Published at Sunday, February 17th, 2019 - 06:00:34 AM. House. By .
How to Turn Your House Into a Vacation Rental : Turning your house into a vacation rental can seem overwhelming at first... but it really doesnt have to be. This is a process that you can really enjoy and have fun with! I have set up houses as vacation rentals dozens and dozens of times, for my clients properties, as well as my own houses. I understand what is involved and required from every aspect, from assuring the property is in compliance with governmental agency rules and regulations, to making sure it has all the essentials that most guests require. In my commitment to assuring that my clients are continually successful with their vacation rental houses, I often find myself in the role of vacation rental counselor, mostly pertaining to governmental agency and code compliance, quality assurance, and ongoing property maintenance required to meet the current industry standard. So, with that in mind, its important to begin with the basics when you decide to offer your house as a vacation accommodation to travelers. In this article I will provide you with the 5 most important steps to follow to assure your vacation rental success. As you read through this, I advise you to consider the fact that your house is in a unique town or city, that this article is a general guide, and that it is critical for you to become aware of your local community sentiment, and rules and regulations about short-term rentals. Always remember, your house is a private property, it is are not a hotel, and preparing your house and managing it as a vacation rental accommodation for tourists must be carefully and thoughtfully done. 1 - LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, AND REGULATIONS The very first thing you need to do is to educate yourself about your local city, county, and state laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations pertaining to offering your house as a vacation rental in your unique community neighborhood. Please dont just assume that because its your property, you can do whatever you want with it. And, please dont put a lot of effort and expense in setting up your house as a rental for tourists until you rule out the possibility that there are laws preventing you from doing so. Many local and state government agencies have clear regulations stating that setting up your house to rent as a vacation rental turns it into a business, and it will probably be subject to some level of city, county, and / or state licensing. Many governing agencies also require that to legally rent your house as a short-term rental, you must collect local and state tax from tourists who rent your property. A quick search in the vacation rental news reveals, that as short-term rentals become more and more popular, many communities have licensing restrictions and very specific rules and regulations regarding renting houses short term to tourists. Call your local town or city governmental offices and get to the appropriate licensing department that can answer your specific questions. Find out what specific licenses and / tax numbers you need to legally rent your house, and get them. I highly recommend that you seek the assistance of an established licensed local rental agency that can properly assist you understanding and complying with licensing and tax requirements required in your community. 2 - YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND YOUR NEIGHBORS Now that youve determined that it is legal for you to rent your house as a vacation rental, and youve obtained the proper licenses and tax numbers, its time to think about the neighborhood where your rental house is located. This might seem silly, and many people gloss over this important step, but believe me you can save massive headaches and fights with neighbors by dealing with this issue pro-actively. Nearly every news article you read on communities that are resisting or trying to restrict vacation rentals point to the same neighbor issues: noisy tourists staging loud parties, tourists taking parking spaces from local residents, and tourists being careless with their garbage. In all the years Ive been in the vacation rental business Ive seen several neighbor-to- neighbor squabbles that have involved code enforcement, the police, and even expensive law suits. Most of these issues could have been avoided with plain common sense and consideration. Find out who your neighbors are, and do your best to communicate with them and determine if they will resist you renting your house to tourists. Once you begin renting your house to vacationers, you need to commit to being selective about who you rent your house to. It is important to talk with them and determine if they will be a good fit for your neighborhood. Ask them directly what they plan to do while they are renting your house for their vacation. For example, if you discover a potential guest