6 tips for renting your condo

Savannah Vasquez

Thinking about going into the condo rental business? Does the thought of owning beachside property and making money by renting it out sound too good to be true?

The Log spoke with both a local condo owner and management company to help you get to the bottom of these questions to see if there are any nitty-gritty secrets or helpful tips that you should know before taking the condo rental leap.

We spoke with vacation rental and property management company representative Dale Peterson, owner of Dale E. Peterson Vacations in Destin, and private owner, certified accountant and 13-year Okaloosa Island condo owner Cindy Day of Fort Walton Beach.

What is one thing you wish you’d known before renting out your condo?

Peterson: A lot of the owners that use our company tell me that they didn’t realize how management-intense the business is. A lot of people do VRBO (vacation rental by owner), and what they find out is they didn’t know this is a real job and it is a real job.

Day: I guess one thing would be the amount of time that it takes to have a successful rental.

What is the best feedback you’ve received from patrons?

Peterson: One of the things that I like to hear is how clean the unit is to be honest. If there’s a couch that is old and when you sit in it you roll to the middle, you’re going to hear those types of complaints.

Day: They appreciate the personal check-in and the cleanliness of the condo. I get that with almost every guest. They also enjoy the information about the area that I provide in the condo.

What do you do when items go missing?

Peterson: A number of management companies offer insurance for those kind of things. Mostly it’s if you break something. If guests will tell us that instead of trying to hide it, there are insurance for that. It’s very difficult for an absentee owner to find that stuff and know when it happened.

Day: I call my guests. I have that rapport with each of my guests because I have gotten to know them and I feel like I can ask them and often they accidentally took it with them or they broke it, and in that case I take it out of their deposit, but I always let them know.

What makes a condo more inviting?

Peterson: I think that a very full and well-equipped kitchen is a good thing and always your cleanliness is important. But it goes right down to the quality of your towels, kitchen items; all of those things add up. Also try to post as many pictures that are true and give an honest opinion of your property because if your customers are happy I like to say, "Repeat business is the best business."

Day: The homey feel I always say. The view, the cleanliness, the homeliness of it. My hope is to provide the comforts of home with a beautiful view.

How accessible should owners be?

Peterson: That goes back to the management company. The management company should be available 24 hours a day. You need somebody that is ready to respond. It’s hard when you are trying to manage something on a VRBO and you live in Atlanta, you need someone with boots on the ground to oversee it.

Day: I personally feel you need to be very accessible if you want to have a successful business with repeat customers. At least 50 percent of your guests are going to be repeat customers.

Final words of wisdom?

Peterson: Go to a professional management company. They are familiar with marketing, they’ve been in the business for a long time and they are great at overseeing their guests. In most cases management companies are very thoughtful regarding the number of people in your property. They also have professional cleaners that will abide by health department rules and will make sure you are getting good accounting and the maintenance that you need. A professional management company will make sure that you are maximizing your value.

Day: It’s a full-time job, especially in the summer. And then in the off season you spend a whole lot of time marketing it. It just depends on how hands-on the owners want to be. I feel the more hands-on you are, the better renters are going to leave your condo. It depends on what people want, but I want to be hands on and give personal attention to each guest.