We Hear You: Maintenance on Vacation Properties is a Bummer

Ah, vacation time at last! A well-earned rest, far from the stresses of everyday, at your cozy getaway. Having a second home in a great vacation spot is a dream for many of us, and if you’re lucky enough to have one… well, you’re lucky. And you’ve worked hard for it.

Owning a second home can be a wonderful investment, and more Americans than ever are buying. According to a piece in Forbes, vacation home sales make up just over 20% of all home sales. It’s a popular idea, and there are a lot of upsides to it.

Having a second home in your favorite destination makes it easier to visit frequently. You become familiar with the area and can take advantage of more local features, like great restaurants or activities that only the locals know about. You’ll develop new friendships and build memories in a special place. Having your own place also means you can store clothing and equipment on-site, greatly simplifying your packing. Great for spur-of-the-moment getaways.

It’s Not All Fun and Games

Of course it’s not all fun and games. Vacation property maintenance can be complicated. A second home may actually require more maintenance than a primary residence, in some cases. This happens because of infrequent use, renter wear and tear, weathering in a sunny or snowy climate, and the fact that contractors may charge more in a high-demand area.

If you rent out your second home, you’ll likely employ a property management company to collect rent and keep an eye on things. These businesses usually charge a flat monthly rate and up to 30% of the rent collected. Another consideration is the fact that property insurance can be around 20% higher if you rent your home out and many vacation areas have higher property tax rates for vacation homes based on location and occupancy.

The DIY Maintenance Plan

With all of that in mind, many of us start out with the intention of taking care of vacation property maintenance ourselves. Depending on the distance from your primary residence, this may or may not be a realistic idea for you.  

Responding to emergencies – a burst pipe, storm damage, etc. can be especially troublesome. And then there’s the fact that visiting your vacation home is supposed to be relaxing and fun. It sort of defeats the purpose if you spend your vacation caulking the tub or taking out an overgrown hedge.

With the knowledge that preventative maintenance is the best way to keep a property in great shape and avoid breakdowns and emergencies, the question is: how can that sort of proactive maintenance happen for a second home?

Finding the Right Maintenance Plan

#1: The Property Manager

One popular option is hiring a property manager. These companies take care of opening and closing the vacation home and arranging for local staff to take care of some maintenance and cleaning. They are on hand to respond to emergencies. If you rent out your home, the property manager can advertise the rental, check in the guests, and handle payments for you.

This can be a good option, especially if you live far away. But remember, they generally work for a percentage (from 20-60%) of the rental price.

#2: The Local Housekeeper

Another idea is hiring a local housekeeper or handyman. Even during the offseason, it’s a good idea to have someone local who can go to the house once a month to turn on faucets, flush toilets, and inspect for damage. If you don’t hire one person to oversee repairs, at least have a list of local repair companies at your fingertips. Invest three or four hours into assembling a list of plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and other reputable locals.

These ideas are good for keeping an eye on your vacation property when you can’t be there yourself (which, unfortunately, is most of the time). But it still does not address the fact that vacation property maintenance involves much more. The kind of maintenance that circumvents problems and keeps a property in top condition requires a more proactive approach.

#3: A Preventative Maintenance Company

Preventative vacation property maintenance provides assurance that small issues don’t become big problems. This type of plan outlines a maintenance strategy that is tailored to the home and the owner’s expectations. Emergencies are covered, but many are also avoided when systems are maintained on a schedule. The cost of this approach is outweighed by the benefits and increased property value.

The benefits here are obvious: in addition to having a manager “on the ground” to handle emergencies and monitor the property, you’ll be assured that no catastrophes are brewing, because maintenance is ongoing. Maybe best of all, with a preventive maintenance arrangement, you won’t be spending your vacation time on projects and repairs.

Preventative maintenance is nothing to ignore – whether at your primary residence or vacation home. Learn more about the preventative maintenance programs available to you via Glasshouse by visiting Glasshouse.com today!

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