Step-by-Step Guide to Converting a Long-Term Rental Into a Vacation Rental
There are plenty of pros and cons to short-term rentals vs. long-term rentals — making different types of properties better for different types of property owners.
If you have a long-term rental, it’s likely that at the time you started renting it, you valued reliable income, hands-off management, and less turnover. However, as time has passed, the alluring prospect of the high earning potential and less “wear and tear” that comes with vacation rental ownership may have caught (and held) your attention.
If you currently have a long-term rental property that you’d like to convert into a vacation rental — it’s not too late to get started. Simply follow the steps listed below, and you’ll be on your way to creating a “home away from home” in no time!
1. Check Local Regulations
There are much stricter rules, codes, and regulations for operating vacation rentals in some states, cities, and counties than long-term rentals. Some cities require a vacation rental to be a primary residence or require the owner to obtain a business license. In contrast, others limit the amount of time a vacation rental can be occupied (for example, one month at a time).
It’s crucial to ensure the rules and regulations for vacation rentals won’t interfere with your earning potential and profitability. Airbnb lists the local codes for vacation rentals in several popular cities across the country on its website — so this is a great place to start!
2. Check Your Insurance
While there is risk involved in renting out a long-term rental to one tenant for six months or a year, there is much more risk involved when renting out your property to a new person every week (or night!).
It’s possible the insurance for your long-term rental already provides all the coverage you need for a vacation rental. However, it’s worth calling your insurance agent before converting your long-term rental into a vacation rental just in case you need to make any changes to your policy.
3. Consider the Risks
As we mentioned above, there is more “risk” involved with owning vacation rentals than long-term rentals. If you’re not a risk-tolerant person — vacation rental ownership might not be for you.
There are damage risks and financial risks involved with vacation rentals. First, with more guests cycling in and out of your house, there is a higher risk of damage to furniture and the property (although there are ways to combat this, like setting age minimums and group limits). Second, long-term rentals provide guaranteed income, as long as you have a tenant, whereas short-term rentals might not get enough bookings or struggle through slower “off” seasons.
However, with significant risk comes great reward. Vacation rentals (with proper rules set in place) generally experience less wear and tear than long-term rentals and offer the potential to double, triple, or even quadruple your current returns.
4. Evaluate Your Time
Before jumping into converting your long-term rental into a vacation rental, it’s crucial to assess your ability to set up and manage it. Generally speaking, vacation rentals require more “hands-on” management than long-term rentals.
If you’re pressed for time and still want to move into the vacation rental business, there are plenty of companies you can hire to help you. For example, a property management company can handle marketing, guest management, cleaning, and maintenance, and a professional decorating company can help furnish your vacation rental to make it appealing and inviting for guests.
5. Furnish with Functional Furniture
Now comes the fun part — preparing your vacation rental for guests! After the current tenants have moved out of the home, hire a company to deep-clean the entire space, and then call a professional decorating company, like THE STAGING COMPANY, to start picking out the theme and style.
We can work with you to select functional furniture and attractive decor to make your entire vacation rental appealing, cozy, and welcoming for guests. All you have to do is pay a design fee and cover the cost of the furniture — and our experienced team will take care of the rest!
6. Get Listing Photos
After your vacation rental is furnished, hire a professional photographer to come out and take crisp, clear, and flattering photos of each room. These pictures can be used in the listing description to showcase your property’s best features and to provide an accurate depiction of the space for guests.
Writing a compelling listing description is just as important as including high-quality photos. You can read our best practices for writing a listing description as a helpful starting point.
7. Encourage Great Reviews
Congratulations — at this point, your vacation rental should be listed on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other online rental platforms, which means you can begin welcoming guests! However, during this time, it’s critical to collect as many positive reviews and ratings as possible to help potential guests feel more confident booking your property.
If you’re struggling with getting reviews, perhaps invite a few family members and friends to stay in your rental for a discounted price in exchange for an honest (and hopefully, positive) review. You can also collect the email addresses of guests and send them an email requesting a review after their stay.
8. Become a Thoughtful Host
Being a vacation rental host is much different than being a landlord. It requires a different approach to guest management and a more “hands-on” approach to the guest experience.
Tenants in a long-term rental crave privacy and want the landlord to be as “hands-off” as possible, except for when something needs to be fixed — the space is their home, after all. However, guests in a vacation rental value attention to detail and responsiveness. Provide thoughtful touches, like a bottle of wine for each guest, or offer local recommendations for things to do in the area on vacation.
9. Call Our Team at THE STAGING COMPANY
Converting a long-term rental into a vacation rental can be a lot of work — but it’s not a job you have to do alone. THE STAGING COMPANY offers professional decorating services for vacation rental owners in San Antonio, Austin, Tampa, and other cities in Texas and Florida. Not only will working with us save you time — it will also ensure your rental is attractive and appealing to potential guests!