Alright, so you're buying a Short Term Rental and planning to list it on AirBnb and VRBO. Congratulations!! You rock!!!! So.....now what??
I know that the first steps after purchase can be really daunting, but not to fear - I have a helpful list to make sure that you don't miss the important stuff. For those of you that are managing this go-live from a distance, this list is especially for you.
1. Set up Utilities
I always felt like this was a pretty easy step until I bought in Texas. Research what we used by the previous owner and then what other options are available in your area. Do this research early, schedule them to start on closing day, and you'll be fine.
2. Legal Setup
Since you've already decided to buy a property, I hope you've made sure it's legal to rent it out as a short term rental (not every property is zoned appropriately and not legal in every city!). But even after that, you need to make sure that your rental is registered appropriately, passes required inspections, and you're paying taxes legally. Every county and city is different, and you need to make sure to do it right.
What I've done is use Avalara's MyLodgeTax. It costs some money, but it's well worth it in the long run to make sure you don't pay big fines!
3. Select Handy-person
You're going to need this person for a lot of odd tasks, so it's best not to use a general contractor for this unless you have some true construction projects. And I can't stress this enough: make sure you get this person as a recommendation from fellow owners, and even then make sure to get picture and video updates of their progress often. I was once too lax with a person we hired and he ended up ghosting us and stealing $1000.
So what does this handy-person do? Well a good person can do lots of things. We live across the country from our properties, so we figured out the the minimum tasks:
Do an initial video walkthrough and inventory of the property.
Meet the internet technician. Don't waste money on a flight - let this handy-person be there from 11am to 4pm on a Tuesday.
Set up your smart tech. Locks, cameras, thermostats, and smart TVs are a must.
Replace light bulbs. Make sure the colors match throughout.
Haul away junk.
Patch and paint minor holes.
Power-wash and reseal decks as needed.
4. Select a Cleaner
This is probably your most important contact. Find the person that does what you want, and you are able to work with. You'll probably be communicating with them more than anyone else.
5. Arrange other Contractors
I've never bought a house that didn't need some work right after buying it. Doesn't matter if the house was 150 years old or 6 years old. Get these people in quickly because they usually have busy schedules. Use your home inspection as a guide for what work needs to be done, and call in these people:
6. Select Routine Maintenance Providers
I talked about some of these people in my other post. We've already listed a lot of people above - who's left?? Well:
Make sure to get service from both well before your first guest arrives
7. Deep Clean
Every house I've bought has a layer of gunk. It's gross. People live in houses for years without thinking about it, or their cleaners aren't scrubbing all the corners. I try to be understanding...but yuck!
Your guests will notice. So after all your construction is done, you need to schedule a deep clean with your cleaner. It's pricey, but an absolute necessity.
Now your place is ready for guests! But no one is going to stay there unless you have awesome pictures that show off every single room. And please don't go taking these pictures with your iPhone. You just won't get the right effect, and guests will be able to tell. If they see cheap photos, they're going to wonder where else you cut corners.
Get a professional photographer that specializes in real estate photos. They will know the right angles and complimentary edits that can will really show off your space.
Start early on this process - don't wait until closing day to put together your to do list! Get your inspection report ready to hand off to your handy-person, prep your contact list, and you'll do great!
Next we'll take a look at the systems needed to for the go live process!