South Coast Escapes – August Newsletter

We’re finally in the last month of winter, which means it’s your last chance to squeeze in some cosy quality time away! With that freshness in the air, the heaters are enjoying their pride of place in the living room, and getting out of a warm bed in the morning still feels like a crime. Fortunately, a beautiful area like the Shoalhaven is stunning at all times of the year, and we wouldn’t want you to stay cold and bored at home.

The Palings living areaHave a look at the gorgeous properties on our website, like The Palings at Culburra Beach, a magnificent two-story residence with every comfort you could want. The central heating, fireplace AND woodstove will keep you cosy indoors whilst you enjoy the entertainment system or some old school vinyl, or you can take some wine and blankets out onto one of the many verandas to watch the sunset over the distant mountains turn to the most magnificent display of the Milky Way you’ve ever seen.

Milky Way over Shoalhaven Heads wharf

Milky Way over Shoalhaven Heads wharf | Photo Credit: Visit Shoalhaven

Entertainment

For some family-friendly theatre, the immensely popular musical production Wicked! The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz is coming to the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. Presented by the Albatross Musical Theatre Company, the show promises a full orchestra and a cast of over fifty members, which is sure to do this powerhouse of a show justice. If you’ve never had the opportunity to catch this musical before, this is your chance.

The Sydney Comedy Festival Showcase Tour will be traveling down South to bring the Crème de la crème of comedy to the Shoalhaven! Boasting a line-up of veteran favourites, international stars, and some of the freshest emerging talents, this jam-packed night of pure entertainment will leave you sore from belly laughs.

Food & Wine

For a culinary indulgence, the Shoalhaven’s very own hatted restaurant, St Isidore, is closing its doors on the 24th of August! Last chance for culinary wonders and access to an extensive wine cellar! However, if you’d rather not do the drive, Jervis Bay sits smack bang in the Shoalhaven Coast wine region (that’s right, we have a wine region), and there are NINE wineries to choose from.

On the other hand, why choose? Pick one of the many wine tour companies in the area and do some vineyard hopping! Some of them, like Wine Knot, allow customisable tours depending on location and whether you’re a foodie or just thirsty, and will pick you up and drop you off to all your specifications, with a custom music playlist for the roads between. Whether you’re holidaying with your partner or in a big group, there is the tour out there for you.
wine knot tours

Outdoors

To work off all the excellent food and drink you’ll be having (perhaps not until the next day, if you did that wine trail), head out west to Kangaroo Valley and spend a day on the Three Views walking track in Morton National Park. Getting out in nature won’t cost you a thing except for some change for parking; it’s almost completely flat which makes it suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and the colder weather means you won’t overheat!

Three Views walking track in Morton National Park Kangaroo Valley

As the name suggests, Three Views walking track incorporates three cliff-edge viewing points, each boasting a different spectacular sight. Spend the day walking the easy 9.5km return track that follows the Brooks Plateau and Moolatoo Trig fire trails through open woodland and head to your choice of viewing points. You’ll enjoy incredible views of rivers and gorges, along with spectacular wildflower glimpses in late winter and spring.

Jerrawangala lookout in Jerrawangala National Park

Another option is the Jerrawangala lookout in Jerrawangala National Park. There are few more uplifting ways to start a day than taking by in a sunrise from the peak at Jerrawangala lookout, with its sweeping, panoramic views out over the hinterland to the coast.

Crookhaven Heads, New South Wales

South Coast Escapes

Welcome to the first Professional Holiday Homes newsletter! In this monthly newsletter, we’ll be sharing some of the best events on the South Coast, as well as showing you some of our wonderful properties that we know will want to make you jump in the car and stay with us again.

What’s more, by booking directly with us via our website you can save a bundle!

Crookhaven Heads, New South WalesWinter is here, if you can believe it! The rain and wind never seem to stay long, and with the sun shining and the ocean sparkling most of this week, it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of everything the Shoalhaven has to offer in the off-peak season. Treat yourself to some private luxury, see live music, or just stroll around the gorgeous environment and enjoy the sights in the sun.

