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The last couple of renters were happy. Thanks heavens. And did no damage. Thanks heavens twice.
However they had a bunch of "suggestions useful for your future renters" which pretty much mimicked what very helpful and friendly commenters here told me upon my initial post. So -
Get matresses not futons, repaint the deck, replace the living room sofa which is lovely but you sink into it ( this was a feature, not a bug, but if you are 70, I suppose this can be an issue), get rid of your big bookcases and your old books noone cares about, get an HD flat-screen TV and cable service I do have internet, free) , and put an unfoldable new IKEA couch instead of your unfoldable sofa from the 50s, and buy an espresso-maker and matching dishes, and get rid of family photos and questionable art by kids, and .. and .. and... including some real winners - install lighting by the waterfront deck, build a dining area or a gazebo with a view down by the water, get rid of your old canoe (but it works fine!!) and get a lighter new one, get a pedal-boat "it is just $300 used".....
AAaaaaaaaaa! People! Am I the only one to think this is all highly obnoxious??
The bottom line from my nice and not too nice renters is - go make it into a self-serve hotel. Invest 30 K at least (I counted!) and make it NICER for your tenants and remove all reminders of yourself and your family, and also have a full-time caretaker nearby to find stuff like a grill under the deck or screw in a burnt-out lightbulb or advise them on how to get a fishing license or turn the electric boat motor on because they are not technical.
I am flabbergasted. I am not willing to do ANYTHING of the kind or to invest into more than a new coffeemaker. NOT an espresso-maker!
My question is - should I even attempt another rental season, or just give up. My "vision" was - and HomeAway site kind of reinforced it, luring me in - was to rent my place entirely as is, as an old family home with old games and books and towels that are mismatched, dishes that are solid but random, no sets, with old clothes pushed far back in the closets, dry goods filling the cupboards - until I am ready to sell and clear the house of its 30-year history. My "vision" failed completely - I got plenty of tenant complaints about random stuff that is not perfect. My reply was - I TOLD YOU SO IN MY AD, and you are paying well under market value, judging on HA site alone. You are not getting a slick cottage but an oldish quirky family house. I warned you about it.
So, any advice, other than GIVE UP? Investment is out of the question. On-site management is out of the question. Total transparency - I already have it in the ad. Screening - I thought I screened well. You will not believe how much this renting business has taken out of me.
Is there another site, where people do not expect hotel amenities or perfection in their vacation rentals? I thought my renters were modest simple people, like myself. I told them all I could about the house, including the child-prooffing and watching things, potential issues with plumbing if they have too many guests, and so forth. They still complained and sugested improvements from reasonable (coffeemaker) to inane (gazebo).
I need another site. Or a valium.
I just started renting my house this past summer with a terrible property manager. I did everything your guests have suggested before ever renting the house. Its very nice, very sterile. Then after adding things like the expresso machine and playstation, I realized I needed to "Dumb it down." Bless them! 1/2 of them either couldn't work it or were set on breaking it.
My advice is don't give up. I've really enjoyed it, but it was a learning curve.
I didn't see a link to your on-line listing, but I think if you said something about it being a family home that was used during the peak season and you've opened your special piece of paridise for other Vacation Travelers to enjoy, when you can't, but that it is your 2nd home, not an investment property, so it is kept the way you and your family want it - soft sofa, family photos, and all. I'd point out that this isn't like traveling to the most modern Condo in your area, sterilized and non-personal, but more like going to friend's, Mom's or a favorite Aunt's house. Expectations may be more in line with what they will find.
I would point out the all good features, sounds waterfront, having the quaintness be another feature. I expect price wise you are much more affordable than the Modern Condo and its not a bad idea to point that out. My house sleeps a little over 22. Before people can fall over on the quote, I always point out the per person cost, is their counts was 22. depending on the time of year and lenght of booking that number could be in the teens, rarely is above the high $20's.
Stick with it, find your nitch, you'll do fine...
You might want to think about a compromise solution, not an all or nothing. EX: coffee maker instead of espresso machine, nice used craigs list couch instead of new, putting your personal food in the kitchen into one locked cabinet and having the others empty for guests, same for closets, keeping family photos either on one wall or room instead of through out the house, I think there are some ways to continue renting but make your guests feel like they are not intruding into someones personal space... we have one locked cabinet for our belongings in the kitchen, bathroom, living room closet. We also have several locked cabinets for housekeeping supplies that the housekeeper uses. We do not have an on site manager but manage long distance and the housekeeper comes inafter the guests leave. It has worked for 2 seasons well.
WELL you asked and they TOLD.
I found your comments funny. Reminded me of my first years in the rental business. Guests always had great ideas on how to run my business. They were always giving me great advise on what to do and what to add.; BUT, when it came to price, they were not willing to pay the bill for all the extras.
This is your home. Enjoy it. Offer it for rent to those who will appreciate it as much as you do. Don't ask for ideas. They come cheap from the guests since they don't need to pay for it.
As long as you advise the renters the state of your home, amenities, etc, don't worry about all the little extras.
Have a nice glass of wine!
I feel for you bud but as Marilyn said, you asked... I personally BEG for guests to tell me what I can add to make their stay (and future renters stay) more enjoyable because I have personally run out of ideas. Why are you renting your property? If it's for the money to offset costs, you are a business and customers will expect what they expect. Either give to them what they want or you will have unhappy customers and that means no repeat business or referrals in which case, why bother renting?
I know it is a financial drain to purchase all the amenities and things that renters suggest but remember, it will come back to you in future rentals and referrals. i.e. improvements will pay for themselves.
if you aren't willing to spend the money then what might help is to explain on your ads just what you put above, "This is not a modern hotel property, it is a family home and as such has mismatched dishes, antique furniture, random towels and personal effects around the house". Then post plenty of photos for them to see for themselves.
Good luck and hang in there
if it's a hobby continue if you are using this as an opportuniy to add significant income then I would compare the
competing properties. be happy that people are willing to give you suggestions they didn't have to do it. also you may want to google home staging. small things like getting rid of family photos and depersonalizing the space add a ton of value indont cost you any money.
When we were starting up over 7 years ago, I found the my guests suggestions very helpful. .I mean, how do you know if someone doesn't tell you? There are some that I've actually thought "Duh - why didn't I think of that??" I've incorporated some of the suggestions into our routine. Some I've made on my own. You just have to sort the good from the bad, do the ones you can afford and save some for later.
Just curious on the update. Are you still renting? Have you made any improvements. Are your tenants still giving you tsorris?