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Diving Into the Vacation Rental Market 

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So you've decided to jump on the bandwagon and join the ranks of Central Oregon's vacation rental owners. What now? We've gathered up some advice to guide you in making your rental stand out from the crowds, and getting the most out of your investment. (If you haven't already submitted your vacation rental application to the City, hop to it. The deadline is September 30.)

Property manager or Airbnb? Services like Airbnb or VRBO can be an inexpensive, easy solution for many vacation rental owners, especially if they don't rent through the entire year and live in the same geographic area as the rental. However, doing all of the booking through an online service not only prevents the one on one contact with a potential renter (which could alert the owner to red flags), online listings can often get lost in a long list of properties. This is especially problematic in a vacation rental-heavy area such as Central Oregon. A vacation rental management company costs more, but will act as the liaison between you and the renter. They have bound legal contracts to help protect both you and the tenant. A property manager will also help to screen the renter to fit your specific guidelines and parameters, and may provide additional marketing resources for your home.

Furnishings: No one wants to feel as though they've stepped into a time warp. Vacationers want the same amenities and comforts they have at home. Furniture should be clean and look fairly stylish. This isn't to say you must spend a lot of money to furnish your rental—not at all—but you don't want your guests to feel as though they've walked into a home that has discarded furniture.

Make your home feel like a home away from home. This can be done at a minimal expense. It really doesn't take much to add some personal touches to make your guests feel as though they're home away from home. Extra pillows and blankets, art on the walls, and a collection of books or movies works wonders for creating a cozy atmosphere.

Keep it clean! Hire a cleaning service if necessary. This seems obvious, but so many self-managed rentals have a thin film of grime covering the surfaces. Changing sheets and doing dishes is not enough in Central Oregon, take that next step to ensure a comfortable stay. Walk through your property regularly. If you are not able to do so, enlist the help of a local friend or your management company. Look for visible signs of damage and wear and tear. Accidents happen but you want all repairs completed before the next set of guests move in.  Outside, lawns should be mowed and seating areas should be clean and usable. If your property comes with the use of a grill, make sure there is enough propane. If you have a winter vacation home, make sure that your furnaces are working and test the heat at the beginning of each rental season. Whether you manage your property or not, a hands-on and involved renter generally has a better property than on who is absent.

Home price round-up:

Low:

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63165 Boyd Acres Road, Bend, 97701

3br, 2ba, 1222sf , built 2005, 6098sf lot

$219,000

Mid:

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21369 NE Evelyn Place, Bend, 97701

3br, 2.5ba, 2084sf, new construction, 3920sf lot

$325,390

High:

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60973 Waterfront Ct., Bend, 97702

4br, 6ba, 8247sf, built 2007, 0.48-acre lot

$2,950,000

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