also want to use a different bank or credit union than you use for your personal purchases.”
Further, doing this can help you avoid comingling funds, giving you a better idea of what kind of money you have on hand for maintenance, repairs, and other expenses related to your rental.
Secondly, having a formal rental agreement is essential for both your peace of mind and your renters’. This agreement should outline what you provide and what comes with the rental, as well as your expectations of your guests: rules, behavior, things they are and are not allowed to do, and so on. Also include specific details about financial responsibility for damage, fees for rule-breaking, and so on.
This is an area where trying to be nice can backfire on you. Be thorough, be detailed, and most of all, ensure you are protecting yourself and your property.
Of course, you won’t have any renters at all if you don’t have a good listing. Most listing advice we can offer is common sense, frankly – have accurate and up to date listings, provide all the necessary details, etc. – but there are a few areas where most people can do better.
One area is in selling the neighborhood. Remember that people aren’t just renting your house, they are renting easy access to the sights, sounds and activities of the Jersey Shore.
Consider these questions Sally Walker at Styleblueprint suggests potential renters ask themselves, and understand that people want to know this information: “What’s your travel style? Taxi or public transportation? Quiet neighborhood or entertainment district? Make sure the neighborhood you’re considering has what’s important to you, whether it’s proximity to nightlife, a grocery store or boutique shopping.”
Another big item to get the most from your listings – and this is where it helps to work with a professional – is to have professional photos taken. Even if you’re handling everything yourself, go ahead and spend the money to have professional photos taken. It can make a world of difference both in the response you get and in the rental fees you can command.
Finally, communicate, communicate, communicate. Good communication before, during and after the rental not only ensures you are on top of things and can stop problems before they materialize, you can also ensure people have a good experience so they return next season.
If you have questions about how to be successful with your summer rental, call us at (732) 793-3333. We’ll be happy to help.