WOW will come out of your mouth when you see the impressive view from this Penthouse Condo. No work here, just enjoy the beauty/fun of Summit Cty all year long SE facing windows create a magnificent view of Lake Dillon with Gray’s and Torreys mtns in the distance. Extra storage upstairs with an office to boot! The one car garage also has a storage area to stow the gear! The canoe you’ve always wanted is included along with the bikes. Make this prime location yours. CALL TODAY to see it!!
Summit Mountain Rentals (a property management company in Summit County) has some great advice for first-time second homeowners who are looking to rent their property.
RENTING YOUR VACATION HOME YOURSELF? AVOID THESE FIRST-TIMER PITFALLS
If you’re renting your vacation home for the first time, it’s easy to fall victim to what we call “first-timer pitfalls.” Renting your vacation home is a business. Unfortunately, many forget this and treat renting their home too casually or forget to consider the consequences. Running a business, even a small one like renting your property, takes time, effort and thoughtfulness.
Here are the top things to never forget:
Pay your taxes
In the beginning of the vacation rental market, governments were not too worried about a single homeowner paying sales tax. But with the advent of VRBO, AirBnB and other online channels of sale, vacation rentals by owners is big business — with big revenue. Local tax entities no longer look kindly upon a “casual” attitude toward paying taxes. The last couple of years, city, county and state governments have offered amnesty to homeowners for back taxes as long as they start paying current taxes. However, these types of programs are going away.
If you are renting your property, you owe sales tax — and not paying sales tax is a crime. If you have not been paying sales tax, start now. Remember, it does not affect your rental’s price. Everyone expects to pay sales tax on top of the price you list; you just need to tell your guests and charge them for it. There is no reason to risk criminal action, so pay your taxes.
Get professional pictures of your rental
Yes, this costs money. But the difference in revenue, guest satisfaction and just plain pride in your home calls for professional pictures. And, unless you sell photography for money, you are not a professional photographer. The number one way to distinguish yourself from other properties in the sales process is to have great pictures. Homeaway/VRBO is now building algorithms to determine if you have good pictures; if so, you get a higher spot in their listings. This will become standard in the market. Not only do good pictures generate better income; it makes for happier guests. The number one way to make a guest happy is to meet or exceed their expectations. So take lots of great pictures and let your guest know exactly what they are getting. You will make them happier, generate better income and reviews, and just make your life easier.
Upgrade your vacation home
If you walk into your vacation home and say “Wow, I really like being here,” so will your guests. Think of it this way: going cheap gets cheap — and going nicer gets nicer. If you furnish and treat your home like a “rental,” then your guest will do the same. If you furnish and treat your home like a beautiful home, then your guests will do the same. Nicer homes have much less wear and tear because guests love them and come back. I always advise my owners to make their home something they love to come to. It always works — guests know the second they come into a home whether the owner cares about their property. And, it will generate more money for you. The number one way to increase price and sell more nights is creating repeat guests. People come back to places they like. Making your home spectacular not only makes you feel good when you visit, it makes your guests feel good and makes you more money through higher rates and higher occupancy.
Need help? Check out these great articles on updating vacation-home kitchens and bathrooms.
A bad bed is just a bad bed
Have you slept or at least tried to take a nap on all the beds in your vacation home? If you haven’t, do it. One bad review about mattresses can make you lose a lot of guests. People don’t call and ask if you replaced a bad mattress they read about in a review; they just don’t come. If you get a complaint, go try to sleep on the bed. If your mattresses are 10 years old … they are 10 years old! Replace them. The primary function of a vacation home is to sleep. Often your guests will not even eat in the home, but they all sleep in the home. If you don’t give them a good night’s sleep, nothing else matters.
Need help? Check out this great articles on updating vacation-home bedding.