Mollymook, New South Wales

Whale Watching

One of the benefits of the cold weather is that we’re in peak whale watching season in the Shoalhaven, which is exactly halfway through their 4000km migration route! With so many beautiful properties right on the beach and lookouts dotted all over the coast, you’ll be spoiled for choice of locations to watch our favourite aquatic mammals go by on their long journey.

whale or dolphin watching

 

You can find excellent views from any of the various lighthouse lookouts in the Shoalhaven; including Crookhaven Heads, Penguins Head and Point Perpendicular; or book a guided tour out on the water with one of many local companies like Jervis Bay Wild to get up close and personal with the pods.

Penguins HeadIf you’re still feeling invigorated afterwards from all that fresh sea air, you can take advantage of your proximity to Jervis Bay National Park and take an easy stroll along the Hyams Beach trail, or head further into the National Park to catch a glimpse of protected native birds and animals, and visit the diverse range of preserved Aboriginal archaeological sites.

Live Music

If you don’t mind taking a trip down some back roads in Riversdale on the last day of June, you can enjoy an afternoon of live music at Bundanon Trust with Sydney duo The Clouds. Arrive in the late morning for enough time to wander through the iconic landscape that inspired one of Australia’s greatest artists, Arthur Boyd, and view the Bundanon art collection, then settle on the grass of the natural amphitheatre next to the on-site café and bar to enjoy the show.

Bundanon - Riversdale
Afternoon of live music at Bundanon Trust

Shopping

Keen to taste as much of this beautiful area as possible? Check out Vincentia Village Local Produce Pop Up on the 20th or Milton Produce Market on the 22nd for seasonal produce, fresh flowers, locally made preserves and pickles, and all the freshly-baked bread and pies you could hope for!

At the very north of the Shoalhaven is the wonderful town of Berry where you can happily spend a few hours browsing the shops and restaurants. The kids will love the toy shops, The Berry Bon Bon Sweet Shop, the delicious gelatarias, and the incredible fresh donuts from The Famous Berry Donut Van.

You’ll find lovely keepsakes at any of the many homeware stores, tea shops and boutiques, and keep an eye out for the slightly hidden but absolutely un-missable Bussola Restaurant, with delicious Italian food that won’t smoke a hole in your wallet.

Food & Wine

For the ultimate day at the beach in Jervis Bay, book a picnic through Hyams Beach Hampers for a luxury experience for two on the world’s whitest sand. Bring nothing but yourselves and your swimmers, and be supplied with a full set up with shade, loungers, sunscreen and towels, and a selection of gourmet local produce. For extra romance, there are packages for sunset and even proposals!

Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay

If you’d like a more traditional setting for dinner, you can book a table at one of the many highly-rated restaurants in Jervis Bay and surrounds such as Stonegrill Huskisson, which has a huge range of fresh seafood options, as well as the unique dining option of having your meal presented on a heat-retaining volcanic stone at your table!

The Top 10 Ways to Get More Holiday Home Bookings in 2019

In this article, CEO Craig Reid shares his top tips for getting more bookings for your holiday home in 2019…

1. Get Professional Photos

When it comes to holiday planning, it is all about visuals. Don’t kid yourself that your ‘snaps’ will be good enough! Professional real estate photos are surprisingly cheap: $2-300. You will get that back from one additional booking. Present the photos in this sequence: Hero (best) shot, living areas, kitchen, dining, bedrooms, bathrooms, garden and local area.

2. “Right” Pricing

The key to getting pricing right is to firstly understand your % occupancy (number of nights booked versus number of nights available to book). If you are within 3 hours of a major city and thereby your property strongly appeals to a weekend market, you should look at your occupancy for both weekends and weekdays. If your occupancy is below 90%, look to gradually drop your rates (e.g. $25 per night) until you see occupancy start to rise. As your occupancy gets above 90% it’s time to start nudging prices up. HomeAway’s Marketmaker tool is very useful to gauge the level of demand for properties and the average rates booked-but be careful to select your comparison set of properties as similar to yours as possible (capacity, location & facilities).

3. Embrace Technology

It’s the 21 st century, and guests expect unlimited wifi. You will lose around 20% of the potential market if you don’t have it. Don’t skimp by using wifi dongles; a proper ADSL or (even better) NBN connection is essential. In addition, Netflix is only $9.99 for the Basic plan of 1 screen ($13.99 for two screens or $19.99 for four). Don’t penny pinch by asking guests to log into their own Netflix account, and you should never charge the guest extra for wifi or Netflix. These are attractors which will move you to 90% occupancy.

