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Christine's Vacation Rental Insights

4 Posts tagged with the weather tag
3

Hi everyone,

 

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Hope you are all going well. Last week Punxsutawney Phil predicted that spring will come early this year. Living in the South for the last 20 years of my life, I have never given much thought to any silly groundhog predictions however this year, more than ever, I really hope he’s right!  I am so done with cold weather (yes even here in Texas). 

 

And my vacation rentals have suffered too!  Last month I had to pretty much close down my cabins in Tennessee because the roads were not passable. Then bookings that I had pretty much closed ended up not booking because their kids will not have a Spring Break this year because they had too many snow days. 

 

The only positive about all this cold weather is I do believe cabin fever has set in throughout the country. People who have been cooped up in their homes under many inches if not many feet of snow are dreaming about their summer vacations. And that has translated into summer bookings for me!

 

So let’s hope the snow stops and Spring comes early so we can all get our vacation homes booked!

 

Happy Renting,

 

Christine

0

Down a Slippery Road

Posted by christinekarpinski Jan 19, 2011

Hi everyone,

 

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The Gulf Coast Claims Facility came out with definitions for the final claims process for anyone affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (also known as the BP oil spill). While going through the various options for claims, I came to the conclusion that since I am a multiple property owner, it is probably best if I retain an attorney. 

 

As you can imagine, there are hundreds of attorneys who are litigating these cases. Thankfully I didn’t have to search too far for an attorney I trust; I went with Buzbee Law firm, the same firm that has been contributing information to HomeAway's oil spill response site

 

With my other than Gulf Coast rentals, life has been nuts. The snow on the East Coast has made renting cabins in the Smokey Mountains all but impossible. I had a guest who waivered on whether or not to rent. I told her it’s highly unlikely that she will be able to get into our cabins (I basically refused to rent it). 

 

The night before the renter was scheduled to arrive she called me and said she was coming—go ahead and charge her credit card. I told her that housekeeper said the roads were only okay during the day; After dark everything turns to ice.  So the deal was I would rent but only if she would arrive during the day. But if she arrived at night, all bets were off; I could not guarantee that she would be able to access my cabin. 

 

I got a call the next evening and guess what? They didn’t make it there during daylight. Sure enough, the roads were all icy.  At that point, there was not much I could do. I told her I could help her find a hotel or if she was feeling adventurous, she could walk up the road to my cabin. She didn’t like either of those options. She said she would call me back. About an hour later I got a call from her saying she was in the cabin. I asked her if she walked and she said no, they went to the store and bought 20 bags of salt and salted the road! The salt on the road coupled with the extra weight of the unused bags in her car and she made it up the mountain. 

 

This is NOT how I like to run my vacation rental business! I should have stuck to my “no” but in the end the guests really enjoyed the cabin and their time there. I, of course, refunded her the money she spent on salt as well as some extra for her trouble. 

 

Christine

0

The Long Road Home

Posted by christinekarpinski Jan 10, 2011

Happy New Year! I hophttp://www.homeaway.com/webdav/site/ha/shared/OC%20Images/Blog/ckhouse.bmpe you all had a wonderful holiday.

 

My holidays were a bit crazy with all the snowfall throughout the  country. I had some major issues with snow on the roads near my Smokey  Mountain cabins. There was so much snow that my guests leaving couldn’t  get down the mountain, my housekeepers couldn’t get up nor could my  arriving guests. I had to order snow removal services and salt truck! My  neighbor’s guests got impatient waiting for the plows to come and  attempted to go down the mountain. Their car slid and thankfully a tree  stopped their car from ending up in my cabin (see the photo). I had to  help them find a tow truck because I didn’t want anyone checking into  that cabin with a vehicle teetering over the top of the cabin. I was  literally on the phone all day long but in the end, it all got worked  out.

 

So far 2011 has started off with a nice trajectory for inquiries and  bookings. To me it seems like there are a fair amount of window shoppers  out there but I am confident they will end up booking. I chuckle as I  think back 10 years; if I hadn’t been well booked up by the second week  of January, then I would have been really nervous. But things have  changed significantly over the past 10 years. People are booking closer  and closer to their vacation dates. I have confidence that the bookings  will come.

 

Wishing you many bookings in 2011!

 

Christine

0
Hi Everyone!

How’s it going? Things for me are back to the usual—another situation has arisen which gives me yet more fodder for my blog posts.

Since my cabins are on wells, the drought has affected my rentals. Currently my wells are down around 16-18 feet! While I have not run out of water, thankfully, many people in the area have! Basically it has affected the quality of my water—it stinks like rotten eggs! And my renters are not too happy about that!

If you are in an area where you’ve been plagued by the drought (here’s a national drought monitor website http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html), there are some things that you could/should do to avoid complaints or worse yet, have people leave and demand their money back—yep that’s happened to me!

So the best way I can advise you is give you examples of what I have done to divert the complaints.

1. Sometimes when the water levels get low, bacteria could be introduced in your well. Have your water tested by your local health department--mine cost $50 and took about 2 weeks from application to test results.

2. Convert to charcoal water filters and change them frequently! I’m changing mine every two weeks as opposed to my regular monthly schedule.

3. Inform all renters (upon booking) that there is a drought—(and if your water stinks, like mine, tell them! It’s better to lose a reservation at the booking stage, rather than once they are already in your home. Keeping to my motto: I never want anyone in my house who doesn’t not want to be there; how will they treat my home? ) Here’s how a typical conversation with a renter goes, “I have to tell you that we’re experiencing a drought and it’s caused our well to be significantly lower. We’ve had the water tested by the health department, and it’s fine but there is a sulfur smell. Sulfur is a mineral which you find in hot springs that emits that smell…”

4. On your rental contract, attach wording about the water. I have chosen the short and sweet version just so it’s in writing. Here’s the wording I have used: WATER AND SEPTIC: These cabins are on wells and septic systems. The mineral content in the water is high. During a drought, the well water may have an odor.
5. On your directions, attach a reminder about the water situation. Here’s what I have added: I also wanted to let you know that there is a severe drought in the area. If you smoke please do so outside (this is a non-smoking cabin.) Please make sure that you extinguish your cigarettes completely and do not throw your cigarette buts outside in the woods as they may cause a forest fire. We are under extreme high burn warnings in the area. The drought has also caused the well water to have a sulfur smell. Our well has been thus far ok though we always ask that you please conserve water, and is safe to drink (we have a recent health department test report, which we can send you if you’d like to see it.) The sulfur smell is sometimes tough to get passed your nose, for this reason, we recommend bringing bottled drinking water.
So there you have it, yet another way you can learn from my personal vacation rental problems. So glad I can be of service. LOL !

Happy Renting by Owner!

Christine Karpinski