How I rent my summer vacation home
Own a vacation home? It's never been easier to rent out the weeks that it's vacant.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For vacationers, there's an affordable, comfortable and convenient alternative to booking a hotel room. It's renting a whole house.
And for owners of those vacation homes, the logistics of renting their excess weeks out for profit have never been easier.
Ideally, it's a win-win for both parties; owners make some extra bucks and vacationers get more for their money, often surprisingly more.
Christine Karpinski, author of "How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner" and a director of HomeAway.com, an online market place for vacation home rentals, says, "The average traveler thinks that vacation homes are expensive to rent . . . but the vast majority of the homes available are reasonable." Reasonable means within the $100 to $300 a night peak season range. Off peak, a nice place might be $100 to $200 a night.
As for the owner, Karpinski says a recent poll of her HomeAway clients revealed that the average weekly rate they received in rentals came to $1,656 and nearly half the respondents said their homes are occupied about 20 weeks per year. That suggests that an average owner could expect to bring in more than $33,000 in revenue a year.
During the past decade millions of Americans bought vacation homes. In 2005, nearly 40 percent of all single family home purchases were for second homes. Most were bought primarily as investments but about a third of the purchases were as vacation homes.
Hundreds of thousands of vacation properties are available for short-term rentals. HomeAway, alone has more than 70,000 properties available worldwide. These often are bargains for cost-conscious consumers.
Here's an example:
A beautiful three-bedroom, three-bath 2,078 square foot adobe-style house in Sedona, Arizona with one king-size bed and two queens, cable television and video library, stereo, fireplace, barbecue and more costs all of $1,400 a week, any season.
Compare that with a decent hotel in town, which will cost at least $100 a night per room - $2,100 a week. And hotel rooms don't have the extras that make a home rental even more of a deal and that add to the pleasure of vacationing.
For instance, these homes boast full kitchens and often barbecue grills; families save big money by eating in.
Plus, there are often things to do around the house itself. In a hotel room, there's a television and that's that, but many vacation rentals have stereos, DVD players, game rooms, pool tables and other family-friendly diversions.
"I've found that people who stay in private homes don't feel as compelled to cram in every touristy activity in town," says Karpinski. "They hang out more and relax, which is what a vacation should be about."
But for some vacationers it takes a leap of faith for some people to rent a house on line, sight otherwise unseen.
"Does the property really exist? Is it as represented? These are some of the questions vacationers ask themselves," she says.
Karpinski advices the faint of heart to take several steps to reassure themselves that the rental will go off as planned:
Karpinski's organization has a strict three strikes policy. After a property is the subject of three justified complaints, it is removed from the web site. Even one complaint, if blatant enough, can be grounds for removal.
What owners should know
For owners who want to rent out properties there are many places to list their properties. Besides HomeAway, there VRBO.com (vacation rentals by owner), Vacationfrbo.com, VacationRentals.com and many others.
Karpinski has advice for owners as well:
According to Karpinski, who rents out a couple of vacation homes herself, owners have few problems renting out their properties to strangers. She says that most guests are very respectful of the properties.