10 Pro Moves That Will Boost Your Home's Vacation Rental Value

It’s a jungle out there in the world of short-term vacation rentals — and the experts of ‘My House Is Your House’ are here with a treasure map.

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Having a home that converts to a holiday space when you’re out of town can translate to serious income. As Nashville rental pros Teryn Chapin and Victoria Robinson and San Diego rental pros Ryan and Claire Danz know, tapping into that resource isn’t quite as easy as stashing your stuff in a closet and turning over your keys.

How, then, does a listing go from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it to the hottest vacation property in town? They’re so glad you asked — and on My House Is Your House, HGTV’s all-new rental-rehab series, they walk us through their fancy footwork.

Lesson 1: Get on Top of Your Digital Game

Creating a unique name and hashtag for your short term rental property and displaying it on a letterboard is a cute touch that will get your listing online attention. (after, interior)

Creating a unique name and hashtag for your short term rental property and displaying it on a letterboard is a cute touch that will get your listing online attention. (after, interior)

The process of being a successful host begins long before you welcome your guests. In fact, it begins before they book your home. “Respond to your inquiries immediately,” Ryan advises, “or your guests are going to book somewhere else. And never cancel, because once you do, you’re going to get dropped so far [down] in the search rank, you might as well have never been listed.” Expand your online presence, in turn, by creating a hashtag for your place. Those happy, casual social-media posts add personality to the pro details in your listing.

Lesson 2: Try to Outdo Your Neighbors

A mid-century modern exterior stands out in a San Diego neighbourhood, which will make this house stand out amongst other online short term rental listings, as seen on My House is Your House. (exterior, after)

A mid-century modern exterior stands out in a San Diego neighbourhood, which will make this house stand out amongst other online short term rental listings, as seen on My House is Your House. (exterior, after)

As Ryan explains, visitors aren’t just getting an eyeful of your place when they arrive — they’re taking in the look of the whole neighborhood. If the homes surrounding yours are bringing their A games and you fall short, you’re prepping guests for disappointment. Before its midcentury-modern makeover, this San Diego home looked like a commercial lot. “You drive up to this house where [there was] really nothing worth stopping for, and if you’re renting in this neighborhood, you’re feeling like, I think I got swindled,” Ryan said. Post-rehab, it’s ready to keep up with the Joneses.

Lesson 3: First Impressions Are Everything

The after of the new front exterior of the house for the pilot Home Suite Home. The newly renovated exterior includes a pathway to the front door, new landscaping, new painted doors and landing area and a sitting nook.

The after of the new front exterior of the house for the pilot Home Suite Home. The newly renovated exterior includes a pathway to the front door, new landscaping, new painted doors and landing area and a sitting nook.

Before Teryn and Victoria rolled up, this East Nashville bungalow’s main entrance wasn’t even identifiable. Were guests supposed to enter via the steps up front or the door on the side patio? Worse still, the pavers and landscaping were in desperate need of updates, and a lock box with the house keys was all but invisible.

No, no, no, says Teryn: “When you pull up,” she advises, “you want to be so excited: There it is! There’s my vacation home!” That immediate positive reaction lays the groundwork for a glowing review, and the funds you invest in cosmetic work are money well spent. Teryn and Victoria also swapped the mysterious lock box out for a digital entry pad that removes the guesswork from getting inside and provides additional security, since the homeowners can now change the code each time they welcome new visitors. Speaking of welcoming new visitors…

Lesson 4: Make Sure Your Guests Have Somewhere to Park

Teryn and Victoria reconfigured the home’s outdoor space to provide a dedicated space for cars — a power move that will earn their clients points with renters and their neighbors. Friends don’t make friends battle it out for precious curbside spots.

Lesson 5: Don’t Neglect the Floors

Cleanup is time wasted if the surfaces you’re tidying don’t look pristine, and this home’s wooden floors were so scarred that they made its interior look dirty. Teryn and Victoria gave them a quick but vigorous face lift, and…got a dramatic reaction, let’s say.

Lesson 6: Clean It Like You Mean It

A finished bright white mid-century modern living room works for David and Carol's family and their short term renters, as seen on My House is Your House. (interior, after)

A finished bright white mid-century modern living room works for David and Carol's family and their short term renters, as seen on My House is Your House. (interior, after)

Hiring a pro to reset your space after guests leave might seem like an extravagance, but cleaning services will get to areas you might miss — and “cleaning is probably the biggest complaint people have” in vacation rentals, Claire says. “One piece of hair, one little stain, one little dust bunny — you might hear about it in your reviews. And it is tough to recover from a bad cleaning review.”

