With ambiguity still flooding the travel industry and people taking a break from vacationing, you may be pondering your current vacation property investment. COVID-19 has put a hold on many things, and vacation rentals have been no exception. People are concerned with their health and safety, as they should be, and are staying home due to the CDCs shelter-in-place order. While some cities and states currently have no end in sight for the stay-at-home order to lift, other cities are slowly lifting the order and installing regulations to ensure that safety is not compromised. 

This time has not been favorable with those who have invested in real estate and vacation rental properties, but there could be a rise in the number and frequency of vacations as the summer draws to an end and fall begins. The future still remains uncertain, however, and while we can remain hopeful and prepared, there is also much dignity in ebbing and flowing with the current situation. 

To speak with a representative about applying for a non-recourse loan so you can dip your toes in the waters of property investing, then contact First Western Federal Savings Bank today. A vacation rental is an exciting prospect, and a great opportunity to make your financial goals become a reality. Let us assist you in the process of acquiring your own vacation rental today! 

Vacation Rental By Owner

Those who are interested in investing in vacation rental properties will find comfort in knowing that they can rent out several types of properties, like houses, apartments, condos, villas, and more. Platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo allow you to advertise property listings to renters in an organized and targeted fashion. While vacation rentals are experiencing a downturn in popularity, they will always appeal to a very large audience. Travel is down, there is no denying that, but vacation rentals remain a great opportunity to get people comfortable with traveling again, as they are a great alternative to motels, hotels, and other lodging options that require large numbers of people to be together in close quarters. 

Vrbo and Airbnb have readjusted their cleaning regulations as well as their cancelation policies to help both investors and travelers mitigate the financial loss associated with COVID-19. Vrbo released a statement at the end of May that stated they were to roll out a policy to help protect travelers, property owners, property managers, and the public. The policy includes flexible credits, refunding, and more. 

Airbnb

Since its debut in 2008, Airbnb has exploded in popularity, becoming a household name and easily one of the most popular platforms for families and renters to scroll through when they have a vacation in mind. The platform has an extensive host network that offers millions of listings in over 191 countries. Anyone can be an Airbnb host and rent out spaces as big as the entire house or as small as a shared room. Further, the platform allows renters to have unique experience in creative rooms. For example, there is an Airbnb made entirely out of LEGO, giving renters a taste of what it would be like to live in a LEGO world. 

The active review culture on Airbnb allows guests to leave their thoughts about the stay, ranking their experiences, and providing descriptions about the cleanliness, comfortability, and more. Further, the platform has a feature that allows renters to discover activities near their chosen destination.

Vrbo

Anyone can post a listing on Vrbo, like houses, apartments, castles, treehouses, villas, yurts, and more. However, unlike its popular vacation rental counterpart, Vrbo requires you to rent the entire home, which means that there are usually fewer listings than what you would find on Airbnb. These larger spaces, however, can be very attractive for those who are bringing larger parties of people or their families along with them. The most attractive point, in this case, is that you don’t have to share the property with the owner or someone else who may also be using the rental — in other words, it’s all there for you to enjoy. 

This is ideal for both property investors as well as travelers because it minimizes the risk of spreading the virus. Investors who have listings on Vrbo will be able to leverage this attractive feature of privacy to travelers, as people who are traveling will likely want to do as much as they can to not put themselves in harms’ way. Travelers will prefer the distance and the privacy from other people, especially large groups of people, and that is exactly what listings on Vrbo can offer them. 

Changes from the Virus

Booking any short-term rentals on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other platforms used to be quick and easy, but coronavirus has made the vacation rental process a bit of a headache for owners and renters alike. The wave of cancelations has been a focal issue for travelers seeking refunds, and hosts denying them, wanting to conserve money as much as they can because of the uncertain future and lasting effects.

To counteract the changes, platforms are readjusting their cancellation policies and strongly encouraging owners to comply with cancellations to help uphold public health. Some short-term rentals have even been banned in some locations to help continue to fight the coronavirus transmission. Some policies will provide some guidance for traveler-host cancellations, but some policies are just acting as a form of patchwork while larger issues are dealt with and a more solid form of action can be created to move forward. 

This pandemic has brought many changes in the vacation rental industry to light, like a new meaning of maintaining cleanliness in rentals, ensuring that properties have been efficiently and fully cleaned between guests, more polished and flexible cancellation policies, and preferred pricing. Post-pandemic life, however, could continue to bring an unprecedented rise in vacation rentals, with reservations looking stronger in the fall and winter months than they did last year. 

