Posts filed under ‘rental home’

Owning A Vacation Rental Home: Feel Free to Ask Me Edition

Beach

Over the years I’ve received a lot of questions about owning a vacation rental home in a beach community. I’ve written about my house numerous times and received lots of emails over the years asking about the property we purchased. I try to answer these questions individually as the need arises, but I thought it might be more helpful to write posts for others who might be interested.

If you have any specific questions feel free to post a comment or send me an email. I am no expert on the topic, but I can provide details on my own experience.

Here are a few of my previous topics:

September 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM Leave a comment

Where Can I Buy Inexpensive DVDs and Blu-ray Movies?

Brave

I like the guests in our beach house to feel at home. While you hope for sunny days every day of the rental season you know that a few rainy days will creep in to someone’s vacation. In an effort to ease the blues that often go along with a gloomy day I’ve stocked two shelves in our living room with DVDs and another four shelves with board games.

Over the years a few of our movies have inadvertently gone missing, but overall most people understand that we leave these out for guests and treat them with care. Still after many summers the DVDs have incurred deep scratches that interfere with their ability to be properly viewed.

I’d like to purchase new DVDs or preferably Blu-ray movies for our guests, but I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do so. I’ve poked around eBay and even considered driving to a second hand CD/DVD store in our area, but I’m not sure if I’ll find the best prices there.

My husband and I don’t actually buy physical movies to watch at home anymore. We typically rent or buy movies directly from Amazon. In all due honesty I don’t like the clutter of DVD boxes and I’d actually prefer digital media if that’s possible.

We do have a Blu-ray player that is enabled with Amazon at the beach. Renters can watch movies we’ve already purchased, but there are security measures in place to make certain they don’t buy any new ones.

Last year we even maintained a Netflix account for the beach, but the streaming videos simply aren’t as new and up-to-date as the ones you can receive in the mail.

So I’m turning to my helpful readers. Do any of you know where I can buy inexpensive DVDs and Blu-ray movies? (While a few old classics would be nice, I am looking for newer releases.) Also, if you were renting a beach home would you consider the availability of movies important?

January 8, 2013 at 8:00 PM 11 comments

Debt. To the Tune of $600,000.

I’d like to say I don’t have any debt, but for now my desire and reality are not one and the same. $600,000 is an enormous amount of money and it’s roughly how much I currently owe. In fact, it’s such a large sum that it’s difficult to wrap my head around.

How on earth do I owe so much money and did I ever think I would be this indebted? Well the debt is made up of two mortgages. No credit card debt, student loans or debt of any other kind. Just two simple, fixed rate mortgages.

The first mortgage is on our primary home. The second is on a rental home near the shore of North Carolina. The first house was purchased when housing costs were relatively low. The second was purchased at the height of the housing boom. Despite buying when prices were high I don’t regret that decision in the least. In fact, I’d do it all over again if I had to.

People often ask me about owning a second home. I tell them to buy a place you’ll love and want to visit often. My beach home is a place of physical and spiritual healing. Despite it’s hefty price tag I can say without a doubt that it’s brought my husband and I closer together and made for a healthier marriage. After all, you have to communicate when you spend six hours driving to the beach next to one another.

When we had two high paying jobs paying the mortgages was never an issue. Now that I’m considering staying home with my son things will get a bit trickier. I know we could sell our beach home to help me stay home, but that would be a last resort. In fact, I’d be more inclined to sell my primary home then to cut ties with North Carolina.

I’m happy that we don’t owe any other money, but I would be happier if our overall debt weren’t so high. It’s interesting how my ideas change as I age. When I was working I thought nothing about paying those mortgages, but as my goals and desires change to focus on my son I ¬†look at those numbers and wonder what on earth I was thinking.

This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about debt see the Debt Roundup.

March 10, 2012 at 2:34 PM 7 comments

$300 in Less than 3 Hours

Have you ever had one of those days when you run from store to store with a long list of items that seems to get longer and longer by the minute? Well Saturday was that day for me. My husband and I hit a total of 11 stores and restaurants in a three hour period and spent over $300 while shopping.

In an effort to prepare our rental house for this season’s guests we went on a crazy mission to buy a hodge-lodge of items from all over the island. We started at the dollar store, then ventured to Walmart, Home Depot, Rite Aid, West Marine, Staples, Marshalls, a local surf shop and Kmart. On the way back north we stopped at Quizno’s for lunch, because I was absolutely starving and the hit Harris Teeter to buy groceries for dinner.

While most of the items were on our original list we did end up with a few unplanned items including a safari hat, cheap scented candle, package of Sharpies and surf stickers. Other than the stickers and candle, everything really was needed.

With more thoughtful and careful planning I could have found better deals on some of the items, but for the most part I only would’ve saved a dollar or two on each item, so I didn’t feel terribly bad about spending the money.

Some home owners put the minimal amount of effort into making their guests happy. My husband and I don’t fall into this bucket. We know that most Americans only take one or two weeks off of work each year and we certainly want them to enjoy their time at the beach as much as is humanly possible. We are constantly upgrading items in our home and buying new toys like hammocks, games, and pool floats.