is planning to rent your house to accommodate a wedding party or a birthday party, think about the impact on your neighbors and if they will be okay with this. Some properties I manage are in neighborhoods that will only tolerate very quiet couples, others are set up to accept larger groups and the neighbors are clear on this and understand the rules. Know your neighborhood, and set up your own House Rules that your tourist tenants must agree to comply with. The biggest complaint that most neighbors have who live next to vacation houses is noise. Some neighbors are more noise sensitive than others, and you need to know if your neighbor is going to call the police every time a group of vacationers sit around the swimming pool and listen to music. Give neighbors who live next to your rental your phone number, and ask them to call you directly if there is a noise problem. And when there is a problem, call the guests and ask them to quiet down. Since you are renting your house to tourists, it is your responsibility to make sure the guests you bring into your rental house are respectful of the local neighborhood. 3 - FURNISHING YOUR HOUSE AS A VACATION RENTAL Furnishing your house can be daunting if youve never done it before. Below is a very detailed list of basic home furnishing items you will need to provide. This includes suggestions for bed configurations, kitchen essentials, soft goods, and household items. Your guests will be looking for the basic comforts most of us look for in our daily living. Enjoy setting up your house for tourists - and strive to strike a balance between nice and economy. If you are striving to attract a higher end clientele add some nice touches and things that you would appreciate if you were a guest in your own house. You dont need to purchase all new items, but please doesnt use junk or your house will start to look like an unappealing garage sale. Add some interesting art work, wall mirrors, artificial plants, and some nice nick-nacks - just take care not to overdo it or it can start to look cluttered. Some personal pictures (a shot with your friends or family members) are nice to place on shelves... it reminds guests that they are in some ones house, and not a hotel. Suggested Bed Size Lay Out Your vacation rental property needs to be practical and user friendly as well as beautiful to look at. I have found the following general layout to meet the demands of most guests. As a general rule, avoid putting too many extra beds in a bedroom, you do not want to give the message of the more the merrier. If your property has an office or den, it is a nice feature to add a desk or set up an office. Try to make the nicest bedroom the master bedroom. The nicest bedroom is usually determined by the view and features - such as en-suite bathroom, private deck, French doors that lead to the swimming pool or porch, or it can just be the largest bedroom if the property offers no other unique features. If your property has more than one bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and/or view than you are lucky to have a property that can be marketed with more than one master bedroom or suite... and that is a fantastic feature. That way, couples traveling together dont have to flip for the best bedroom! About bed sizes: The layout below is suggested after nearly 2 decades of being in this business and listening to what guests require. Today, it seems like most people sleep in king size beds at home, and many couples who stay in vacation rentals insist on a king bed. For some couples, not having a king bed option can be a deal breaker since they are convinced they wont be able to sleep in a smaller bed with their partner. So that being said, here are the basic suggested guidelines... • Two Bedroom House Bedroom 1: Master bedroom - Prefer King bed. If room is too small use a Queen. Bedroom 2:- 2nd bedroom - Queen or 2 twins. (I find that 2 twins are a better option as they can be pushed together to make a King.) • Three Bedroom House Bedroom 1: Master bedroom - Prefer King bed. If the room is too small use a Queen. Bedroom 2: 2nd bedroom - Queen or King or 2 twins. Bedroom 3: 3rd bedroom - 2 Twins or Trundle bed • Four Bedroom House Bedroom 1: Master bedroom - Prefer King bed, but if the room is too small use a Queen. Bedroom 2: 2nd bedroom - Queen or King Bedroom 3: 3rd bedroom - Queen or King or 2 twins. Bedroom 4: 4th bedroom - 2 Twins or Trundle bed Guideline for Cookware and Kitchen Items Equip your vacation rental kitchen with basic cookware and kitchen items. Buy a good set of good cookware, as much quality as you can afford. It does not pay in the long run to get the cheapest as it will not last, but not necessary to buy the very best either. Sometimes you can find a nice stainless steel set in a box. Do not get the cheap aluminum stuff. • Stove Top Pans: Provide a basic set of 2, 4, 8, and 10 quarts. • Skillets: 7 and 10 inch • Oven Pans: Glass