How to make money from your holiday unit all year round

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Investors can struggle to rent out holiday homes during the off-season. Here’s how to keep your occupancy rate up.

Renting out holiday accommodation in sought-after areas during peak season is generally very lucrative. However, many investors struggle to rent out their properties at less popular times of the year when holidaymakers are thinner on the ground. Here are some tips for maximising your chances of consistently renting out your holiday home all year round.

Advertise effectively

Identify who your holiday home will appeal to and direct your marketing efforts accordingly. If, for example, most of those making bookings in your area hail from a particular part of the country, consider advertising in those local newspapers or on localised, targeted social media groups. Make sure the photographs advertising the property portray it in the best possible light. Consider hiring a professional photographer if necessary.

Likewise, provide a detailed, correctly spelt and grammatically correct (it has a huge impact…promise) description of the home, highlighting the finer points. Don’t forget to include a list of amenities in the area, and it’s always a good idea to include a roundup of recommended local restaurants.

Don’t assume that just because your holiday home is situated on a specialised estate such as a golf estate that only golfers will be interested in booking the unit. In this instance, while it would of course be advisable to target your advertising on the various golfing social media sites, remember not every holidaymaker is necessarily an avid, die-hard golfing fan.

Kit the home out with comfort in mind

Seaside homes generally attract young families. Make sure your unit caters for this by having items such as high chairs and safety gates available in double storey units. Make your unit stand out by supplying board games, sporting equipment and comfy loungers if there’s a swimming pool on the premises. Consider putting in a good television set, provide a stable WiFi connection and make up the beds with high quality linen. It’s often the smaller things that make the biggest impact and a thoughtful touch like fresh flowers or a small fruit basket usually go down a treat. Buy the most comfortable furniture you can afford. Guests aren’t going to enjoy sitting on a forty year old cane lounge suite any more than you would. The same goes for the beds. Sagging mattresses don’t make for a good night’s sleep and certainly wouldn’t encourage a return visit. Word of mouth advertising is always going to be the biggest drawcard for holidaymakers and the more comfortable the unit, the more likely it will be rented out throughout the year.

Provide clear instructions for any appliances in the unit and ensure that a handyman is on call to repair any faulty items. Better still, check and service the appliances regularly to ensure they remain in good working order.

Stick to the rules

Holiday renters need to be made aware of the body corporate rules if the unit is in a sectional title complex. Parking is often a major issue and holidaymakers should receive clear instructions on where they can and can’t park before they book in. Noise levels can cause enormous trouble with the body corporate. Avoid renting out to large groups (such as students) if you know there’s a good chance they may disturb the neighbours. Remember that you and not the holidaymaker will be responsible for any fines incurred by those disregarding the body corporate rules.

Manage the property

There are many benefits to using an agent to advertise and manage your holiday home bookings. As always, use a reputable, registered agent who is in possession of a Fidelity Fund certificate. Fly by nighters and con artists have been known to let a unit on the sly, pocketing the cash in the process. Keep a close eye on things and start asking questions if the electricity and water usage seems higher than usual, even if the agent is adamant that no one has stayed in the unit. Better still, make an arrangement with a neighbour to inform you when someone is staying on the property.

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