Buyer Resources

Using Your Hilton Head Home As a Vacation Rental


If you don’t plan to move to your Hilton Head Island home for a while, you may want to consider setting it up as a vacation rental. Hilton Head Island and the greater Hilton Head area for that matter, are a vacationer’s paradise and using your Hilton Head Island home as a vacation home can generate additional revenue that can offset the cost of having a home in Hilton Head or a home in Bluffton.

If you’re thinking about using your home as a vacation rental, here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision.

Decide If Your Hilton Head Home is SuitableSome Hilton Head homes are perfect for a vacation rental, others are not. If you’re in a plantation, you’ll want to check your homeowner’s association CCRs about this. It may not be allowed. Otherwise, you need to ask if your vacation rental would be in a desirable location? Does it have features someone would enjoy like high speed Internet, a hot tub, Jacuzzi tub in the master or large plasma screen TVs and a Wii? Finally, ask yourself if you would rent it if you were on vacation in Hilton Head Island and needed a Hilton Head vacation home.

Get the Home Ready to Rent
Your home on Hilton Head Island needs to be in good repair if you’re going to rent it. Everything should work, the lawn should be mowed, the faucets and outlets should all work, the locks should open easily so guests don’t break a key and windows and doors should open easily. Make sure you have a large closet where you can store your personal items and get a keyed lock for it.

Find a Housekeeping Service
If you’re going to run a Hilton Head Island rental you need to keep it clean. Find a housekeeping service or maid who can clean the home once guests have left and return it to ready-for-the-next-guest form. This is especially important if you’re not on the island and can’t swing by yourself to tidy up and wash linens.

Create a System For Getting the Key
If you’re renting your home out your guest will need the key. If you’re using a property management company, the guest ordinarily stops by the office to get the key. Otherwise, you will need to get a lockbox with a combination lock on it, similar to the ones realtors use. If you have a property management firm, the agent will usually walk through the property with the guest, give them welcome instructions and provide an overview of the property.

Create a Welcome Packet
To be certain that your guests enjoy their time and do everything to your liking, create a welcome book that tells them how to get on the Internet, how to use the electronics, where the trash and recycling go, where extra towels and linens are located, etc. Leave this in the kitchen or on the coffee table in the living room so your guests can easily find the packet. You may also want to include menus from area restaurants and instructions on where the nearest supermarket is located.

Take Photos of the Property and Area
You will be using these to market your vacation rental in Hilton Head Island on the Internet, either on a website for the property, on the property management site or on a host of websites dedicated to vacation rentals, such as vacationrentals.com. As you shoot the photos review them to make sure they aren’t amateurish. Remember, you’re trying to market your Hilton Head vacation rental to someone who has never seen it before. If your photos are poorly lit, out of focus, dark or not well composed and your competitor’s photos are, you may lose out on a booking. People want to visualize what they are renting these days so put your vacation rental in Hilton Head on its best footing and take great photos, even if you need to bring in a professional photographer.

Prepare a Description of the Hilton Head Vacation Home
Guests want to know what they are renting. Go room by room and tell them what is there. This includes the number and type of beds in each room, the number of bathrooms, whether there are certain electronics in the home such as a DVD player or cable, etc. Don’t forget to talk about the outside as well, such as the number of people your pool, hot tub or patio can comfortably accommodate at one time.

Decide Whether You’re Going to Use a Rental Agent or Property Management Company
If you don’t live in Hilton Head Island then you’ll want to hire a firm to manage the property for you. This can be a rental agent or property management firm. You’ll need to interview prospects to see what their fees are, how they keep track of bookings and how often they make payments to you. Also, you want to know if the contract is exclusive or if you can supplement their bookings with ones you find on your own or get through sites such as vacationrentals.com.

Keep Meticulous Records
Your vacation rental in Hilton Head Island is considered a business by the IRS so you want to keep all the records on the home, including maintenance fees, management fees, revenue from bookings and the cost of handling those bookings, including website charges, housekeeping fees, etc.

Market your Hilton Head Vacation Home
Now it’s time to bring business in. If you know a bit about the Internet you can create a website for your vacation rental property. You can also list it on any number of vacation rental websites. Just understand that bookings made through these sites incur a fee on top of the fee you’re already paying to list there. But the additional bookings can be worth it. Create a page for your Hilton Head vacation home on social network sites such as Facebook. And be sure your friends and relatives know that you have a vacation home they can rent. You may even want to offer a Friends and Family discount.

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