baking dishes: 9X13 and 8X8, roasting pan with lid (holiday dinners),cookie sheet, muffin tin, 1 pie pan, 2 cake pans, 1 pizza pan. • Mixing Bowls: 2 large: 8 - 10 quarts; 2 medium: 2 - 4 quarts; and 2 small: 1 - 2 quarts. These can be stainless or glass. These can also be used as serving bowls. • Knives: Paring, large vegetable, butcher, bread, and a sharpener. • Cook Prep Items: Colander, spatulas (1 medium size, l large size), mixing spoons (1 large, 1 medium), wire whisk, can opener (a good manual one is best), plastic cutting boards (1 large and 1 small), measuring spoons, rolling pin, ladle, funnel, and tongs. • Small Kitchen Appliances: Toaster, coffee pot (electric drip - Mr. Coffee Style), blender (good quality that will spin frozen drinks) • Other Kitchen Items: 2 to 4 pot holders and trivets, placements for complete table setting, 6 dish towels, teapot (for steeping tea; not essential but nice), bread basket, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. • BBQ Grill: Inexpensive gas grills are best. Plan on replacing them about every couple of years. • Flatware and Serving Ware: Dinner plates, soup / cereal bowls, small plates (Service for 8 - 10 works best for property that sleeps up to 8), glasses (service for 8-10), flatware (service for 10 plus meat fork), 6 to 8 Serving spoons, 2 slotted spoons, coffee mugs or coffee cups and sauces (service for 10), 2 to 3 serving bowls and platters for hors doeuvres, or maybe a turkey or roast. Bright colorful serving bowls are nice and also help to add a pop of color to the kitchen. • Cleaning Supplies (keep in property for guests): Hand dish soap, dishwasher soap, degreaser, window cleaner, cleaning cloths, large 2 to 3 gallon plastic bucket, mop, 2 brooms (1 for inside and 1 or outside),1 dust pan Guideline for Soft Goods Equip your vacation rental house with nice quality bedding, towels, and window coverings. Do not buy the cheapest soft goods. They wont last and you will likely receive complaints. Guests expect good quality towels and linens and will write bad reviews for poor quality items. You can save money by purchasing from discount warehouse and home furnishing stores. • Towels: For a 2 bedroom rental - 12 bath towels, 12 hand towels, and 8 wash clothes; for a 3 bedroom rental - 14 bath towels, 14 hand towels, 14 wash clothes; for a 4 bedroom rental - 16 bath towels, 16 hand towels, 16 wash clothes • Sheets and Pillow cases: 2 sets for each bed. Get at least 400 count sheets • Bedding Protectors: Mattress covers for each mattress zip pillow protectors for each bed pillow (these go on the pillow before the pillow case). • Bed spreads or comforters: We take our cue from high end hotel rooms. At this writing (2011) travelers like duvet covers (over comforters) and / or mattalesse coverlets in the contemporary market. Bed covers MUST be washable. • Decorative and Comfort Items: Throw pillows, 2 or 3 blanket throws, throw rugs, door mats • Beach / Pool Towels - 2 per bedroom • Window coverings - Nice curtains and / or blinds Entertainment and Internet Service: Flat Screen TVs: People expect TVs in the bedrooms as well as the main living room / great room. I recommend a large TV (minimum 36 inch) in the living room, and smaller ones in the bedrooms (15 - 24 inch are fine). Small flat screen TVs need to be mounted on the wall or bureaus for security reasons. Cable TV or Satellite: Dont offer pay per view features. Its too hard to keep track of those charges. Internet (DSL): WiFi router is an expected feature. Almost all tourists travel with laptops... and they get upset if they dont have internet access. Most renters do request WiFi. Stereo and C/D player: Most guests travel with iPods in todays market, but most still expect some kind of music player. This should not be an expensive unit. It can be a large boom box type with detachable speakers and should be large enough that people do not try to take it outside. 4 - Maintenance and Housekeeping Your vacation rental must be well maintained and kept immaculately clean. Keep in mind, that while your house is not a hotel, you are offering it as a vacation accommodation to travelers, and guests will expect maintenance and cleanliness standards set by nice hotels. This is not a place to cut corners, and if you do, your house will soon appear on a travel log such as Trip Advisor, Flip Key, or rental review sites with negative comments. Bad reviews about poor cleaning and maintenance, even if they are exaggerated by unscrupulous guests, can quickly stigmatize your house and discourage future guests from renting it. You simply must commit to bearing the cost to keeping your house to quality standard. Most vacation rental agencies collect a departure cleaning fee in advance from the guests to clean it when they leave. Guests expect and deserve to arrive to a clean and tidy property. Set a cleaning rate that will cover your costs to clean the house thoroughly each and