Minneapolis, Minnesota will experience an influx of tourists for the Super Bowl. If you live in the area and have a spare room, this event is an excellent opportunity to make a little extra cash. You’ve probably been thinking about listing your place on some of the various vacation rental sites, and now’s your chance. Better yet, if the crowds of the Super Bowl are something you want to avoid, you could take your own vacation during the week and rent out your entire home. It can be a little intimidating if you don’t know where to start, so here are 7 tips for renting your home for Super Bowl Week and beyond.
1. Check the Rules
Before you begin renting, check with county and city officials about the zoning requirements for short-term rental properties in your neighborhood. Some areas require vacation rental owners to apply for a business license or a permit to rent their homes on a short-term basis. Homeowners associations might even have their own rules regarding certain apartment complexes or subdivisions. Furthermore, you might be require to complete a safety inspection and install things like fire extinguishers and deadbolt locks.
2. Do you need help?
If you’re only renting your home out for Super Bowl weekend, it will be easier to manage your property on your own, but if you’d like to continue offering your place as a vacation rental, you might want to look into using a property manager. You will have to pay a property management company a commission, but they’ll help you manage every aspect of renting your home like advertising, handling guests, hiring service providers, collecting and remitting sales tax, and more.
Companies can charge a range of 10% – 50% of the rental income. If you’d rather do it on your own, look for a trustworthy housekeeper and handyman, as well as an attorney familiar with the vacation rental market and an accountant who can advise you about bookkeeping procedures and income tax implications for vacation rental homeowners.
3. Prepare Your Place
Your place is probably already furnished and decorated, but there’s a lot to consider when it comes to convenience and your guests’ comfort. First, remove and valuable or irreplaceable items from your home and create a lockable closet for your other personal belongings that you’d like easier access to. Also, make sure your home is free of clutter. In the kitchen, have enough plates, glasses, and flatware for double the number of people that you sleep. Guests also appreciate a coffee pot and adequate cooking utensils.
Each bedroom should have at least two sets of high quality, pillows, and extra blankets. The bathroom should be spotless with plenty of bath towels, washcloths, and hand towels, as well as a hair dryer. The living room should have a TV large enough for guests to watch from across the room with at least basic cable and a DVD player. Guests will also expect high-speed wireless internet.
4. It’s All in the Marketing
Now that your home is ready to go, you’ve got to put it out there for guests to find. There are many vacation rental listing websites out there like HomeAway.com or VRBO.com. These websites usually charge between $200 and $500 per year to connect you with potential travelers.
Some homeowners also create a personal website which allows you to provide extra photos and more detailed descriptions. While they can be helpful, they’re not necessary. In your listing, you’ll definitely want to include your proximity to U.S. Bank Stadium and other popular attractions as well as the size of your place, how many guests you can accommodate, and the price.
5. Create the Listing
Most vacation rental websites make it easy to create a listing and will guide you through the necessary information. Usually, this will include a headline, photos, a full description, rental rates, a list of amenities, and calendar of availability. Past guests can also leave reviews which will help attract more guests if you decide to continue renting your house in the future.
For an attention-grabbing headline, you should use words that clearly describe your home and its major selling points like the location and amenities. In the description, write clearly and concisely, but in a personable way that will help guests imagine happily staying there. Then, take plenty of photos using a digital camera and natural light. Vacation rental properties with more than 4 photos get twice as many inquiries as listings with 4 or less. Finally, set your rental rates by comparing the prices of similar vacation rental properties in your area.
6. How to Take Reservations
After travelers find you on one of the vacation rental websites, they’ll likely contact you by phone or email. To encourage bookings, check your email and phone messages often and reply immediately. Of course, always be detailed and friendly.
One of the biggest fears of listing your house as a vacation rental is welcoming strangers into your home. It’s a great idea to screen guests on the phone before accepting their booking by asking questions like how many people are in their party and if they have any children or pets. Make deposits and payment easy for guests by accepting credit cards, and always send them a copy of your rental rules and billing confirmation. PayPal, personal checks and bank-to-bank wire transfers are other common ways to accept payment.
7. Handling Keys
If you’ll be present the dates of your guests’ stay, you can arrange to meet them to hand off the keys. If you’re going to be out of the house or even out of town, you can install a lock box on the doorknob for around $25 or a keyless entry door lock which can cost between $150 and $500. The downside to using a lock box is that you’ll want to change the code between every guest.
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