Your Guide To Renting Out A Lake Home

The lake house is a sought after retreat.

If you live next to a body of water, of any size, the enjoyment factor increases tenfold over the summer. In the great state of Minnesota, we are surrounded by lakes, and this draws people from all over.

This has an added benefit for the homeowner.

Much more lucrative than a timeshare, and less cause for alarm, renting out your lake home can be a great way to earn a little extra money and get a vacation away.

The best part is, that snowmobilers or ice fishers will help you snowbird in the winter, and tourists looking to cool down away from the city can be of aid in the summer.

So, if you’re just starting to think about becoming a host, start here and follow these steps to give yourself the best chance of success.

This is the Jack Chivers Realty Guide to Hosting Your Lake Home

Before You Even Decide to Rent Out:

There’s a lot to consider before letting a possible stranger stay in your vacant home.

Planning is the first step, after acceptance that someone else will be in your home. This requires a little understanding of the the market.

Understand Rental Arbitrage

The short term rental market is ruled by a guideline called rental arbitrage. This means that anyone can profit off the short term rental market, more or less, depending on how they choose to rent out the home.

For instance, Airbnb is a popular option, as well as VRBO. The way you go about this is up to you, but there are many things to consider along the way.

Second, every host should know what it means to quickly assess to what degree your home is suited to be rented out. This could involve many other parties and more commitment that you expected. Yes, we all want to make some money doing this but there are more than financial benefits and burdens to becoming a host.

There are three main types of hosts out there–those that want to make a few extra bucks with their available space, those who want a stable secondary source of income, and those who want to build a serious business that will eventually become their main source of income. But who wants to leave the lake area that much?

All kinds of folks!

If you’re trying to spend summers in the great white north, it’s not going to be easy to rent out your lake place frequently.

The more income you’re looking to get out of the deal, then the further you’ll need to plan and invest. First, you want to be able to provide details about the location, size, and nature of your listings as well as the tools and strategies you will be using. If you want lake time in the summer and to rent out in the winter, you have to make connections with the right crowds.

Have A Realistic Expectation About Time Commitment

Although you can stipulate the degree to which guests need to clean before vacating, you’ll still want to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. But this means cleaning and making things orderly before and after the rental period.

If only we could just list the unit and then the money starts to come in.

It takes time to chat with potential guests who ask questions before they’re willing to book too. Earning great reviews on rental sites makes for a more trustworthy experience. A cozy house means better reviews!

Consider the time it will take to check guests in and check guests out.

Set the right expectations about time commitment by evaluating how much time it’ll likely take for you to host on Airbnb, VRBO or others.

Starting out and doing everything on their own, beginner hosts are often shocked by the amount of time and effort needed to consistently deliver an experience for their guests.

Once the renter gets the hang of it, get in a groove, become more efficient, and utilize tools for automation, it’s clear that there are ways to save time and energy without lowering the quality of service. Picture yourself hosting with ease and able to vacation, headache free.

Some lakes are less desirable than others, so planning out what kind of demand you'll have is important. If you're a full-time resident and have been for years, perhaps you have an idea of just how in-demand the area is for renters.

On the flip side, you might be happy with only renting out a few weekends to simply enjoy the remaining days of Summer.

Go get a market report from a trusted data provider. This can give you an idea of what to expect.

What About Insurance Coverage

If you’re renting out your own home, your standard home insurance plan is almost guaranteed not to cover any damage that results from short-term renting. However, Airbnb’s policy does have a $1M guarantee gives great comfort but if you have some special items or risk factors not covered by their policy, you likely need additional insurance.

This does remind us that belongings in the home should be removed if they are at risk of being damaged or stolen.

Of course, it shouldn't look like a ghost town, but it's helpful, and comforting for guests to remove clutter. This makes for an easy remedy for keeping track of what's in the home too.

Remember Your Neighbors

Are you in a quiet gated community with early to bed neighbors who are very very sensitive to noise or outsiders?

Sound can sure travel on lake.

In this way it is good to consider how renting out will affect relations with your neighbors. Noise complaints are the biggest indicator for unhappy neighbors. Check out a nifty product that can help you prevent and manage noise issues with guests.

Get all the Essentials for Your Listing

As more and more hosts bring listings onto the market to compete for the guests, so too have guest expectations grown. What used to be a nice-to-haves are now must-haves. Certain amenities are absolutely essential to delivering great experiences. This can be difficult in some lake areas, as things like Wi-fi, even cell phone service, are sparse at times.

Still, furnishings and amenities could make a big difference. Every lake place must have furniture. You must consider what pieces are important to your guests? What need is it fulfilling?

Here's the checklist for getting your lake place rental spotted:

  • Accurate title and description

  • take proper photos that display the area in size and furnishing

  • Get reviews on rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO

  • Make sure that you communicate who you are and what you expect of renters.

  • Tell guests what to expect on the lake and how to be prepared

Anticipate and Address Guest Headaches

Your guests have traveled far to stay at your lake place and that can be stressful. Flights can get delayed. Keys can get lost.

So being thoughtful and proactive towards some of these most common guest headaches could go a long way towards turning potentially stressful situations into moments where you shine as a host.

Having a simple lockbox to keep a spare set of keys that you could send the combination for a guest to open late at night will not only make them happy but would save you time when some of your guests are bound to get locked out late at night.

Hopefully this has been a helpful reminder of what it takes to rent out your lake home. As we wait to unthaw and anticipate Summer, these are the sorts of things we are able to consider. Thanks for reading the JCR Blog.

Dirk Ockhardt