Have local resources ready
Now that you have found your renters, collected their money and checked them in — what happens next? Why, Murphy’s Law, of course: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The TV won’t work, the heat goes out, the air conditioning goes out, the fire alarm goes off, the water doesn’t come out of the master shower … and so on. Almost no one realizes how often things go wrong in their own home … we just take care of it. But in your vacation rental — for which someone is paying good money — you now have to take care of the same issues for someone else. And, you’re a 1000 miles away.
It is imperative that you not only have names and numbers of good local vendors (plumbers, electricians, etc.) but that you have interviewed them. You need to know if the plumber will come out on a Sunday night at 10 p.m. (You do know that toilets only overflow on a weekend night, right?) You need to know that your audio video resource will be able to fix the TV on Super Bowl weekend (again, this always happens!). You need to know that electrician will go out and fix the power at 1 a.m. so the house does not freeze. There is nothing worse than having a guest yelling at you over the phone because their 2-year-old child has been sleeping in a freezing cold or overheated room for four hours. Be prepared … and know your resources.
Pricing is important
Don’t be fooled: Having every date sold in July 2016 by the end of August 2015 the previous year is not “great.” It means your pricing is WAY TOO LOW. Not only have you lost out lots of revenue, you have probably rented to the cheapest and least respectful people. The same is true for not having July 4 booked by June 15. In this case, your pricing is probably WAY TOO HIGH.
So … pricing is very important. You need to sell your property, but you don’t want to give it away. The trick is research and paying attention. Do a quick search of the vacation homes that are similar to yours. How are they priced? Now do you want sell your home before them (price yours slightly lower) or after them (price yours slightly higher). Then pay attention. if your home is selling too fast, raise the price. If it is selling slowly, lower the price.
Renting a vacation home is a job
It takes time. Don’t fool yourself. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you have the time to do things right. What I’ve discussed here is just a small part of what it takes to rent your vacation home yourself. If you take the time and do it right, you can make good money. But if you don’t have the time or don’t like doing it, no amount of money made will be worth the aggravation.
So, try it! You’ll know quickly if you like it. If you don’t like doing it, get a good property management company do it for you. Either way, USE YOUR HOME AND ENJOY IT. I have found that owners who visit their vacation home often have the happiest guests. If you are happy with your vacation home, then others will be happy too.
If you have any questions about renting your vacation property yourself, call me! I’m happy to talk with you and help you get started. Here’s my number:
Mark Waldman, Owner, Summit Mountain Rentals, 970-423-7382
Or, shoot me an email. You can also post any questions (or tips) on vacation rentals in the “Comments” section below.
With ski season winding down in Colorado’s high country and the Denver-Boulder housing market so strong, real estate experts say Front Range buyers appear to be turning their attention to second-home and investment opportunities in the state’s major ski-town markets.
“We’re definitely seeing a spike among the Front Range residents and their desire to buy a second home, and in many areas there’s no shortage of inventory, so they have their choice,” said Bank of America Regional Sales Director Ann Thompson, who added that soaring Denver home prices may be driving some of that trend.
“Denver metro has seen about 16 percent gains in home prices, and now that they’ve got that equity going, they look at that and say, ‘I can improve my home, or I can also use that equity to make a down-payment on a second home,” Thompson said.
The different mountain-town markets vary in terms of Front Range second-home ownership. In Eagle County (Vail and Beaver Creek), for instance, an analysis by Land Title Guarantee Company found that 17 percent of the 2015 fourth-quarter homebuyers were from the Front Range. That compares to 57 percent in Grand County (Winter Park), 38 percent in Summit County (Breck, Copper, Keystone and A-Basin) and just 2 percent in Pitkin County (Aspen).
“There are no opportunities for them to invest down on the Front Range, so they’re coming up here and looking,” said Andrew Forstl of The Davos Group real estate and property management company in Vail. “There are no deals down there. Denver is unattainable for investments, so people are looking up here, and it’s just kind of started. Our market isn’t nearly as booming as the Front Range — things are not flying off the shelf — but it’s healthy.”
