Renting your home in a ski town can be rough waters. Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty’s Leasing Division has some advice to help you find your way.
Beyonce made headlines last winter when she used Airbnb to rent a $10,000/night luxury home in Altos Hills, California during the Super Bowl. The news wasn’t so much about the price she paid or how grandiose the property was: The story was an indication that the luxury home rental market is bigger than ever and even celebrities are entrusting online booking sites like Airbnb to book these extravagant properties.
In Steamboat, the luxury vacation rental market is hotter than ever. “Steamboat was at full capacity a few times this summer. These are some of the highest numbers we’ve ever had in terms of vacation rentals,” says Kristi Hoffman of SSIR’s Leasing Division. Not only does the rental market increase the value for real estate, it’s also a feeder market for buyers who want to test out specific locations or property types before buying.
This is all good news, but with the increased demand comes increased risk. Property owners need to be well educated about all the responsibilities that come with renting in order to protect themselves and their property. We sat down with Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty’s own Leasing Division gurus Kristi Hoffman and Dunte Valrey to find out what every property owner needs to know before uttering the words “for rent,” especially if you are considering posting your home online.
1) Make sure your tenants are well vetted.
There is more liability in renting your property than people realize, and a lot of online vacation rental services like Airbnb and VRBO don’t protect owners as well as you might think. A recent article in Vanity Fair exposes the ugly side of using an online vacation rental site.
Vetting potential tenants requires a lot more than a verified email account and phone number, which is all that is required of most of the online sites. “We do three different background checks on all of our tenants,” Kristi says. “We’re meeting everyone in person and talking to them face to face.” It’s also important to have a personal contact if something does go wrong, and companies like Airbnb have grown so big that just getting someone on the phone can be a challenge.
2) Know the market when you decide how much to charge for rent.
The Steamboat rental market is so fluid that there are no “comps” to determine how much to charge for rent in terms of basic square footage or number of bedrooms.
Factors like location, finishes, amenities and property type come into play. “We often surprise owners for what they can get in rent for their properties,” Kristi says. “Right now, the rental market is awesome for property owners. You can’t just look in the paper to figure out how much to charge in rent. There’s so much more to it than that.”
3) Make sure your lease is iron clad.
A well-written lease is one of the most important ways for a homeowner to be protected against liability, yet many people will download a basic lease off the Internet. “There are a lot of random laws specific to Colorado, like marijuana being legalized, for example,” Kristi says. “Property owners probably don’t want tenants growing six pot plants on their property, even though it is not illegal to do so.” There are other local and state laws to also consider, so having a lease that is at least reviewed by a lawyer is key. “Our lease is iron-clad,” Kristi says. “It was just rewritten to take into account some of these new laws.”
4) Compile a list of service providers (electricians, plumbers, etc.) you can trust.
A lot of homeowners who live far away don’t realize how important it is to have a list of vendors and contractors they can rely on. “We have cultivated a list of vetted vendors and contractors we really trust. Having those connections, especially in a resort town where contactors are often hard to get a hold of is key,” Kristi says.
5) Hire a local property manager in case something goes wrong.
Even luxury properties aren’t immune to the occasional water leak, power outage or other issues that need to be dealt with in person. When it comes to taking care of your property and your tenants, it’s ideal to have someone to take the calls and meet the clients’ demands with a level of professional and personal service that can’t be found on the Internet, or trying to manage a property from afar. That is where the personal service comes in,” Kristi says. “There is no one better than Dunte. He goes above and beyond to make sure our clients, and their properties, are well taken care of.”
CLICK HERE to check out Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty’s leasing portfolio.