4. Upgrade Amenities

Not only are guests’ expectations higher than ever but the booking platforms allow them to filter on amenities they are looking for. So if your property doesn’t have what they want, a tick in a box means they won’t even see your property. In addition to wifi and Netflix, here’s what to have so that guests don’t pass you by:

  • Linen and towels
  • Air Conditioning
  • Dishwasher
  • Espresso machine
  • Fully enclosed garden

5. Be Fast

Speed of response is a competitive differentiator. If you can respond to a customer quicker than anyone else (we recommend within 30 minutes using a professionally crafted template) your conversion rate will dwarf your competitors (conversion rate = number of bookings divided by number of enquiries). Conversion rate is one of the most important factors of rank calculation on the booking platforms. High conversion rate equals greater rank, greater rank equals greater visibility, and greater visibility equals more bookings.

6. Write Experiential Descriptions

You need well-crafted words to transport the guest into your property. A photo can show the whitest sand in the world, but the words needed are: “Wriggle your toes and watch your feet disappear into the sand! Doesn’t it feel great?” A photo of a person in a hammock doesn’t connect as well as saying: “Just try and stay awake as you watch the clouds pass overhead.” If you don’t have the skills to create a compelling description, it is worth investing in having your description professionally written. Online services such as Guesthook will do it all for you for a fee.

7. Lose the Rules

Excessive rules in a property description are a sure-fire way to make a guest bypass your listing. A few simple rules (2-3 is ideal) won’t scare your guests away. Common rules such as whether you allow parties or pets can be toggled on or off within the booking platforms and do not have to be stated as text in addition. Other rules that are specific to your property should be added in the rules sections on the platform, not the description itself. Investing in an online guidebook system (such as Hostfully.com) is a great way of letting guests have access to information about facilities at the property without bombarding them with instructions and rules.

8. Switch on Instant Booking

Many owners are scared of using instant booking because they want to carefully vet guests. However, if you clearly specify in your rules the criteria for the guests you accept (without being too onerous) you have protection from the wrong kind of guest booking your property and you can cancel without penalty. Instant booking not only receives higher exposure on the booking platforms but appeals to guests who don’t want to wait around for confirmation 24 hours later.

9. List on booking.com

Booking.com isn’t just for hotels anymore. The number of holiday homes is growing at an incredible pace – as are the bookings! Booking.com does not have an option where you can review the guest prior to accepting the booking, so all bookings are effectively “instant bookings”. However, similar to instant booking on other platforms you can request cancellation without penalty if the guests have breached your rules.

10. Never Cancel Bookings

If there is one thing that will sink your property listing faster than a stone, it is canceling bookings. Now let’s make one thing clear here. If a guest breaches your rules when booking and you are entitled to cancel the booking and you should always request that the guest cancels the booking, not you, just to be on the safe side. Be diligent and make sure you never get the price wrong or have a double booking. Cancellations have a negative impact on your rank (visibility) which can be catastrophic. If you have cancelled more than one booking in the past twelve months we’d recommend that you delete your listing and create a new one.

If it all sounds too hard or you’re tired of dealing with guests and want to get more bookings, why not contact us to see what we can do for you? We guarantee you’ll make more money with us or we’ll refund the difference.

Hear our CEO Craig Reid’s tips and tricks for success on the world’s #1 holiday rental podcast

Our CEO Craig Reid was featured on the number one vacation rental podcast in the world this week! (Heather Bayer’s vacation rental success podcast). He talks about the benefits of outsourcing and other holiday rental tips and tricks: https://www.cottageblogger.com/vrs245-how-to-outsource-and-other-vacation-rental-tips-with-craig-reid/

Safe Guests, Happy Host. The 7 Essential Ways to Protect Your Holiday Home from Risks.

Good news! You’ve just insured your holiday home with the best quality protection if something goes wrong. But how do you prevent things from going wrong in the first place? In the following guide, award-winning holiday home owner and Professional Holiday Homes boss Craig Reid share his seven tips to protect your holiday home from risks.

