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What to Know Before Buying a Vacation Rental

What to Know Before Buying a Vacation Rental

On a personal and financial level, investing in a vacation rental can be rewarding. However, research is essential to finding the perfect one. Whilst buying a vacation rental can be an exciting and profitable investment, it's important to approach the process with caution and diligence. Prior to making a purchase, many factors must be taken into consideration, including the location and local regulations.

In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive guide to buying a vacation rental, covering everything from financing options to property management. Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, this guide will provide valuable insights and tips to help you make the most of your vacation rental investment.

Learn everything you need to know before you head out to buy your very own vacation rental and how to maximize its rental potential in today's blog post.

Is Owning a Vacation Rental Profitable?

Investing in a vacation rental property can be lucrative, however, it is dependent on many factors, including the location, rental demand, rental rates, property management, and maintenance costs.

Economic anxiety is indeed high at the beginning of 2023, but the latest AirDNA forecast stands positive, and the insights provided will help you plan your vacation rental strategy for 2023. The forecast's key highlights indicate that short-term rental demand is expected to grow 5.5% in 2023 despite recession fears. In addition, although vacation rental supply will increase at a slower rate than in previous years (9%), listings and competition will still increase.

The short-term rental industry is becoming increasingly competitive. According to AirDNA 54% of Airbnb's short-term rental listings came onto the market since the start of 2020 and there are plenty of new players in the market However, it is believed that in 2023 demand will continue to stay strong.

Although this industry is an excellent source of income, entering into the world of short term rentals - aspiring hosts should be aware that it is a highly competitive market and that there are more listings coming into it. In order to stay ahead of the game, they will need to provide exceptional customer service and unique, compelling rental experiences to stand out from the competition. As a property owner, you will have to continuously evaluate and improve offerings to remain competitive and have an absolutely infallible strategy in place.

Factors to Consider before Buying a Vacation Rental

If you plan to buy a vacation rental property, you need to consider several important factors. These factors can help you make a successful investment before buying a vacation rental property.


Pick a place where you want to be, as location is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a vacation rental property. Search for properties in popular vacation spots close to attractions and easy to access.

The rental income and cash flow can be strong if the destination is in high demand and commands premium rental rates. The less popular destinations, on the other hand, may have lower demand and lower rental rates, making it more difficult to generate significant rental income, however, if you plan to deliver a spectacular guest experience in a remote location there is a high probability it might work well too, as there is a considerable amount of demand for remote getaways with the rise of remote workers such as digital nomads.

Rental Potential

A vacation rental property's rental potential refers to the amount of income it can generate from short-term rental bookings. Location, size, amenities, and seasonality all influence a property's rental potential. It is imperative to conduct extensive research into occupancy rates, average rental rates, and peak seasons for the area you are selecting to determine the rental potential of the property. This enables you to estimate potential income and ensure that the investment is profitable.

A property's seasonality should also be considered when evaluating the rental potential. During peak travel periods such as summer or winter holidays, vacation rentals in seasonal destinations may have higher rental potential, while properties in year-round destinations may have more consistent rental potential.

Laws and Regulations

Understanding Laws and Regulations are critical factors to consider when buying a vacation rental property because they can significantly impact the property's profitability and legality.

Different cities, counties, and states have different vacation rental regulations, so it's crucial to understand them before buying. Vacation rentals may be required to obtain permits, licenses, or inspections in some areas, while others may prohibit them altogether. There are also other regulations to be aware of, such as zoning laws and occupancy limits, as non-compliance can result in fines, legal action, and even the property being forced to close.


Depending on the location, additional taxes, such as occupancy taxes or tourist taxes, may have to be collected and remitted to the appropriate authorities when buying a vacation rental property. It is crucial to understand the tax requirements of the area where the property is located because failure to comply with tax regulations could result in penalties and legal action.


An important consideration when buying a vacation rental property is insured. Vacation rental insurance protects the owner, guests, and the property from unexpected events.

To protect yourself from potential risks and financial losses, it is important to discuss insurance options with your insurance agent when purchasing a vacation rental property. To ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for your vacation rental property, it is also important to carefully review the insurance policy's terms and conditions and understand what is covered and excluded.

__Pro Tip:__    

Purchase adequate insurance coverage to protect your investment, including liability insurance and property insurance.

Incorporate Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs can also impact the profitability of a vacation rental. Vacation rentals require ongoing maintenance and upkeep to ensure they remain attractive to guests, and these costs can add up over time.

You need to consider maintenance costs when calculating the expected return on investment (ROI) of the property because they can otherwise eat into the rental income. There may be a strain on your budget when unexpected maintenance issues arise so investing in regular maintenance can prevent costly repairs from occurring in the future. This also contributes to maximizing guest satisfaction, since It can lead to negative reviews and fewer bookings if the property needs to be well-maintained and clean.

Incorporating maintenance costs into the investment plan can maximize profitability, prevent unexpected repairs, extend the life of the property, and ensure guest satisfaction.

