Tag: Vacation Rentals
Watch Out For “Location, Location, Location” Tunnel Vision
When designing a vacation rental strategy, success is found with five (or more) main amenity points. It is common to hear, “location, location, location,” in the business, but the perception of view and location often improperly shadows the importance of offering other supporting & unique amenities.
Focus On 5 (or more) Main Points of Amenities & Features
We have found offering five (or more) main and unique amenities will provide most vacation home owners with a healthy calendar and a robust rental rate… no matter the location and size of the property. Real estate pricing often leads buyers, and even some inexperienced agents, to believe a large oceanfront home is the best bet for producing rental income. This is often incorrect.
One of my most prized vacation rental accounts was a small, but beautiful, 2 bedroom beach house. The property was in demand nearly year round as it had little competition due to the unique size. This allowed for a solid 10 month rental season and for a very attractive rental rate for the home owner… in some cases much higher production than a 3 or 4 bedroom property. The home featured special amenities such as a Netflix movie device, a decked out & comfortable porch, wireless internet, flat screen TVs, pet friendly access, and totally remodeled baths & kitchen. A free book exchange added a great touch and a cabinet of board, dice, and card games provided the extra details guests seek while searching for the next vacation.
Not Just Rental Price
This is what is often misunderstood by managers and even some home owners; guests desire more than a low price and a place near the beach. Guests wish for relaxation, ample options, and value added features… even if they will not use them. Marketing these features properly captures a guest during the search and validates value when considering an above average price.
Guiding our clients with affordable and powerful marketing ideas which transform a property into a vacation experience is another service we offer at dunes properties. We invite you to explore more about our program!
by Wes Walker
Vice President of Rentals
Dunes Properties of Charleston
Related Reading for Vacation Rental Home Owners…
- View all tips for vacation rental owners
The Most Costly Vacation Rental Furnishings
In the past, homeowners would fill their rental homes with low price furnishings. It was a great way to save a few bucks, right? Grab a few tables, dressers, bed sets, and wall pieces from a thrift store and voila… a full furnished vacation rental!
This is no longer a good idea. In fact, the thrift store approach is a very, very poor one and extremely costly for vacation home owners.
Today’s guests have an endless list of vacation options thanks to the web and growing vacation rental marketplace. While online, guests quickly compare properties’s furnishing. Poorly furnished properties are skipped… and quickly skipped.
Owners still using the “thrift store” approach often forget why people are thinking of vacationing. Guest want to rest and relax. Yes, the beach and water are a big part of the interest, but rest & relaxation are the keys to great vacations. Without a good presentation of a comfortably furnished property, “thrift store” properties are doomed to a wildly poor rental schedule.
What To Avoid – The Big Three
- Light Tan Woods – looks like it was just in a dorm room
- Everything Wicker – color doesn’t matter but white is the worst
- Gold & Brass – this is more about hardware but gold/brass takes 20 years off your property
How costly is the “thrift store approach” in vacation rentals?
A strong example can be made for two side-by-side condominiums we managed years ago. The first condo was comfortable, colorful, and updated. The second was decorated by an owner with a thrift store preference. The first condo owner generated $30,000 more in a year than the second condo owner. The investment of a few thousand in good furniture generated 10x the return. Other hidden loss also includes the maintenance to repair and patch old furniture.
It is important to mention that furniture price is not the key. Affordable, comfortable, and replaceable is the best approach. Pricey and custom furniture is the same mistake as buying thrift.
by Wes Walker
Vice President of Vacation Rentals
Dunes Properties of Charleston
Related Reading for Vacation Rental Home Owners…
- View all tips for vacation rental owners
As an Agent and property owner on Isle of Palms since 1991, clients who are looking to move to the area ask me about the mix of vacation rentals to permanent property owners.
Below is a perfect recap from The Island Eye News of the Isle of Palms Council meeting as they tackle the growing concern of quality of life on IOP. A number of years ago, an island group of year-round residents called Save IOP was concerned with the ever increasing amount of rentals and the impact on the neighborhoods. We all know that a balance between the two are ideal, and the island residents, Mayor and Town Council are addressing this issue.
“The Isle of Palms short term rentals meeting on September 16 was a far cry from the meetings of two and three years ago, when every mention of the words “short term rentals” caused at least a sharp word or two to fly and at worst, sparked a full on red-faced debate. Today, however, the formerly contentious topic was approached with cool aplomb by both the City Council and the Planning Commission, all of whom walked through the issues step by step under the statistics-assisted guidance of Mayor Dick Cronin.
To keep things simple, Mayor Cronin divided the topic into two sections: zoning issues and livability issues. Under zoning, the Mayor reported that the average size of new homes built on the Isle of Palms is between 3800 and 4051 square feet, and of the 17 new homes built last year, not one of them was built as a rental. This is surprising compared to previous years, where the building of rental homes peaked at 50% of new home construction in 2003 and approached that number again in 2006 with 43% of new homes being built as rentals.”
Read the rest of the full article HERE.
- Jack Hurley
Check out this recent ABC News video about the official end of the summer season – Labor Day at Folly Beach. Susan St. Hilaire, Dunes Properties’ very own Director of Vacation Rentals is quoted. For Dunes, it has been a great summer and we have welcomed all kinds of visitors to our beach front condominiums and variety of beautiful island homes. We hope your visits were happy ones and that you left with a great taste of “The Edge of America”! Come on back ya’ll, ya hear?
Click here for the video.