Risk #1 – The “Wrong” Guests

Getting a call from your neighbours asking why it sounds like an AC/DC concert is next door is the last thing that hosts ever want to hear. And even worse, with AC/DC comes beer, and with beer comes destruction … and before you know it you’re calling the cops and submitting a claim for accidental damage…

How to avoid it…

  • Set strict limits on the number of adults allowed in your property in each party.
  • Vet guests by asking for further details about why they wish to stay and what the ages of guests are.
  • Always charge a bond (also known as a security deposit) – this doesn’t have to be huge ($300-500 is recommended) but it is a very effective deterrent to careless guest behaviour!

Top Tip: Read the Holiday Rental Code of Conduct to understand your obligations as a host.

Risk #2 – Poor Payment Practices

Risky business isn’t just a movie with Tom Cruise in it – it’s what holiday home owners engage in when they take payments outside of online booking systems. Guests that ask if they can “pay cash” or send you a cheque should start alarm bells ringing immediately. By indulging in these payment practices owners do not have the protection of terms and conditions and also have an increased chance of being scammed.

How to avoid it…

  • Only process payments via online booking systems.
  • Don’t accept payments directly to your bank account.
  • Beware of scams (where the guest offers to pay by cheque).

Top Tip: Even online payment systems such as PayPal are not foolproof. Disgruntled or duplicitous guests can dispute transactions or initiate chargeback requests resulting in money being withdrawn from your account with no recompense!

Risk #3 – Not Communicating Rules

Whilst no guest likes to be forced into obeying a large list of draconian rules, a few simple rules can relieve host stress and reduce the risk of problems or damage occurring.
How to avoid it …

  • Stick to 5–10 memorable, simple rules – anything more will be ignored.
  • Include rules in your instructions sent to guests at time of booking.
  • Include the same rules in a prominent location in the house (such as inside the kitchen cupboard where you keep the mugs!).
  • Include your rules within terms and conditions in all of the booking platforms you use so that guests have to agree with them as a condition of booking.

Top Tip: important rules often relate to smoking, fires, property security, guest numbers and noise

Risk #4 – Getting In Safely

We all have an image in our heads of guests cheerfully arriving at our properties in sunshine filled days and throwing open the door and jumping onto soft filled beds in fits of incandescent joy. But what about those times guests arrive at night in driving rain or even snow?! Slippery, wet surfaces or even simply darkness itself can represent a risk to guests.

How to avoid it …

  • Install lights to illuminate paths, driveways and doorways that guests will need to navigate to access the property.
  • If access areas are likely to get wet, ensure that surfaces have treatments to make them slip free.
  • Always have doormats to mop up excess water from guest shoes to prevent slip hazards – especially if you have smooth flooring such as wood floors.

Top Tip: LED sensor lights are cheap to run and can be bought from a local hardware store such as Bunnings. They also make it a lot easier for guests to get keys in the lock!

Risk #5 – Not Protecting Guests

When guests enter your property, you have a duty of care to keep them safe. Not having the right equipment in place or ignoring safety regulations could quickly land you in hot water!

How to avoid it …

  • Ensure that fire precautions are in place – this includes having smoke alarms in living areas and in each bedroom.
  • Have a fire blanket and fire extinguisher readily available in the event a fire occurs.
  • Provide clear instructions and fire guards for use with any fires.
  • Any devices that could be dangerous should be clearly identified and clear instructions provided
  • Have a first aid kit available (and easy to find).

Top Tip: Have emergency contact details for fire, ambulance, police and local hospitals readily available, especially if you have international guests who don’t know to call triple zero!

Risk #6 – Little People

Little kids love holidays too, and they love nothing more than to get their sticky little fingers into places they shouldn’t! And if anyone is going to use Aunty Beryl’s priceless Dolphin Ornament to dig holes in the garden it will be them …
How to avoid it …

  • Firstly, Aunty Beryl’s ornament shouldn’t be in the house. Anything of great value (even if sentimental value) is best kept securely away from guests.
  • If you don’t want it touched, put it above shoulder height. Even little folks know how to climb on chairs.
  • Install hot water temperature limiters and circuit breakers to keep kids safe from harm.

Top Tip: anything remotely dangerous should be kept in the highest available cupboard – think matches, sharp objects or anything that could be a lethal weapon in the hands of a 5 year old!

Risk #7 – Hazards!