Financing your Purchase

You will need to decide how you will finance the property, including how much down payment you can afford and whether you need a mortgage to invest. There are several ways to finance the purchase of a vacation rental, including traditional mortgages, home equity loans, or cash.

Traditional Mortgages

Traditional mortgages involve paying a down payment and borrowing the rest of the purchase price from a lender. Vacation rental properties require additional documentation and certain requirements to qualify for a mortgage.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan can be used to finance the purchase of a vacation rental. With a home equity loan, the lender uses the equity in the buyer's primary residence to provide funding. This option offers higher flexibility and lower interest rates than traditional mortgages.

Cash Purchases

The option of purchasing a vacation rental property outright eliminates the need for a mortgage, but it requires a significant amount of cash upfront.

Private Financing

As an alternative to traditional mortgages, private financing is financed by private lenders or investors. A private loan may provide more flexible terms and be easier to obtain than a traditional mortgage, but it is also riskier and more expensive.

Calculate costs and ROI

Once you have identified a property in a location that has enough vacation rental demand and all of the above points are covered, the next step is to work out the potential return on investment and identify potential costs.

Before you buy a vacation home, make sure you estimate your costs and work out your potential revenue in advance. Then, you can calculate how much income you need to generate each month in order to cover your costs as well as what you need to make to earn a tidy profit. By doing this, you will be able to eliminate properties that aren't worth investing in.

Property Management

Decide whether you want to manage the property yourself or hire a property management company to handle bookings, maintenance, and other tasks. This decision will influence the amount of time and effort required to manage the property. It can be extremely costly to manage vacation rentals, particularly if you want to hire a property management company to handle bookings, guest communication, and maintenance. Managing the property yourself may save money on management fees, but it will require commitment, time, and effort.

How to Set Up Your Vacation Rental for Long-Term Success

Once you have purchased your vacation rental, here are a few pointers to set you up for long-term success.

Advertise your Property on Multiple Platforms

Listing your vacation rental on multiple booking sites will increase your exposure, thus increasing your occupancy rate and potential income. Make sure you list your property on multiple platforms to avoid placing all your eggs in one basket. Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Hopper, and Google Vacation Rentals are some of the key platforms to consider.

Use a Dynamic Pricing Tool

When you use dynamic pricing, you can rest assured that your property listing's price changes in response to market fluctuations in real-time. You will be able to adjust your rates for maximum revenue even if the slightest change occurs in demand, supply, or events in the area.

There are several dynamic pricing tools available and among the most popular tools are those that offer integrations with vacation rental software solutions such as Wheelhouse, Pricelabs, Beyond, Nightpricer, Beyond as well as DPGO all of which integrate with Hostaway.

Invest in Vacation Rental Marketing

If you want your vacation rental business to succeed, you'll need to do additional marketing, even if you use a multi-channel listing strategy. By using social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Linkedin, you can reach out to your target audience.

Additionally, you can reach out to lifestyle bloggers and influencers by allowing them to stay at your property for free. They will be able to share your property on social media and create content for their followers.

Build a Vacation Rental Team

Building a vacation rental team is essential for long-term success because it allows you to delegate responsibilities and provide excellent service to your guests.

It is recommended that you outsource your vacation rental cleaning to a team of cleaning professionals who are knowledgeable about hygiene standards.

In essence, invest in building your vacation rental team. This network of professionals can also be utilized to assist you in general maintenance and repairs.

As a general rule, this type of work requires specialized knowledge and skills that you will not possess. Despite the fact that you may feel comfortable performing these tasks, you may not be able to do them in some instances.

Create a Direct Booking Website

You can create and build a direct booking website for your business. Having your direct booking website allows guests to access your property directly, even if you are still listed on multiple platforms. This is because direct bookings allow travelers to receive a more personalized experience. In addition, you can keep a personal touch on your business website by including links to your social media channels.

Invest in vacation rental software

The purpose of vacation rental software is to make it easier for hosts and property managers to manage their vacation rentals. Hostaway is an excellent property management software that supports automation, adjusts availability, automates guest messaging and task management, and is packed with features that every property manager needs.

No matter how many properties you own or how many you manage, vacation rental software helps you to save time, money, and energy, which in turn helps you reach your business goals.

Some of the key features you stand to gain are,

  • An interface that allows you to manage multiple listings on multiple vacation rental platforms through a single dashboard
  • The multi-calendar feature eliminates the risk of a double booking by synchronizing reservations across multiple platforms
  • Automated messages improve guest communication
  • A unified inbox to organize your messages in one place
  • Functionality to create invoices and receive payouts
  • Automating the process of guest review send-outs
  • Create and manage your direct booking website
  • Streamline your guest communication
  • Create business analytics and informative reports to help you improve your business.

In Conclusion

Investment in a vacation rental can be profitable, but it is important to carefully consider its costs and income before making a decision. Vacation rental owners can increase their chances of success and profitability by researching the local market, understanding the expenses involved, and developing a solid business plan.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!