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The Short-Term-Stays Boom

Tips for leasing out your holiday home

From rural retreats to summer beach houses, Victoria is blessed with a myriad of private holiday options for all seasons. But if you own a holiday home, how do you make your property stand out from the crowd and deliver you a handy holiday season income? We’ve put together a few tips to help keep your holiday home well-booked and stress-free.

Be realistic about numbers

How many people can your property accommodate comfortably? If it’s a cozy one-bedroomed cottage or sprawling villa, the answer is probably easier to work out. But what if you have three or four bedrooms? Is that one family or two? Is it a home for families anyway or is your target shorter-stay adult groups? These considerations will have an impact on how your home is set up… especially the bedrooms.

Get the bed mix right

How you configure your beds is important and can be the difference between a full season and a patchy year. Younger children on holidays often like the fun of sharing a bunk room. On the other side, a group of adults probably want more privacy, but they won’t necessarily be all couples. Most groups are fairly flexible and relaxed over the short term, but some configurations are pretty much expected.

The main bedroom should have one king size bed (or queen at least). Depending on the type of house and clientele you’re looking to attract, the second bedroom should probably have a pair of singles that can become a comfortable queen size bed if necessary. Alternatively a single and a set of bunks is often a good option. Three bedrooms or more make things easier to calculate, with the second bedroom providing for grown-ups and the remaining bedrooms catering for younger guests in bunks and/or singles. A comfortable sofa-bed can also add extra flexibility and appeal.

A good night’s sleep is paramount to a good stay, and the right pillow can make all the difference. Consider offering a choice of pillow options – but don’t put them all on the bed. Instead, save on laundry by keeping them in the wardrobe, and placing a note on the side table.

Keep it simple

From furnishings to décor, unless the architecture or history of your home calls for a very distinctive style, keep furniture attractively functional and decorations uncluttered. Choose furniture to fit the theme of the home and avoid using it as a repository of your old cast-off sofas and lounge suites. And remember, red wine will get spilt, small children will fiddle with upholstery buttons, vases and ornaments will get broken and items will go missing.

When decorating, again, simplicity is key. Give the interiors a calm, tranquil ambience. Parents want to relax on holiday, not worry about small hands creating a big damage bill. And the fewer ornaments, the easier it is to keep surfaces dust-free. Bedside tables with individual lamps on each side of the main beds are always appreciated, as is lots of cupboard and storage space – this can be as simple as affixing attractive wall hooks if floor space is limited.

Make life easier for your guests

Take the fuss out of holidays by including the basics such as a clean, modern microwave, a dishwasher if possible, washing machine, clothes pegs, fans and air conditioner. Ensure there’s a mop, broom, dustpan, all-purpose cleaning spray and small vacuum cleaner handy for the inevitable spill. A well maintained barbecue is pretty much expected in every holiday home, but again, avoid ones that are too complicated.

In the kitchen, include basic condiments and essentials such as salt, pepper, cooking oil, sugar, tea bags, toilet paper, paper towel, plenty of fresh tea towels, new kitchen sponges, washing up detergent (hand and dishwasher) and finally, a packet of bi-carb soda for red wine spills. As this is Victoria, ensure your guests have a way to brew fresh coffee in the morning, and open a bottle of wine in the evening.

Think about what your guests might be doing during the day, and include fixtures that they’ll probably need when they get back, such as a sturdy clothes lines or rails for drying wet beach towels and wetsuits. If you’re near the ski fields or in mountain areas where it’s likely to be wet, a drying room is a bonus.

Negotiate with local businesses about offering discounts to your guests, and if you really want to add a special touch, a small basket of local produce and essentials (e.g. gourmet coffee and/or biscuits) will always make guests feel extra welcome.

Finally, don’t forget that the smarter the home, the higher the expectations.

Add to its appeal

Consider investing in features that give your home extra appeal. In winter, there’s nothing more inviting than a real fire. While an open fire adds a definite charm – especially in winter locations – an enclosed combustion fire is generally safer and less smoky. Outdoor heated spas and hot-tubs can be a major drawcard at any time of the year, though they do come with extra maintenance costs (and come with special rules around access, night use and water consumption). Their relative rarity however can increase your chances of a booking.

If you’re by the sea, you can save parents a lot of headaches by installing a simple outdoor shower to help prevent small feet from traipsing half the beach through the house.

Cater for diverse needs

Dog owners will happily pay extra (and book earlier and more frequently) if they can bring their furry family members. A fenced yard, comfortable kennel and dog bowl (together with clear rules about cleaning up) can earn you a tidy premium, regular guests and valuable referrals.

With Australia’s aging population, making your home seniors-friendly can also be a bonus. Consider ways to make your home as accessible as possible by minimising difficult steps, adding sturdy but unobtrusive rails in bathrooms, and even adding a wheelchair (and pram) ramp.

Watch out for potential allergens. Strongly fragranced cleaning products, automatic air ‘fresheners’, feather doonas and pillows and highly pollened (or dangerous) plants can turn a relaxing holiday into nightmare of hives, rashes, migraines, and even hospital visits. Where possible, avoid feather pillows and doonas, and ask cleaners to use hypo-allergenic cleaning products.

Picture perfect

Even if you list exclusively through a property management agency, attractive online photographs can make a huge difference. Consider hiring the services of a photographer who specialises in real estate as they’re the experts in capturing . Don’t forget to highlight the relaxing holiday features – both in the photos and any marketing text – such as views, seclusion and privacy, balconies and decks for dining, spa baths, outdoor fire pits, accessibility and local attractions.

Make it relaxing for you as well

Letting out your holiday home should be as relaxing for you as it is for your guests. The assumed savings achieved by self-listing with online accommodation sites such as Stayz and AirBnB must always be measured against the stress and inconvenience of managing a holiday home yourself – especially if you don’t live nearby.

However, appointing a reliable, local agent, such as the holiday lettings managers at RT Edgar’s popular coastal and regional offices, can take away all the hassle of having to deal with booking replies and late-night queries, settling security bonds, sorting out lost keys, organising cleaners and maintenance, following up on issues and keeping track of payments. In fact, investing in a property manager will go a long way to ensuring that your holiday home is as relaxing for you as it is for your guests.