Arya Stark’s comment of “stick them with the pointy end” is great advice if you’re playing the game of thrones, but not so good if you’re hosting guests. Even if you think they add a certain “derelict” rustic charm, broken glass, sharp fences and rusty outdoor furnishings have no place in today’s holiday rental property. And if you have stairways where you can slide into oblivion or steps as effective as booby traps then here’s what you need to do …

  • Ensure that anything that could cause harm is clearly identified. This could include steps that are difficult to see, a narrow staircase that could cause a slip, low head heights, high drops or any kind of body of water such as ponds, rivers or pools (particularly if children are regular visitors to the property).
  • Check outdoor areas on a regular basis (particularly fences) and put in place maintenance schedules to ensure that everything is kept in risk-free condition.
  • Have a list of tradesmen that you can contact immediately in the event of an issue. Getting problems resolved quickly is critical.

Top Tip: Have your cleaners conduct safety inspections as part of every clean in order to identify hazards that need repair or replacement.

Putting in place these few simple precautions can help dramatically reduce your risks – providing you with the peace of mind that your guests are safe and happy at your holiday home.

When Appliances Go Wrong (and Right)

When Appliances Go Wrong (and right)!

I’ve had a nightmare of a week. Do you want to know why? Dishes! That’s right…dishes! Because I don’t have a working dishwasher. What a nightmare!
Imagine if this happened at your holiday home. If it did do you have an emergency response service if an appliance decides to go cactus? Think about the guest experience. If the dishwasher, fridge or air-conditioning breaks down do you have processes and systems in place to be able to respond to that quickly so that your guests don’t get upset?
But also, do you actually have a dishwasher, air-conditioning or all the facilities that guests expect these days? A holiday rental is “not just a holiday rental”, it should be of the same kind of standard that you’ve got at home.
Think about the things that are going to elevate your property a little bit above the rest. Do you have a dishwasher, an espresso coffee machine or air-conditioning in the bedroom that is going to keep them beautifully cool on those hot summer nights? Do you have Wi-Fi, DVD players or games consoles? What can you do and what can you add to get yourself a little bit ahead? These things can upgrade your property to make it just that little bit better than the competition – that could be all you need to get the booking that they don’t…

How to stop guests trashing your holiday home!

This is a classic example of not vetting guests correctly and is so easily avoidable. Now we have another instance of an article about party houses in the media because, let us face facts, articles about millions of holiday makers having a nice peaceful time over the weekend doesn’t unfortunately make the headlines. So, what can you do to prevent this?

It’s a very simple case of… are you actually allowing people who you don’t want in your house to come into your house. It’s as simple as this if you don’t want under 25’s or large groups of under 25’s coming into your property, specify it in your property descriptions and specify it in your rules so that you don’t have them inquiring in the first place.

Secondly, if you can sense that you have a larger property and it’s going to be occupied by large groups of people put extra additional steps in place such as getting photo ID and also (the biggest deterrent of all) make sure you get a massive security deposit from them. I’m talking a $1000 $2000 or even $3000. If you’ve got a multi-million dollar property and you want to protect it make sure you’re charging a significant sized bond if you’re going to be putting yourself at risk of that happening.

There are a few other things that you can put in place to prevent things like this occurring as well. There are devices out there like NoiseAware that you can install for a couple hundred dollars that will alert you in the event that something is going wrong such as a party or a disturbance.

You can also stalk your guests on Facebook or LinkedIn to get additional information about them if you think there might be a risk that they’re going to have a party in your house.

The other thing that you can do as well is making sure that you’ve got adequate insurance in place. If the worst does happen and someone does cause damage to your property it’s really important that you have a policy that covers you for accidental damage and also malicious damage. But as I always say, prevention is the best form of cure. Put steps in place where you’re not letting these kinds of people into your house.