Forstl says one of his clients, a Front Range family that had been skiing and looking at properties all winter in the Vail Valley, was finally ready to pull the trigger in the closing weeks of ski season and just went under contract.
“They were waiting for the end of the season for deals to come out – places that have been on the market all season and they’re looking to get a deal on one of them,” Forstl said, adding that in general, sales to Front Range second-home buyers will drop off some after the lifts stop running and then pick up again in June.
“Things that haven’t sold over the winter are going to go down in price, so people are looking at that, but it’s hard getting them up here to look at stuff the next couple of months,” Forstl said. “What’s changed is a lot of people are coming up here for the summer. Ten years ago summer was nothing up here, but a lot of people are liking the summer as much as the winter.”
Bank of America’s Thompson agrees with that trend, urging prospective Front Range homebuyers to do their homework and consult various experts, including an experienced mortgage loan officer, a realtor and even a CPA on whether to buy as a second home or an investment rental property to be listed on VRBO or other services.
“A realtor can help with projecting realistic rents not only in the winter, but also in the summer,” Thompson said. “That’s very, very popular for Front Range people – the music festivals, the mountain biking, hiking. That’s really important when you’re looking at year-round potential for rental and also to be attractive for Front Range resale.”
Thompson also added that it’s key to look at amenities such as conference space, either in a dedicated facility such as Keystone or in the hotels in Vail, with a good mix of retail, entertainment and other options that will attract renters. Plus, access is always a concern, she says, and a good regional airport that avoids potential Interstate 70 gridlock can be a plus.
The Eagle County Regional Airport in Gypsum, 40 miles west of Vail, welcomed its 8 millionth commercial passenger on March 29 after first launching commercial air service in 1989. Still, drive-to markets will be always continue to be the most popular for Front Range buyers, especially when they’re home values have increased so much and they’re feeling priced out in their own primary metro-area market.
“Equity in your home builds a lot of confidence about financial comfort,” Thompson said. “When you have equity in your home, there is that ability to borrow on that equity, but even if you’re using stock options or a bonus or what have you, it’s just all about that confidence to make that investment [in a mountain second home or rental property].”
According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the metro Denver area led the nation for the highest rate of home price appreciation for half of 2015. Denver was second in the nation among major cities four months out of the year, and wound up third in December, behind only Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. Overall, home prices in Denver rose 10.2 percent in 2015, compared to 5.4 percent nationally. But that kind of increase has some investors there wary.
A recent Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Investor Pulse Poll of more than 1,000 high net-worth investors revealed they feel the Denver housing market is overpriced and unaffordable for first-time homebuyers. The poll of Denver-area investors between the ages of 25 and 75 with $100,000 or more in household liquid investable assets found that 89 percent feel the metro-area market is overpriced. Nearly as many (86 percent) said the market is pricing out first-time homebuyers, and there is concern a bubble is forming.
“I think the financial crisis of 2008 is still very fresh in a lot of people’s minds, particularly high net-worth investors, so they’re looking at what happened to real estate prices here,” Denver-based Morgan Stanley financial advisor Todd Hauer said. “We were down probably 30 to 40 percent from the 2007 highs to the 2009 lows.”
Bank of America’s Thompson says it’s tougher to flip properties in the mountain markets the way some Front Range buyers have been able to do the last few years. That’s why she says mountain-town investments may make more sense as a longer-term play that’s based on a lifestyle choice.
“With VRBO, there’s just so much more exposure to the lifestyle, and then they want to turn it into a permanent lifestyle,” Thompson said, adding a season full of powder days can certainly influence a second-home decision. “This is the time of year where they’ve had that wonderful experience, and they’re like, huh, I want my own place.”
