Turning Your Investment Property Into A Vacation Home


Ever asked yourself what to do with your home that is underwater financially?
Perhaps you\'ve tried renting it long-term only to find newly installed carpet ruined a year later by pets or neglect?

Landlords and homeowners struggle to determine what the best course of action is for their investment property in a great location which simply is not cash flowing. But, have they ever considered it as a vacation home?

We\'ve compiled the top questions homeowners ask us when considering transforming it to a vacation home:
 

1. How many properties in the same area will you manage?

Utah\'s Best Vacation Rentals (UBVR) is committed to maximizing reservations for all homeowners; as a result we do not want to saturate our inventory in one regional area.  We do not have a set number of properties that well manage in one area; we will not bring on more properties at the sacrifice of reservations of other properties in the same area. But, offering multiple homes in one geographical area is an advantage because when one popular home is not available,  other less popular homes are and they receive the overflow reservations. 

2. What is the property to staff (non-housekeeping) ratio?

UBVR values all our owners and guests and have deliberately structured our company to ensure that needs are taken care of. For eight to ten homes we manage we have one to two staff members. This allows us to maximize reservations and properly take care of your property.

3. How do you support guests and owners during their stays?

Our office is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday to serve owners and guests. After 5:00 PM and before 9:00 AM and on weekends we have an emergency phone line that routes to the cell phone of staff members on call to respond to guest and owner emergencies. In addition, we offer a guest services manager and staff who are available for special requests, concerns, and to help coordinate with responsible departments to ensure guest satisfaction and management of the property.  It\'s also a great benefit to the guest and competitive advantage to provide staff  familiar with the area who can make recommendations or provide local information.

4. How do you find guests?

Most of our marketing is done online through vacation rental websites and other major lodging and tourism websites. We also work with travel agents and wholesalers to subsidize our marketing, which gives more opportunities for exposure and ultimately higher occupancy.  We also market through various associations where we are members including: Ski Utah, Utah Ski and Snowboard Association,  Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau,  Vacation Rental Managers Association, and Utah Hotel and Lodging Association.

5. What precautions are taken to ensure my property is not damaged?

Utah\'s Best Vacation Rentals appreciates the investment you have made in your property and have policies and procedures to minimize damage:

         A UBVR representative speaks with every guest prior to confirming any reservation, including those guests who book online. This personal contact allows us to know the group and their needs before they arrive. It also allows us to describe our policy on parties and large functions.

         We require at least a 2 night minimum on all reservations unless we receive permission from home owners for a specific reservation.

         Our rental agreement, which we require every guest to sign before confirming a reservation and to disclose all guests in their party, states that properties cannot be used for hosting weddings, parties or other large gatherings and that smoking on the premises and pets are not allowed. We enforce this policy by evicting guests who host parties or other large functions and charge guests a minimum of $500 for smoking inside the property or for housing a pet.

         We take even further measures to guard against guest negligence. Guest is required to sign a fine addendum to the rental agreement, listing all violations and relative fine amounts for things such as lost key, unsecured home upon departure, excessive party size, unauthorized street parking, failure to put trash out, etc. This policy further protects UBVR  and property owner against guest negligence.

         We also hold $500 from guest credit card 48 hours prior to arrival and 48 hours after departure to cover any additional damages not covered in our insurance fee.

         Occasionally there are guests who cause damage to the property. We offer our guests an accidental damage insurance, which covers accidental damage to the property. This insurance is added to each reservation and protects guest up to $3,000 in accidental damage that may occur during their stay.  Payment of damage claims are timely and have proved to be a great help.  

         We have made inspections a priority. Before a guest arrives and after the cleaning crew has finished cleaning, an arrival inspection is done. This allows us to ensure the home is ready for the guest and to assess the condition of the home. Upon departure the cleaning crew arrives to complete a final inspection and compared to the arrival inspection. This often allows our inspectors to be in a property twice a day. By doing an arrival and departure inspection we can charge the guest for any damage beyond reasonable wear and tear. Whenever a property is vacant more than one week we do an inspection to ensure everything is in order.

         Randomly, we drive by properties to ensure the guest is not hosting parties.

         We use key boxes and garage key pads to gain access to the property.  On some of our nicest properties, we do not provide keys to guests. This minimizes lost keys and helps keep properties secure. Each guest is provided a key box code or key pad code 1-2 days before arrival, not before.

6. What does it cost me to list my property with your company?

There is a one-time set up fee that is approximately $600 based on the size of your property. This fee covers stocking and maintaining the home with linens, creating a unit page for our website, and adding a key box. The linens belong to Utah\'s Best Vacation Homes as well as the key box. Our commission is 50% if home is furnished and equipped, 60% if UBVR furnishes and equips the property. Other costs vary based on individual properties needs and include:

         Required deep clean 1-2 times a year

         Window cleaning

         Annual supplies (e.g. filters, batteries)

         Carpet cleaning

         Yard care & snow removal

         Hot tub

7. What is the cost for service calls?

Utah\'s Best Vacation Rentals charges a fee for service calls requiring maintenance. Because our maintenance staff is in-house, most repairs can be made without outsourcing, saving the owner money by avoiding paying full retail price. If the service call is in response to our guests needs you will not be charged. To maintain our standards we reserve the right to replace or fix any non-emergency problem without an owners approval if the cost is less than $200. If it is an emergency (i.e. broken pipe at 3:00 AM) we will respond immediately to the problem.

8. How many nights can I expect?

The amount of nights you can expect is dependent on several factors including the economy, location, rates, sleeping capacity, owner use, weather, decor and furnishings, when we receive your contract, and amenities such as hot tub, pool, theater,  game tables, HD TVs, internet, and air conditioning. What sets UBVR apart from other companies is year round reservations offered. Summer months are many times more occupied than winter months. In 2011, we averaged 105 nights per property, with our highest 236 nights. For a more accurate estimate on your property please contact our director of acquisitions at (801) 747-0218.


9. Are there restrictions on how often I can stay at my property?

We realize one reason you own your property is so you can stay there, but in order for both of us to benefit we have some restrictions during our peak seasons. From December 15 - March 31 you can stay 14 nights at your property. During the rest of the year we do not limit the amount of nights you stay.

10. Who stays with Utah\'s Best Vacation Rentals?

Not only do we pride ourselves for personally knowing the homes we manage, but we know who stays in them. Every reservation contract requires guest to fill out a guest list with names, ages, and relationship to guest of each guest in their party. In addition, we document the reason for their stay and work hard to cater our marketing to organizations attracting high quality people.  This information allows us to better serve our guests to gain repeat guests and grow our  year round occupancy. Most our guests are families, ski groups, convention attendees, and business retreats. 87% of our guests generally vacation with family and 59% take at least one ski vacation a year.