every time guests depart. Make sure you plan enough time to clean the house, and better yet hire a good professional housekeeper. Make sure carpets and furniture are cleaned as needed. During periods when your house is not rented, be sure you give it a deep clean. Replace towels and linens with new ones as necessary, and never make a bed or make up a bathroom with tired or stained linens or towels. If your house has porches or decks and outdoor furniture, they must be kept scrubbed and free from mildew and look fresh for every guest who checks in. Same with windows, yards, landscaping, swimming pools, and Jacuzzi tubs - they must be maintained to quality standard or you will get complaints. This goes for household maintenance issues as well. You will need to hone your handy-man skills and make sure all the light bulbs work, a/c filters are changed, the internet is working, TV remotes work, the toilets are flushing properly, and the pool and Jacuzzi heaters are working right. You will also need to be on call to go over to the property and provide minor repairs. Unless you live in the same town as your rental, and you are absolutely committed to maintaining it, hire professionals to do this for you. If you are not willing or able to do this, or cannot quickly respond to any maintenance needs, I strongly recommend that you hire a professional rental agency that is staffed up to provide these kind of services. It will save you a lot of head ache and could save the reputation of your rental house. 5 - Managing Your Property - Advertising, Reservations, Rental Contracts, Bookkeeping The final basic step to turning your house into a successful vacation home is to start advertising it and taking reservations. Today, there are several mega-vacation rental advertising websites to choose from that have huge data bases of available rental properties. Most of these are set up so you can you can post your own ad copy and download your own property photos. Expect to pay over $500. to get positioned on-line so that prospective renters can find your property. You can also use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the availability of your property. If you decide to manage your property yourself, you must be completely committed to every aspect of the administrative process. This means answering email and phone inquiries in a timely manner, maintaining an availability calendar, talking with potential guests to determine if they are appropriate renters for your house, writing and sending rental contracts to guests, collecting rental fees, collecting and paying required bed and / or sales tax, collecting and refunding security deposits (or determining costs where there is damage), paying housekeepers and maintenance people, paying utilities, keeping licenses current, and generally staying on top of the bookkeeping. There are several home-based reservation management software packages available to help you stay organized, but they will only work if you are diligent about keeping the information updated.
Facts About the Four Major Feng Shui House Types : Classical feng shui students learn about the four major house types within the first few days of instruction. These houses are described in broad brush strokes. Two of the four are supportive for health and relationships and two are not. Two of the four are supportive for financial luck and the other two are not. But to place too much emphasis on these four categories of house types, is like judging a book by its cover or a painting by its frame. In the 20th century, these four house types were given catchy descriptions, translated from more non-literal Chinese terms, whereby we have one house type that is now labeled good for people/good for money (aka Wang Shan Wang Shui). The exact opposite house type is referred to as Reversed, as in the reverse of the best house. Then there are the two mixed house types, with one being deemed good for people/bad for money (Double Sitting) and the other one good for money/bad for people (Double Facing.) In reality, we know that life is more complicated, and yet we all know someone who is wealthy, but unhealthy or wealthy but very unhappy. We also know of people who are strong physically and mentally, with loving family members and close friendships, but maybe chronic financial struggles. So it is easy to assume that these four major house personalities cast their influence on the occupants to create these real discrepancies. In studying Xuan Kong Fei Xing, there are actually 144 different house charts, but these 144 flying star charts can all be grouped into the four major categories. These categories are determined based on when a house was built and what direction it is sitting or facing, so it is not like seeing a house with certain physical characteristics which would be so obvious. One of the most frustrating things I encounter frequently is a prospective client who wants me to assist them