Sunday, April 28, 2013

Do I have a good rental? by Margaret Krainin

So you're starting to consider renting your cottage or home. How do you know if it will make a good rental? There are three main factors.

First, to apply an old cliché, the most important attribute of real estate is location. For rentals in the Sebago region, that means attractive, safe, usable lakefront in a quiet, well kept neighborhood, and relatively convenient access to amenities and stores.

The highest demand, of course, is for sandy beaches, but not all our lakes have sandy beaches all around them. If your lakefront is neat and well-maintained, with easy access into the lake, even if it isn't a very large beach, or if you have rocky access made more convenient by a dock, you will still be able to rent your cottage.

Cottages with shared access or difficult terrain will be harder to rent, but still not impossible, and you will need to put more emphasis on decor, amenities and "toys". Your best ally is an accurate description, to allow your prospective renters to make well-informed decisions about whether your landscape will work for their particular needs.

The next most important factor is condition. Take a careful, unsentimental look at your property. If it's getting run down, in need of paint, with holes in the deck, roof leaking, porch doors unhinged and junk in the yard, that won't be seen as "charming campiness" by your renters. Everything will have to be fixed before you can rent your cottage – and preferably before you even offer it for rent, because we all know how deadlines can slip and good intentions become "didn't happen". Actual campiness is fine, and still sought after by many renters (especially those who came here for summer camp in their youth), but even though plain and simple, everything still has to be in excellent repair and completely clean.

The third factor is furnishings. Needless to say, furniture and beds must be comfortable and not broken, musty or moldy. Thirty or forty years ago, the mismatched furniture (we call it 'eclectic') that had made its way from your living room to your family room to the dorm was perfectly acceptable for the cottage – today, not so much. The trend is now for a more coordinated style. Out of date furnishings can get by for a while, but for top rental income, upgrade your decor, and make it feel like Maine with great accent items picturing moose and bears, chickadees and pine cones.

The best way to find out if your cottage is ready for renting, and to get tips on what needs to be done if it isn't, is to have a local rental agency give you an estimate of rentability.

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