Stayz Introduces Booking Pre-Approvals (well almost)

  This generates a screen showing a summary of the pre-approval request:     Owners can check the details are correct or if they wish to make alterations they can navigate to the previous screen to make changes. Next the owner can enter a message to the guest. This is where I got really excited…expecting to be able to populate this field automatically such as is the case with the online payment confirmation email. But alas…there was no such functionality.     But where there’s a will there’s a way, so I created a new enquiry template just for this field – that way I could simply copy and paste the text in. This would eliminate having to send a separate message to the guest.     Alas…my plans were foiled again when I pasted my beautifully crafted text into the message to guest field only to find…     A character count maximum of 500…ARGH! The other issue is that when the email is sent to the prospective guest it appears as a “Payment Request”.  This is really confusing for the guest, as they don’t understand why they’ve been sent a payment request when all they asked for was a quote to stay.  If the email said that they’d been “pre-approved to stay” it would have made more sense. So it’s a case of “close but no cigar” for Stayz on this one. We can only hope that further functionality is in the pipeline. Confused? Why not book a 15 min discovery session and we’ll help to demystify Stayz for you. Cheers, Craig Reid, CEO Profitable Holiday Homes Stayz Booking Confirmation Text is back! A few years back when Stayz introduced online payments they also added some really useful functionality within the Email templates section:     When a guest paid the online payment request the confirmation email would automatically be populated with the text from the template. This was a real improvement for owners as there was no need to generate a separate email with instructions. That was until Stayz made changes to introduce their Booking Request functionality which broke it…thereby returning us to the dark ages of having to not only approve a booking request but to navigate to our templates then generate a separate email with instructions. As an efficiency nerd I lost way too much sleep over this backward step. Having mentioned this improvement to Stayz Director James Cassidy in person a year ago I was delighted when I saw that the text is now pre-populated…only to realise that the dreaded 500 character limit is in place. Whilst I can understand the need to be succinct, 500 characters is not enough to convey check-in instructions to a guest  (even for people like me who have hyperlinks to PDFs in the cloud). So if you think you can tell your guests everything they need to know in under 500 characters, give the “Payment Received (Online Payments)” template a crack! For now I’ll still be sending them a separate email. Sigh. Need help with Stayz? Why not book a 15 min discovery session and we’ll show you how. Cheers, Craig Reid, CEO Professional Holiday Homes  ]]>

Stayz Priority Listings to End August 2017

st of the month you’ll have been shocked to see that you couldn’t purchase a priority listing for August 2017. After a swift phone call to the Stayz Sydney team we can confirm that priority listings will no longer be offered from August 2017. Yes, that’s right-this is the end of priority listings for good.     Yes it really is gone… From August onward there will also be significant changes to the way property rankings will be calculated:

  • Payment points will no longer be a part of the ranking calculation
  • Rank will be calculated based on only conversion rate and listing quality
  • Conversion rate will play the most significant part of the ranking algorithm
We estimate that if listing quality maintains the same proportion of rank boost score as it did previously (prior to scores being hidden by the new dashboard) then it will play an insignificant part of the ranking calculation. However, Stayz will be keen to promote it as an important factor in order to continue to encourage owners to improve the quality of their listings. What does seem somewhat harder to swallow for properties that historically have had extensive bookings is that a new property could quickly overtake them in the rankings with only a few bookings at a high conversion rate. It would seem somewhat harsh that Stayz’s best customers could find themselves knocked down the rankings even though they are out booking newer properties 10 or 20 times over. The Stayz staff member was unable to comment on this as they had not been provided with extensive details as to whether there was any criteria to prevent this occurring. Certainly, for a new customer, there is greater opportunity to establish a higher level of income more quickly than previously. Once the new rankings are in place it’s unlikely that rankings will move significantly if owner behaviour remains consistent. Only a radical change in behaviour is likely to result in significantly increased conversion rates. Stayz is peddling these changes as a way to improve the quality of listings displayed to guests – the theory being that higher converting properties are higher quality properties. I’m not sure this is necessarily the case. Under-priced properties also convert at high rates. One thing is for sure – the stability of income that priority listings provided is over. Owners will now face a competitive future where a poor conversion rate will see them spiral down the rankings and revenue dwindle. It’s a bold move by Stayz and suggests that they are starting to feel the pinch of Airbnb’s growing presence. Whilst this may result in a fairer system for all Stayz owners it is baffling as to why Stayz didn’t proactively notify customers of the change instead of letting them find out the hard way. If you are concerned as to how this will affect your listing? Contact us to find out how we can help you achieve conversion rates that will keep you at the top of the rankings before it’s too late…]]>

The Pros and Cons of Starting a Holiday Rental Property

Buying property for investment purposes is popular the world over. But most investors choose the option of long-term tenanted rentals rather than go down the path of owning a holiday rental property. Often they feel afraid to buy in an area that isn’t close to home and which they don’t know well. On the flip side they can have a property that they can enjoy for holidays and make great returns. Let’s look at the pros and cons in more detail…

Pros

Saving money on Holidays

Holiday homeowners can save thousands of dollars per year by using their own homes for weekends away as well as longer breaks. There is no need to pay for expensive flights as the home is likely to be within driving distance (particularly convenient if you have a young family or dog). Other than petrol costs and maybe a post-stay clean (if you don’t want to clean it yourself), there are few costs involved.

