How to Make Your Home Guest Ready

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Renting out a vacation home is an exciting step: you’ll be able to reap benefits from your investment while providing visitors a luxurious, unique stay.

Furthermore, the idea of vacationing in a home – rather than a hotel – is appealing to a growing number of Americans. According to a survey by TripAdvisor, 59 percent of respondents planned to stay in a vacation rental during 2015. Travelers often find vacation homes have better amenities than hotels do and offer more of an at-home experience, noted the survey.

Preparing your place is a key step to ensure guests have a comfortable stay and, better yet, want to return for another visit.  

Follow these strategies to make your vacation rental an ideal spot for travelers to hang their coats and fully enjoy their visit.

1. Remove extra items.

Your family may not mind a room with a bit of clutter, but guests will be likely on the lookout for space. Spend a day or two removing items like family albums, extra winter gear, or storage boxes that won’t be needed by visitors. Keep plenty of room in closets and drawers for renters to store their belongings.

Also store or relocate valuables, such as a vase or painting that has been passed down through several generations in your family. “Don’t leave anything out that you wouldn’t want taken or broken,” advises Alyssa O’Mara, who rents out a home on Cape Cod.

2. Check the household supplies.

While renters may dine out frequently, they’ll also appreciate a kitchen that’s ready to use if they opt to stay in. Make sure the basics are available for them, including a microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, pots and pans, mixing bowls, serving spoons, a can opener, a wine bottle opener, knives for chopping, a cutting board, a full set of measuring cups and spoons, strainer, and baking dishes.

For plates and dishes, a solid approach is to provide at least two of every item for each guest. If your home sleeps four, you’ll want a minimum of eight plates, bowls, coffee mugs, and glasses available. Include kid-friendly silverware, plastic cups and plates as well if families will be staying at the place.

The same is true for towels: if your vacation rental sleeps six individuals, make sure at least 12 fresh, new towels are ready for use.

Keep two sets of linens for each bed. “Use antimicrobial covers for pillows and mattresses,” suggests O’Mara. Plan on replacing the covers every year.

Also, provide extra blankets and pillows in an easy-to-spot place, such as a bedroom closet. Check that basic electronics are in working order, such as a television, stereo and dvd player.

If your home is missing some of these furnishings, or larger pieces such as a couch or kitchen table, you’ll want to purchase them prior to renting out the property.

3. Take an inventory.

Once you have the place’s furnishings in order, take a home inventory, suggests John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada.com. In the inventory, include pictures of the rental fixed assets like garage doors, appliances and floors, as well as furniture, electronics, and housewares.

By documenting items and listing the condition of them, you’ll have a baseline to work with if anything is damaged or destroyed.

4. Check on legal matters.

Depending on the area and your situation, you might need a license or have to comply with certain local requirements to rent out your vacation home.

Also, before renting out your second home on a regular basis, talk to an insurance professional. You’ll likely need a more specialized insurance policy than a standard homeowners policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute. This could consist of separate business coverage or a landlord policy.

5. Keep everything in working order.

“Vacation homes are often times near beaches or in the mountains, and thus the weather and climate conditions are rough on the home,” notes Bodrozic. “Keep a maintenance schedule over what needs to get done to properly maintain the vacation home.”   

If you don’t have a service in place already, ask an individual or company to come regularly and provide the maintenance needed for your pool, lawn or other assets.  

6. Leave instructions.

“Vacation homes are often times near beaches or in the mountains, and thus the weather and climate conditions are rough on the home,” notes Bodrozic. “Keep a maintenance schedule over what needs to get done to properly maintain the vacation home.”   

If you don’t have a service in place already, ask an individual or company to come regularly and provide the maintenance needed for your pool, lawn or other assets.

7. Add a bit of charm.

A couple of books about the area, local paintings, or other artwork featuring the region can help visitors truly appreciate their surroundings. 

“Include some fun things, like beach chairs and toys,” adds O’Mara. “These extras, although not very expensive, can go a long way in renter satisfaction. It’s much better to have people come back than to have to find new renters.”

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