Six expert tips for investing in vacation rental properties

Say you’ve fallen in love with a beautiful mountain destination. You’ve stayed there in different seasons, relishing the autumn colors and winter’s snow-packed slopes. You opted to stay in vacation rentals every time, taking careful note of how the owners run their business. Now you’d like to capitalize on this destination’s appeal by investing in your own vacation home. First off—congratulations. Buying a vacation rental as an investment property can reap numerous benefits that go beyond rental income.

However, before you sign that contract and lay out the welcome mat to guests, here are our tips for making the most out of your vacation rental investment.

Read on to find out more, or contact us and we'll talk you through it.

1. Acknowledge your long-term financial goals

Before you start the process of buying a vacation home as an investment, you need to define what kind of buyer you are. Do you want to generate positive cash flow as part of your investment strategy? Invest in a property you want to retire in? Or, purchase a vacation home that helps pay for itself between your own vacations there?

It’s rare, but not impossible, to find a vacation rental that can do all three. Get clear on your goals and desired outcomes upfront before starting your investment property search.


2. Research top destinations for investing in vacation rental properties

Location is one of the biggest draws for travelers. And it’s considered the million-dollar question when deciding where to invest. You can look at destinations you personally enjoy, or explore the top 25 vacation rental investment locations in the U.S. Also consider seasonality. Does a destination’s popularity rely on a certain season? Does the town go quiet off-season, exposing your vacation rental to sit empty for several months? Your property’s location can ultimately help determine your profit potential.


3. Work with a local real estate agent specializing in vacation rentals

You’re already aware that the charming, walkable streets of your favorite mountain town are a tourist draw. The local restaurants dish up local ingredients. The powder during ski season is the talk of skiers everywhere. However, you might not know that every winter, the main access road closes down for avalanche danger, blocking out any potential visitors. A smart, local real estate agent would know that.

Plus, they’ll be able to guide you through all the questions you may not consider: What are the short-term rental regulations in your target area? What are the market trends? What’s the potential for growth? Are there any new hotels and resort developments that could impact vacation rental demand? Work with the right vacation home real estate agent to determine if your target investment could generate income all year long, or if it’s a highly seasonal market.

When negotiating the sale, your negotiations can hinge on your agent’s expertise. Without helpful insights into the local vacation rental landscape, you may be offering too much or too little. Accurate estimates of the home's vacation rental investment potential are also key to making an informed offer. Explore Vacasa’s vacation home real estate services.

large vacation home in cloverdale

4. Calculate your potential vacation rental ROI

Before rushing in to purchase a new property, make sure your vacation home investment makes financial sense for your entire portfolio. Run the numbers on expenses, including insurance, taxes, capital expenditures, homeowner association fees, and more. Vacasa can give you personalized reports based on your target home's unique location and features. Plus, we can customize your reports based on upgrades and revenue levers like pet-friendliness. An in-depth report goes beyond gross income projections. Expect our in-depth reports to show monthly cash flow estimates, operating expense estimates, and net income potential.


5. Use dynamic pricing

Pricing isn’t something to take lightly. Your vacation rental rates can help determine if you hit your target profit margins. The right rate hinges on several factors, including the destination, current demand, day of the week, local events, and seasonality. If you use dynamic pricing for vacation rentals that relies on real-time data on these market conditions—like Vacasa’s system—your price will be automatically updated by the minute. No more setting one-size-fits-all rates and hoping for the best. Using data-driven tools can allow you to optimize the rate for each and every night.

Learn more about Vacasa’s dynamic pricing technology for vacation rentals >


6. Choose the right property manager for your vacation rental investment

An inexperienced property manager could break you. If you don’t want the burden of also acting as plumber, housekeeper, and troubleshooter, we suggest working with a full-service vacation rental property manager. A full-service company can handle all the hurdles and hassles of running a successful vacation rental—like marketing your home, fielding guest requests 24/7, and cleaning thoroughly after every stay. Look for a partner who won’t lock you into a long-term contract and relies on technology, not guesswork, to set your vacation rental rates.

Find out what’s included in Vacasa’s full-service vacation rental management >

Vacation rental investment FAQ

Yes, they can be—buying a vacation home as an investment has the potential to offer short- and long-term perks. A vacation rental could make you extra income and give you a dedicated place to get away with your family and friends.

Learn more >

Mountain towns often draw visitors year-round, so a cabin in a popular destination can be a solid choice for your vacation rental investment. Both lakefront and ski markets are options if you’re looking for maximum guest demand. Consult our list of the best places to buy a vacation home, which includes our top picks for cabin markets throughout the country.

Looking for more ideas and hot cabin markets near you? Check out some of our most popular cabin rentals and destinations.

Learn more about investing in a cabin >

Destinations along sunny shorelines are popular options for investing in a vacation home—and homes with direct beach access can please both you and your guests. Beach towns consistently make our annual list of the best places to buy a vacation home.

If you’re looking for ideas, Vacasa’s oceanfront vacation rentals are one place to start. Explore what locations and amenities appeal to you to help inform your search.

Learn more about investing in a beach house >

There’s no one way to decide the best location for your vacation rental investment property. One option is to consider one of the locations our experts recommend as a top vacation rental investment market.

Another option is to buy wherever you’d want to travel or retire. That way, the home is there for your own vacations—and you have the opportunity to attract potential guests who love visiting for the same reasons you do.

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If you'd like to move forward, we’ll put you in touch with our market expert in your neighborhood to explore the financial potential of your home, outline our management fee, and introduce your local team.

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Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Louisiana L.L.C. (licensed in Louisiana); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 947-800-5979; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC, P.O. Box 283, Conway NH 03818, Dave Grant, Broker of Record; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan E. Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacasa Real Estate Corporation, California DRE #02105811, Joseph Czapkowicz, California DRE #01380722; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Colorado, Daned Kirkham); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Idaho, Oregon, and Utah); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Tennessee, 615-671-9916); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 3350 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Suite 600, Lahaina, HI 96761; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Patrice Tompkins, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.

This document is for information and illustrative purposes only. It is not intended to provide “investment advice” or a “recommendation” regarding a course of action. The discussion is general in nature and has not taken into account your personal financial position or objectives. You should consult a licensed financial advisor or other professional to discuss your specific situation.

The ability to rent out a vacation rental property is subject to local market regulations and restrictions.