in house hunting and they have heard about this good for people/good for money house and they only want to live in that house type and no others. This is a very myopic way to go house hunting since what qualifies as good Feng Shui overall is based on a lot of criteria which is not determined based solely on the houses orientation or year built. In fact, there are so many instances when a floor plan lay-out is flawed, that it seriously undercuts or over-rides the nature of the so-called best house of these four major categories. For example, I had one client whose house was deemed this Wang Shan Wang Shui (good for people/good for money house type.) Meanwhile, the actual floor plan demonstrated that the bedrooms, entrance and home office were in the worst parts of the house. To backtrack a little, it should be understood that no house on the planet has all inherently positive areas. On average, there are about four of the total eight basic directional zones in any structure that are considered better or worse than the others. Here is a specific example: For a house which was built in 1985 and facing south between 160-170 degrees, the best locations (in the flying star chart) will be in the northwest, north, northeast and east sectors. The other directions (west, southwest, southeast and south) are not as inherently positive in the current times for that particular house type. So at this point, we have not even studied the floor plan. We are just speculating about the most positive influences for that one house, being one of the 144 total flying star charts to consider. So with this house in mind which was supposed to be so good, that client had perpetual financial problems, marital woes, problems with his children, legal issues, kidney problems for both husband and wife, as well as a serious burglary where they lost valuables totaling $100,000.00. So, I would not call that a good for people/good for money house. In contrast, I have a client who enjoys world-wide fame as an actor in TV and film and yet he lives in a Reversed house type, which is supposed to be bad for people and bad for money. He has a happy home life and does quite well in his career which has spanned more than 30 years. So, how is that possible? Well, aside from destiny which over rides Feng Shui, this man happens to naturally dwell in the most positive parts of his house instead of the most negative parts. His bedroom and office and convenient back door entrance totally support his good fortune. This is why I sometimes beg my clients to provide me with a floor plan when they are house hunting. So many people get the mistaken impression that all I need is an address, to look up the year built and compass reading on the internet. Without a floor plan to study, about 80% of the information is missing or based on guesstimates. So, now I hope I have well established that the four major house types cannot and do not predict exactly what kind of fortune or misfortune the occupants may experience. The basic house type must be collaborated with the unique floor plan, and understanding of qi flow, the impact of the immediate exterior environment and even personal compatibility with the house based on the occupants birth data and occupation. The lesser known fact about the four major houses styles still eludes many long time practitioners. And that important fact is that the four house types do not retain their status into perpetuity. Many practitioners assume once a Reversed house, always a Reversed house. And they assume the same fate for the other three house types. But this is actually, technically not so. What established the four major house types to begin with is based on criteria relevant to the Period in which a house was built. Once a house surpasses its own Construction Period, it relinquishes its title as one of the four major house types. For example, Period 5 was from 1944 through 1963. For houses built during that 20 year Era, they are referred to as Period 5 houses. However, they are no longer the Wang Shan Wang Shui, Reversed, Double Sitting or Double Facing house type that they originally were. In each 20 Year Era, there are sixteen different house types based just on orientation and then they get further grouped into the four major house types. However, after 1964, those Period 5 houses ceased to be defined by those definitions. In Period 8, which is from 2004 through 2023, we have houses built during this time frame which are correctly classified as one of the four house types, but those terms will end in 2024 when Period 9 begins. At that point in time, only Period 9 houses will qualify as one of the four major house types. Houses from all other Periods are exempt. We have 9 Periods that each last for 20 years. This means that most houses are not one of the four major house types, even though it sounds like a category that all would fall into.
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