When and how to sell your vacation rental property

5 expert tips for selling your vacation home

Key takeaways

  • Consider working with real estate agents well-versed in vacation rentals. They will understand you’re not just selling a home, but also a business.
  • Be prepared with the right paperwork to show potential buyers your home’s income potential.
  • Continue to book and assist guests during the selling process, while making it available to prospective buyers to tour.

Perhaps you’re not using your vacation home as much as you used to. Or, your children have all grown. Or, you have your eyes set on new investment. Whatever the reason—you’ve now decided to put your vacation rental on the market.

Before you lock the front doors and put up that ‘For Sale’ sign, here are five tips to help you avoid losing money and paying a hefty tax bill.

1. Make sure selling is a smart financial move

Even if you’re confident you want out, it’s wise to hire an accountant before you put the house on the market. It’s vital to understand all the financial outcomes. For instance, if you want to invest in another property, you may discover (too late) that it was best to stick with your original property once you factor in closing costs and current interest rates.

2. Partner with a real estate agent who knows the vacation rental market

Vacation rental properties are a special breed of real estate. Agents well-versed in these short-term rentals will understand that you’re not just selling a home, but a business. And, they’ll know how to position your property to investors looking for both the best cap rate and curb appeal. The Vacasa Real Estate team is one such trusted resource. Here’s what they can offer:

  • Expert rental industry insights
  • Knowledge of existing rules and restrictions in the vacation rental market
  • The largest list of vacation home buyers in the U.S.
  • A custom MLS listing tailored for vacation homes
  • Listing syndication, flyers, and yard signage
  • Complimentary professional HD photography
  • Network of experts in vacation rental real estate
Modern vacation rental management.

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

3. Pick the right time to list

While there’s no magic time to put your vacation home on the market, some months may be better than others—based on your destination. You could consider listing right before your high season. Some benefits:

  • Your property is likely in prime condition
  • A booked calendar of upcoming reservations makes a stronger case for your home
  • Buyers can start making money right away

If the buyer needs to invest in improvements or repairs before they can host guests, you might want to sell well ahead of your busiest time of the year. This will give the buyer time to get the property in tip-top shape to maximize the high season.

On the other hand, if your timeline to sell is years out, consider selling before expensive, big-ticket repairs and replacements are due—such as replacing roofs, flooring, or windows.

4. Show buyers the money

Many vacation rental buyers are real estate investors looking for a cash-flowing asset, not just a second home for personal vacations. So, come prepared with evidence that your home can turn a profit. Some paperwork and facts to collect ahead of time:

  • Rental income history
  • Financial projections
  • Profit and loss (P&L) statements
  • Tax returns
  • Vendor contracts
  • Visitor numbers, including the amount of travelers that visit your destination every year (you can get this from the local tourism authority)
  • Major attractions in your area and the distance from each
  • The top reasons why guests book your vacation rental (this often isn’t evident in financial statements)

Also, do you have any unique features that aren't currently being used, such as a granny flat or a basement with a private entrance? Make sure buyers know there is potential for even more rental income.

Living area of Key West, FL vacation rental with view of private pool

5. Don’t stop booking

Deals can fall apart. Potential buyers can disappear. Financing can fall through. Even if you believe your vacation rental will sell quickly, keep rental income flowing and your guests happy. One of the appeals of investing in a vacation rental is that it comes with turnkey business assets and systems that make money—from your listings on vacation rental sites to your cleaning procedures after guests check out.

Here are two ways to continue booking guests, while making it available to view for prospective buyers:

  1. Block out light travel days for property showings, such as Tuesday or Wednesday. Let buyers know ahead of time that you are committed to respecting your guests’ privacy and getting 5-star reviews.

  2. Create a video and offer quality photos so buyers can examine your home online (if your vacation rental was managed by Vacasa, we provide complimentary virtual tours and professional photography—even before you get your first reservation).

There’s a lot to navigate when selling your vacation rental without losing money. From getting the right details in order to listing at just the right time—these tips can help you maximize your earnings while your vacation home is on the market.

Selling your vacation rental FAQ

A common way to defer paying the taxes on your capital gains—meaning, your profit—when selling your vacation home is to complete a 1031 exchange. This allows you to sell one investment property, then purchase another “like-kind” property without having to pay capital gains tax. There’s no limit on how frequently you can do a 1031 exchange. These taxes can be deferred indefinitely. The capital gains keep rolling from one investment property to another, just as long as you don’t sell any of those investment properties for cash.

1031 exchanges for vacation rentals >

One way to lower your vacation rental tax bill is to maximize your deductions. There are many expenses you may be able to write off. Some common tax deductible expenses can include appliances, furniture, maintenance and repairs, and even utility bills.

10 vacation rental deductions to consider >

Let's get started

Talk to us

You've got questions. We've got answers.

Call 844-518-0967 to speak with a Homeowner Consultant, who can answer preliminary questions and see if we’d be a good fit for you.

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.


Get more info

Not ready to chat? We’ll email you more info to explore.

You might also like...

a woman sitting at her desk on the phone with a client
How to hire the right vacation rental property manager
Vacation home in Miramar Beach, FL
Should you rent or sell your second home?
adorable blue gatlinburg vacation cabin
What are the pros and cons of owning a vacation rental property?
modular vacation home in Folly Beach, SC
How to manage multiple vacation rental properties

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 of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, 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.