Folly Beach, SC – just a short drive from Downtown Charleston
We at Dunes Properties and The Real Estate Studio are honored to become a part of
Lowcountry Local First, a community alliance that educates the public on the importance of supporting the local economy, and encourages businesses and consumers to be environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. Lowcountry Local First created the 10% Shift campaign which asks local residents and businesses to shift just 10% of their existing purchases from non-local businesses to Local Independents (locally owned and independent businesses). By doing so we would see thousands of new jobs created and millions of dollars of new economic activity in the Lowcountry. We as a company, and as individuals, are committed to exploring ways we can 10% Shift, whether it be by locally sourcing a service we previously outsourced, or by going to one of our great local coffee shops rather than a national chain.
Dunes Properties is one of only two real estate companies in the Lowcountry that is part of Lowcountry Local First, joining 250 other locally-owned companies of all kinds.
Lowcountry Local First has minimum criteria that must be met to join:
- Business is privately held.
- Business owners who have a controlling interest of more than 50% live in the Lowcountry.
- Business make independent decisions regarding the name and look of your business, as well as all business purchasing, practices and distribution.
- Business pays all their own marketing, rent, and other business expenses.
We are proud to be able to meet this criteria and more, as since the company’s inception more than 20 years ago, we have always supported our local economy in ways that go beyond helping people to buy and sell homes in the Charleston Area:
1. More than 70% of our business purchases and services are sourced locally for the Real Estate Division and for our Vacation Rental side, over 90% – from marketing and printing to linen services, insurance, architecture and beyond, we believe in working with the people you know, and your neighbors around you. Just some of our local vendors include: JR Rowell Printing and Knight Press, Precision Mail, E-Group, Wulburn Koval, Neil Stevenson Architects, South Atlantic Contractors, Lowcountry Linen and Lighthouse Cleaning Services, Wynn & Associates and Crosby and Co.
2. All of our banking is done with local and regional institutions – We like the local touch and feel, and we like that over the years we’ve formed not only business relationships with our local banks, but also friendships. Some of the great ones we work with include: Bank of South Carolina and Atlantic Bank and Trust.
Setting up for Guerrilla Cuisine
3. Support local artists – in our Real Estate Studio space downtown, we offer gallery space to local and regional artists free of charge in an effort to help them promote their art. In addition, we have held numerous art openings here over the past two years including Rhett Thurman, Carol McGill, Kevin Harrison, and Brownie Harris (in conjunction with Guerrilla Cuisine), and Billy Cone.
4. Support local non-profit organizations – we donate our Real Estate Studio space to local non-profits so they can host events and raise money to benefit their organizations. We’ve helped Wings for Kids, The Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Bloom’ in Art among others. We also donate 3-night weekends in a Folly Beach vacation rental home to auctions that benefit local organizations:
- Addlestone Hebrew Academy
- American Cancer Society
- BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival
- Charleston Symphony Orchestra
- MUSC Storm Eye Institute
- Low Country Senior Center Festival of Wreaths
5. Concierge Service – through our concierge service, we help locals and visitors alike enjoy their time in Charleston by making dinner reservations at local restaurants, tee times at local golf courses, even setting up a kayak or jetski rental.
6. Partnership with Charming Inns of Charleston – through our partnership with Charming Inns, we support each other with business referrals, share our downtown map and allow their guests to utilize our wireless network and computers.
7. Adopt-a-Highway – Dunes Properties has adopted part of Palm Blvd for more than 10 years. Every quarter, our agents and employees don their beat up old clothes to clean it up and make this beautiful place we live in, even better.
8. Doin’ the Dunes on Isle of Palms – for several years our agents
and employees have helped to preserve the IOP beaches by putting up sand fencing and planting sea oats.
9. Volunteer at the Annual Boone Hall Plantation Oyster Roast – each year in January a team of agents and employees rolls up their sleeves to serve hot steaming oysters to this events 1000s of attendees.
10. Adopt-a-Family – Each year we adopt a local family in need for the holidays and collect funds and shop for and wrap presents for them through Families Helping Families
11. Support the Folly Turtle Protection Program – In addition to providing a link to the program’s website from ours, for each of our Vacation Rental guests, we provide information about our Folly turtles and the local efforts to protect them.
These are just some of the ways we work with the local community as a company, and of course our agents and employees get involved in any way they can. We are proud of all the amazing things they have done over the years!
We at Dunes Properties consider ourselves a family, and an integral part of this Lowcountry community. For 20 years, we have pursued the ideal that to have a strong economy that creates wealth, stability and buying power for our Charleston citizens, we must keep it local in any way we can. We must support each other both as individuals and businesses, because in doing so, as we like to say, ‘the rising tide lifts all boats.” So thanks Lowcountry Local First, for having the vision to create this movement and the resources to pull us all together in one incredible, entrepreneurial, Charleston-lovin’ powerhouse of people.
It is easy to be fearful right now, news is not good and the future is uncertain. One thing I can tell you is that prices are low right now. If there were ever questions about the rate of return on beach property, buying low is always a good start. Historically, vacation property does well, as the demand never really disappears altogether. People will always be interested in purchasing property in vacation destinations. If you have a good time horizon where you will also enjoy the property, it is a fairly safe investment.
Now is a good time to take a look at how the rental income on the property performs and include that in your decision to purchase. This may contribute to making the mortgage payments easier to handle, and while prices were high this was usually a small help, but the difference has gotten smaller and we may be approaching a favorable cash-flow situation. It reminds me of a great quote that I heard from Warren Buffet, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”.