©iStockphoto.com/Ryan Tacay Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/Ryan Tacay
Summer is just around the corner, and cottage country is springing to life with property owners opening up their summer homes for the season. While most cottage-owners view their summer properties as their weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, they can also serve as fantastic investment opportunities.
Tara Billington, a sales representative for Harvey Kalles Real Estate's Muskoka Getaway Team, sells some of the most breathtaking summer properties in Ontario’s exclusive cottage region of Muskoka and has assisted many clients in transitioning their properties into rentals. Before you pass your keys over to any new tenants, read on for some of her tips on what every homeowner should check off of his or her list before renting out their cottage.
1. De-clutter and organize
Before you do anything, ensure that your cottage is rental-ready by cleaning every nook and cranny, and clearing the space of any clutter.
"That also means taking down all of the wonderful pictures of your family and removing any personal items," advises Billington. "Guests don’t want to feel as though they’re encroaching on someone else’s home."
Closets and drawers should also be emptied to make room for your guests' belongings. However, Billington suggests using a locked closet to store any personal items or valuables that you want to keep at the property.
2. Take care of safety regulations
You never know who your renters are going to be or whether there will be any accessibility issues, so make sure that your property is up to code.
"Take time to examine the area to ensure that it’s safe for young children and elderly people," says Billington. "Check that exterior railings, deck boards and stairs are all in good condition."
Property owners will also want to get in touch with their insurance provider to see if they have appropriate coverage in the case of an accident.
3. Create a website
When you’ve completed all of the precautionary steps to renting out your cottage, the next step is creating a website with well-lit, staged photos.
"Include plenty of photos – all bedrooms, bathrooms, living spaces, decks, grounds around the property and the shoreline," suggests Billington. "This will give the occupant a clear picture of what to expect, with no surprises."
To amp up the appeal, include a list of attractions in the area, such as golf courses, nearby towns and local restaurants. You’ll also want to leave a contact number on the website, but avoid posting your cottage’s address, urges Billington.
4. Establish costs
Figuring out how much to charge renters can be tough, especially when you’re trying to ensure that you make a profit on your investment.
"You’ll want to research similar properties in the area (either online or in the local paper) and offer a comparable price," advises Billington. "Your insurance company will also help you establish an amount for a deposit in case of damages."
5. Meet your renters
Although you’ve set up the space to be a rental property, you still want to attract respectful renters who will treat your cottage like their own home.
"Make sure you meet the renters and go over any rules you have for the property, having them sign a contract to ensure they understand the fees, terms and conditions," says Billington.
She also recommends viewing this exchange as a long-term investment. You’ll want to ensure that you’ve covered all of the bases to encourage repeat renters for the years to come.
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