Getting away more often

Having a holiday home a few hours’ drive away means that you can hop in the car and enjoy a weekend away at the drop of a hat. What would ordinarily cost a great deal of money to rent can now be enjoyed for free (presuming your rental income covers your loan payments). Naturally, some holiday homeowners choose to buy properties far from home, but these are in the minority.

Investment (capital gains)

Holiday homes can be as good an investment in terms of capital gains as any other property. A carefully selected holiday home in the correct location can bring substantial gains over time.

Income

The biggest “pro” with a holiday home is arguably the amount of rental income that can be generated. If the property is run and marketed effectively the rental returns can be astronomical compared to a long-term rental (and you get to enjoy it yourself too!)

An Owner Says…
“On the current long-term rental market, our property would rent for $300 a week. Our rental income running it as a holiday home is more than five times that amount!”

Share with others

Not only does your level of coolness increase exponentially when you tell family and friends that you have a holiday home it’s also great to be able to share your home with them. You’ll also be surprised at how many of them are happy to pay to stay there (with a little friends’ discount of course!)

Charity

Having a holiday home also helps you do something great for the world. The majority of holiday homes have spare capacity at some stage during the year, and a great thing to do is to donate any spare capacity you may have to a charity to provide free accommodation.

“At our holiday home we have some capacity over the colder winter months so we donate this capacity to The Otis Foundation. This allows women being treated for breast cancer to stay at the house for free in order to have some time to recuperate and relax with their families after a very difficult experience.”

Cons

Groundhog Day (same place each time)

If you buy a holiday home you’d better make sure that you love the house and the area that it’s in as you’ll be spending a lot of time there! If you don’t have a passion for it or you are someone who craves constant variety of locations, a holiday home may not be right for you.
An owner says…
“We have owned our holiday home for 6 years and we’ve never lost the love for the house or location. In fact, as time has gone by we’ve become increasingly more attached to it as we make many lifelong family memories of our time spent there.”

Expense of borrowing

Unless you’re significantly financially endowed it’s likely that you may need to borrow money to buy your property. The amount you need to borrow needs to be carefully weighed up against the potential rental income or you could find yourself in financial difficulties. It’s also important to remember that holiday homes can be highly seasonal and revenue may peak in particular times of the year and be non-existent in others. However, you still have to pay for loans every month so it’s important to plan for the “peaks and troughs” of income.
An owner says…
“Our holiday home is located at the beach and as a result we make 70% of our income in the summer months. In the early days, we had to be careful to set aside some of the summer income to cover home loan payments in the quieter winter months.”

Expense of setting up

In contrast to long-term rental properties which may not require furnishing, holiday rental properties require a significant upfront investment in furnishing to ensure that an acceptable standard is created for guests. We’ll talk about what furnishings and facilities are required in Part 2 “Setting  Up Your Holiday Rental Property”.

Time taken to manage the property

Some owners can find managing their properties time consuming and stressful, particularly if they are not “internet savvy” or experienced in running a business. Finding staff to clean and maintain the property may also be seen as an onerous task.


An owner says:
“Whilst we enjoy owning a holiday home and we earn good money from it we found that we just weren’t good at marketing or managing the property. We were happy to spend a bit more money to have an agency manage it for us. Many people like to do it themselves but for our personal situation it was the right decision for us.”

Use it and lose it

The irony of owning a holiday home is that often when you want to use it most, so does everyone else! If you use the property in peak periods you may live with the “buyers remorse” of lost income or in the opposite situation if you don’t use the property when you really want to you may feel that buying it has not been worth it.


An owner says…
“We’ve become so busy that we now have to book dates out for ourselves. We’ve come to terms with the fact that we’d rather have the income from peak season than spend the time there ourselves. We’ve found a balance by staying for a couple of days a month in peak season and enjoying more time at the house during off-peak periods.”