Lesson 7: Stage Everything

The before of spare bedroom / music studio on the main floor of the hoiuse for the Home Suite pilot. Jesse & Jon converted the spare bedroom into Jon's music studio.

The before of spare bedroom / music studio on the main floor of the hoiuse for the Home Suite pilot. Jesse & Jon converted the spare bedroom into Jon's music studio.

“Having a room that’s locked up is a waste,” Teryn notes. Sure, this studio was square footage well spent in the context of its homeowners’ lives — he’s a musician, she needed office space, and they were able to put their personal effects behind lock and key when they turned their place over to renters — but it was also costing them $100 per night in potential earnings.

The after of the spare bedrrom & sttudio for the Home Suite Home pilot. New refurbish hardwood floors, new queen size bed and new studio desk and accessories.

The after of the spare bedrrom & sttudio for the Home Suite Home pilot. New refurbish hardwood floors, new queen size bed and new studio desk and accessories.

Presented as a functional bedroom, by contrast, that same area is valuable to homeowners and newcomers.

Lesson 8: Focus on a Welcoming Kitchen

The After of the new kitchen which was expanded by combing the two orginal rooms for the kitchen. New white cabinets, aurtz countetops and appliances.

The After of the new kitchen which was expanded by combing the two orginal rooms for the kitchen. New white cabinets, aurtz countetops and appliances.

Renters opt for homes rather than hotels because they want to feel at home, and a cramped prep area and dilapidated appliances were hardly an appropriate base of operations. In fact, these homeowners had received specific feedback about their falling-apart refrigerator. “So many great reviews [can] come from the kitchen,” Teryn says — and this space needed a usable one that photographed well and had a lot of counter space. Knocking out a superfluous wall, swapping in new, stainless-steel appliances, and bringing in new countertops created a room that “makes me, as a renter, want to stay in this house and enjoy a nice meal,” as Teryn puts it. Even better, it increases the home’s resale value by $40,000 — and justifies the cost of the whole renovation project in one fell swoop.

Lesson 9: Plan Carefully With Bathrooms

The After the new master en-suite bathroom that was built from the space found in the dormer adjacent to the master bedroom for the Home Suite Home pilot. New shower, graphic cermaic floor & wall tiles, and new vanity

The After the new master en-suite bathroom that was built from the space found in the dormer adjacent to the master bedroom for the Home Suite Home pilot. New shower, graphic cermaic floor & wall tiles, and new vanity

This seemingly-simple second-floor space is chock full of lessons for would-be vacation hosts. First of all, its very existence is a plus: Prior to renovation, this home’s sole bathroom was on the first floor, and a guest had actually tumbled down the stairs(!) visiting the loo in the middle of the night. Furthermore, this strategic use of tile demonstrates how more isn’t always more: Teryn wanted to carry bold tile all the way up the wall, but Victoria knew it would feel more like a focal point — and save her homeowners money — if she focused on the floor. The stylish space they created made the adjoining master bedroom a true master without breaking the bank.

Lesson 10: Put a Bed on It

The after of the old 2nd floor nursery for the pilot Home Suite Home. The space has been converted into a spare bedroom with the additon of a murphy bed installed where the old closets were located. The space also acts as Jesse's office space with a desk on wheels.

The after of the old 2nd floor nursery for the pilot Home Suite Home. The space has been converted into a spare bedroom with the additon of a murphy bed installed where the old closets were located. The space also acts as Jesse's office space with a desk on wheels.

This second-floor office becomes additional sleeping space with the flick of a wrist, thanks to the ingenious horizontal Murphy bed Teryn and Victoria swapped in for a pair of shallow closets. Folded against the wall, the square footage it claims is minimal — and arranged like this, it’s an additional $100-$150 per night in rental value.

Before Teryn and Victoria revamped this bungalow, it slept four for $115/night. Six weeks later, the ecstatic homeowners reported that their all-new, three-bedroom, two-bath space for six to eight guests was pulling down $349/night—and the house they bought for $177,000 now appraises for $385,000. Now that’s a righteous renovation.

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