Tips For Buying a Vacation Rental Home in a Ski Market

With over 53 million travelers hitting the slopes this past ski season, owning a vacation rental home in a popular ski market can prove very lucrative.

When booking vacations, travelers are increasingly turning to vacation rentals instead of hotels for comfort, space, and unique experiences.

There’s still plenty of time before ski season kicks off in October but if you’re looking to purchase a home in places like Park City, Summit County, or Lake Tahoe, now’s a great time to start doing your research.

Keep these 5 things in mind to make purchasing a ski home easy:


Pick the Right Realtor

This may sound self-explanatory but it’s harder than you might think!

“Look for someone with experience, is responsive, and has history in the area you’re looking to buy in,” says Brent Johnson, who specializes in buying and selling real estate in South Lake Tahoe.

Jennifer Fortune, a realtor in Lake Tahoe, says reading online reviews is a great starting point to find the right realtor.

“People forget it’s a service industry – find someone who will work hard for you and go that extra mile,” Jennifer says.


Think About What You Want From the Home

There are a few ways to approach owning a vacation rental home – strictly using it as a rental, primarily using it as a residence while renting on occasion, and somewhere in between. It’s helpful for your realtor to know what you plan to do with the home before you start viewing properties. Michael Healy, a realtor in Summit County, says he always starts by asking his clients why before diving into anything else.

Ken Boenish, broker and owner of The Real Estate Company – Winter Park, agrees.

“We have to find the balance between what’s appealing to the buyer and their family and find the type of property in an area that will be a strong rental,” says Ken.


Always Ask About Rental History and Projections

When purchasing a home to use as vacation rental, you’ll want to have an idea of what the home is capable of in terms of revenue.

“I like to look more at the rental potential of a property instead of just the history. Often, revenue depends on whether or not the home was used a lot by the owner and whether they tried to manage it themselves or they had professional management,” says Ken.

To get a feel for revenue potential, reaching out to a vacation rental property manager in your area is a great first step. Jennifer says she works with the local TurnKey Team in South Lake Tahoe to generate revenue projections for her buyers.


Know What Travelers Want

“The vacation rental business has changed over the last few years in terms of what travelers are looking for,” says Ken.

When deciding on where to stay for a trip, travelers are looking for a home they can’t get elsewhere.

“I think having a home that presents some charm is important. People don’t want to rent a condo that belongs in a city. They want to feel like they’re in the mountains,” says Ken.

Purchasing a home with charm can go a long way with appealing to travelers. Trust your instinct when touring homes – is the property you have in mind somewhere you’d actually want to book for a vacation?

“You want to make sure you’re buying a rental you’d stay in,” says Jennifer.

Pay attention to the details as you tour each property. For example, Ken recommends making sure the seating in the living space matches up with the sleeping capacity. Simple things like this can give travelers that at-home feeling they’re looking for.


Factor in Additional Costs

The cost of a second home isn’t just what the seller is asking for.

“Ask about costs associated with homeownership that people don’t always take into consideration, like snow removal and maintenance,” says Brent.

In ski markets, accounting for the services Brent mentions are important. So are planning for any HOA dues, property management fees, and the unexpected.


Keeping these 5 things in mind will help you get the most out of the buying process and reduce the stress of owning a rental home in the long run.

Want to get the most out of your vacation rental? See how TurnKey can help you earn more revenue and give you greater peace of mind here.

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