Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What it’s like to be in the vacation rental business: PART II

Here's a first hand account from one of my clients who bought a modest house in South Dennis a couple of years ago. The first year they had a year round tenant which proved to be a disaster. Then they started doing weekly vacation rentals. Here's their report today when I asked for the details of how the summer has been:

We've been doing pretty well with our vacation rentals this year - the house was booked solid all summer starting June 23rd week and ending Sept. 4th (two families rented for Labor Day weekend). We'd like to rent it out for some weeks in Sept or Oct but it seems Cape vacationers aren't interested in those months -- and they're missing out on a great time to be at the Cape.

We really like the We Need A Vacation site - we've received most of our renters through them. We're also on the VRBO site, but think ended up with only one rental from VRBO.

I hate to say this for fear of jinxing things, but I'm so impressed with how nice people are who've rented the house - such a contrast to the people who rented for a year. Most of the summer renters are families, which is what you said we'd get - mom, dad, kids; some are grandparents renting for a family vacation with daughter, son-in-law, grandkids. We had a group of 3 ladies (older-ish) who come to the Cape every year for girls week out and shopping. We've had returns from last year and one returning couple with two kids stayed two weeks.

We were at the house for a few days this past June making sure everything was in place. It was unbelievably cold (for June anyway). We brought up a gas grill that Tom put together because one of our vacationers asked whether we had a gas grill -- when they found out we didn't they said it was okay because they had a portable gas grill they usually brought with them. We decided we'd better have a gas grill there rather than take a chance on some small portable gas grill that might blow up !

We've had only a few mishaps with the place -- one was during the second week of rentals when the new last year glass-topped patio table skittered along with the wind and broke. I called Mill Stores in Harwich on somebody's recommendation. Their staff were very nice, efficient, got the table on the patio Saturday in time for the next people who were coming in. They were great.

Rental company we had last year wasn't very helpful. They said they had one of our weeks rented and it ended up the person had rented another place. They hadn't kept on top of it. It really killed me because I had already received calls from 2 or 3 renters who asked for that particular week. I called the agency at one point and asked if they were sure about that week being rented because one man who called seemed to be desperate. They were so sure! and they were wrong. They finally found someone for about 3 days of that week; of course less rent. It was the way they blew it off that ticked us off.

So now I'm making my own mistakes. I can get ticked off at myself if I screw up. And I have done that.

I've had several requests for weeks that were already rented and people have asked if I knew of another house near ours for their friends to stay in. I really don't know of any other places yet. If you know of anyone with a place, let me know, I can refer them. I think you have a smaller place other than "The Manse" you rent out, right?

It's kinda fun doing this for now - we'll see how long it lasts.


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