A Change In Short Term Rentals

Currently, vacation rental owners are experiencing a decrease in widespread travel and nonessential business restrictions. The number of short-term rental bookings made in March and April were down about 50% from previous months, and about 85% of existing bookings for the same period were cancelled. The number of short-term rental units available for rent in the United States and Canada hasn’t changed since immediately before the crises. 

Short-term rental hosts may be suffering now and blocking off their calendars to comply with local stay-at-home orders, but many owners aren’t simply throwing in their towels and removing their listings. 

Alison Kwong, a spokesperson for Vrbo, has said that beginning in mid-April, the platform began to see and increase in U.S. demand for longer trips at the end of the summer. While the CDC encourages travelers to stay home as much as possible while the shelter-in-place order continues, vacation rentals are establishing cleanliness guidelines that may be helping travelers feel safer as they book short-term rentals. 

People, perhaps because of the social restrictions from the pandemic, are increasing their average length of stay. Where the length of stay used to be anywhere from three to four days is climbing from anywhere between eight days to two weeks. In addition to the length of stay, the locations of short-term rentals are also changing. People are turning away from rentals in crowded urban areas, respectively, and turning towards rural areas. If you have, or are interested in having, vacation rental property in urban areas, you may be seeing this move yourself, or it’s something you may need to start expecting. 

This may not have to be a bad thing, as it invites hosts to partake in offering more flexible perks to entice people, but it could also mean that hosts need to lower the price of nightly stays to encourage travelers. One of the best things to do in either case is to initiate conversations, no matter if you’re the host or the traveler, and see what kind of deals you can strike and how you can find ways to make your stay more comfortable during this time. 

Making Sure Property Is Clean

Cleanliness has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds and has especially been the top concern for travelers who want to explore but don’t want to get sick while doing so. Vrbo has recommended that landlords allow for a 24-hour buffer between guests, and Airbnb recommends a CDC compliant cleaning protocol, asking landlords to agree to a minimum 24-hour buffer after a guest checks out. If there are hosts that cannot commit to the cleaning protocol, they can opt for a 72-hour booking buffer between stays. 

If you begin renting out your property again to travelers, there is still a general risk of being exposed to the virus, but there are steps you can take to ensure that your rental is safe for guests to stay at. Start by wiping down the keys, and then consider these other key areas:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Beds
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Communal areas, like living rooms

Shared Areas and Appliances

There are some cleaning products that are more effective in cleaning the viral particles of coronavirus, but be sure you are using them safely. Use these products on areas that are high-touch surfaces, like tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, remote controls, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks. Things like cups, plates, and silverware should be washed thoroughly with hot water and dish soap, as well as dried thoroughly before being used again. 

Sheets and linens are a low risk to renters if they are clean. Really, the only way for them to be a point of risk is unless the person making the bed sneezed or coughed on the sheets. You can talk to renters and ask them to make the bed themselves if you so choose. 

Common areas, especially if areas that attract large numbers of people, may be closed as a way to enforce social distancing. Before listing common areas in your vacation rental listing, make sure that they are open to renters. And if you are the travelers, then be sure to communicate with the owners so when you get to the vacation rental, you aren’t there with nothing to do. 

What To Do While You’re There

If you want to make your listing appeal to travelers who are still cautious about going out and staying in vacation rentals, then come up with a list of things to do or places that are open. Gathering in large groups of people is likely still frowned upon, and likely banned in most places, so give travelers some things to do that allow them to have their space and privacy while also enjoying the location they are in. Provide some hiking trails, lakes, or other outdoor recreational opportunities that they may be interested in. Further, do some research on what restaurants are open to the public (with the requirement of a mask, that is) and restaurants that are offering take-out and delivery services. 

Contact FWFSB If You’re Interested In Owning

If you are considering owning a vacation rental property, then you’ll want our team of non-recourse loan lenders on your side! There are plenty of benefits to doing so, like added income, asset diversification, and future security, but you need to have the right property in mind. Remember that the requirements for vacation rental property include:

  • It must have a minimum value of $80,000
  • It needs to be for investment purposes only, so you can’t live on the property yourself
  • It must be in the bounds of the United States
  • It must have been built after 1940
  • You need to be able to put down at least 40% or 50% in order to qualify for the loan
  • Cash flow is critical in order for it to be a good investment

A vacation rental is an exciting prospect, but in this time of uncertainty, it is an investment that you need to critically consider. If you are interested, then let First Western Federal Savings Bank help — it could be an incredible opportunity to make your financial goals a reality. For more information for how you could benefit, contact our non-recourse loan lenders today and let our team assist you in the process of acquiring your own vacation rental.