April 10th – Keystone
April 10th – Beaver Creek
April 10th – Frisco Adventure Park & Nordic Center
April 17th – Vail
April 24th – Breckenridge
April 17th (closed 18th-21st) 22, 23, 24th – Copper Mountain
May 3rd (rough) – Loveland
Arapahoe Basin – undecided
There are tons of benefits that come with owning a second home: novelty and adventure, a place to escape and unwind, an opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime, a valuable tool to make vacation-craving friends like you a whole lot (for better or for worse).
But there’s another benefit that’s often overlooked: the tax breaks.
You already know that owning a home usually offers some tax deductions. But what if you own two? Or three? What if you’re a regular Donald Trump (back in his real estate, meat magnate heyday, of course)?
Since we know you won’t mind a little extra cash to spend while soaking in your surroundings during your next getaway, we thought we’d tell you how to reap the fruits of your second-home purchase.
In fact, you can write off as much as 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1 million of debt, which includes total debt taken on to pay for both homes, as well as money spent on improving the properties. (That’s not up to $1 million for each property—just up to $1 million in total.)
For starters, there will be a limit on the amount you can deduct if the home equity loan on your main or second home is more than $50,000 if filing single or $100,000 if married or filing jointly.
Second, the amount you can deduct has a limit if the mortgage is more than the fair market value of the home, says Gil Charney, director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.
For example, let’s say a taxpayer has a mortgage of $220,000 and takes out a home equity loan of $65,000. The property’s fair market value is $275,000. Since the difference between the fair market value and the mortgage is $55,000, then $55,000 of the home equity loan can be deducted, not the full $65,000.
3. Property taxes
You can also deduct your second home’s property taxes, which are based on the assessed value of the home. That’s good news. Even better news? Unlike the mortgage interest tax deduction, there’s no dollar limit on the amount of real estate taxes that can be deducted on any number of homes owned by the taxpayer.
But beware: Taxpayers who can afford two homes are likely to land in a higher tax bracket—which means slimmer pickings for tax savings. For example, in 2016, a married couple whose gross income exceeds $311,300 would have limits on the types of itemized deductions they could take.
4. Renting out your home
If you rent out your second home for 14 days or less over the course of a year, that rental income is tax-free—and there’s no limit to what you can charge per day or week. Score!
But if you’re hoping to put your secondary digs on Airbnb or another rental site for more than 14 days during the year, be prepared to do some heavy math come tax time.
You’ll want to figure out the number of days you rent your home and divide that by the total number of days your home was used—whether it was you or a renter staying there. (The total number of days that the home was vacant doesn’t fall into this equation.)
For instance, let’s say you rented out your vacation home for 30 days within a year, and vacationed in your home for 90 days.
We’ll divide 30 (the days you rented it out) by 120 (the total number of days the home was used). The result: 25% of your rental-related expenses—which could range from utilities to the cost of a property manager—can be deducted. Now, if your home is losing value, that same percentage (in this example, 25%) of depreciation costs can also be deducted.
Here’s the caveat, Charney explains: Depreciation costs can be deducted only if there is rental income remaining after taking into account other deductions, such as mortgage interest, property taxes, and direct expenses tied to renting your home—like agent fees or advertising.
5. When it’s time to sell
Maybe you bought a far-off hideaway that you’re lucky to visit a couple of times a year. Or perhaps your vacation home is just a quick drive away, and you spend every possible moment there.
If it’s the latter—and you don’t already know which of your homes is your primary residence and which is the second home—now’s the time to figure it out. Distinguishing between the two can have big tax implications when it comes time to sell.
That’s because a capital gain of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 for taxpayers who are married/joint filers) on the sale of the principal residence may be excluded from taxable income.
Your principal—or primary—residence is the home you used most during the five years prior to the sale. But other factors—such as your job’s location, voter registration address, and banking location—could also come into play. Among other requirements, you must own and use that principal residence for at least two of the five years before the home is sold.
We know—that’s a lot of heavy stuff to take in. But you knew your second home would pay off in more ways than one, right? Now, hurry up and file your tax return—so you can escape to your happy place and forget about burdensome things. Like taxes.