Nothing makes me happier than reading our guest book at the end of each rental season. I love it when our guests enjoy our home as much as we do, even if that means spending $300!

June 14, 2011 at 2:15 AM 1 comment

A Coat of Paint Makes Everything Better


My husband and I have debated a kitchen remodeling project in our beach house for ages. While the current configuration works pretty well for us, the cabinets and countertop are original to the house, which was constructed in 1977. We’ve considered replacing the cabinets and reconfiguring the layout, but it would probably cost us at least $20,000 to $25,000.


The problem is that many of the cabinets were chipped and stained. I tried scrubbing with every type of cleaner I could think of, but the stains seemed set in and impossible to remove. I thought I might just need a little more elbow grease, but when my husband couldn’t seem to make any improvement either I decided that something should be done.

We discussed the options and decided to ask a local painter if he could simply repaint the framing and cabinet doors. At first I hated the idea of putting money into something we ultimately want to replace, but at the end of the day I decided it simply wasn’t worth spending that kind of money on the kitchen, at least not at this time in our lives.

Well the painters came by today. They repaired the cracks, sealed the holes, removed all the cabinet doors and painted each one inside and out. The kitchen looks good as new. Maybe good as 1970s new, but still it looks crisp and clean and will enable us to delay a kitchen remodel indefinitely. Okay, maybe not indefinitely, but at least for a few years.

April 24, 2011 at 2:55 AM 2 comments

Random Money Thoughts on a Saturday Evening

My husband cooked the most delicious vodka cream pasta sauce for our lunches last week. This is the third or fourth week in a row where he’s cooked a big batch of hearty, goodness that we can take to work with us.

Last week he made Indian food, which wasn’t nearly as tasty as this week’s pasta dish. He separated the pasta and sauce into separate little glass bowls that fit ever so snugly into our insulated lunch bags.

I ate the pasta twice this week and made a big batch of egg salad for the other two days. I also caved in and bought lunch one day this week, so I could hang out with a coworker. We used to eat together much more frequently and I missed taking a break from the office to chat with her.

I spent over $1000 on a new paint job and a significant power wash on our beach house. A lot of the work required climbing onto very tall ladders and I’m just not a fan of climbing up and down on those things or asking my husband to do it, so I happily paid money to a group of hard working men who think nothing of moving around on those things.

We received a number of quotes before settling on this particular painting company. The color we selected is absolutely gorgeous and the work they did was exceptionally clean. The interior and exterior of our house looks brand new. I forgot how a little paint can brighten up the place and alter the mood of a house and all the people who inhabit it.

On the home front I’m ready for winter to come and can’t wait for some good, old fashioned couch snuggling. I love cooking a warm meal, turning on the TV, lighting a fire, pulling out the covers and and laying on the couch watching a movie with my hubby.

November 7, 2010 at 12:25 AM 1 comment

Beds on the Brain

Last week’s phone call got me thinking about replacing some of the beds in my beach home. I’d like to replace two twin mattresses with two full beds, so renters and guests will have a little more room to spread out. I measured the room on Monday morning and I’m pretty sure the larger beds will fit. I’m not sure if this will increase our rental income, but I figure it never hurts to provide a slightly larger bed for our guests.

I’d like to replace the mattresses and purchase two new headboards. I went online in search of bargains and found a whole bunch of bed sets that fit the feel and decor of our home. Most of the bedroom furniture in our home is wooden and white so I’m looking for something similar that will withstand the force and carelessness of renters.

I really like the look of this bed

and this one.

I have no idea how much I should expect to pay for new beds. I found some really good prices online, but I wonder if I could attain better discounts by shopping in local stores. I’m also in need of a new futon and a few kitchen stools and I wonder if a furniture store might offer me a bulk discount for purchasing multiple items. I figure it can’t hurt to walk into a furniture store with a few pictures and ask what they might charge me for similar items.

October 14, 2010 at 3:40 AM 3 comments

Owning a Beach Home: Preparing for the Unexpected

I’m not a big shopper. I tend to stay out of the stores whenever possible and rarely spend money on unnecessary items, but when I do shop I often find myself lured to certain departments. Take the home and bedding departments for example. Ever since I purchased my beach home I’ve been on the look out for comforters and rugs.

The reason is simple; renters tend to spill every item imaginable on our linens and in my opinion nothing is grosser than sleeping with a blanket covered in stains. I do my best to clean out the blankets at the end of the rental season, but sometimes the stains just won’t come out and the linens are sent off to the donation center.

A lot of times the blankets aren’t terribly soiled, but a few stains here and there are enough to make a renter choose a different house the following year, so I do my best to clean them and when all else fails I head out in search of news ones. Lately I find myself searching for spare comforters knowing that I’ll need to replace them sooner or later.

I’ve looked at a whole host of online stores and found great bargains on quite a few. I found a number of colorful, modern bedding options as well as a bunch of beachy rugs and wall art. I tend to search for items that are high quality, but also highly discounted.


I want my guests to recognize the quality of the products in our home, but I also need to be very price conscious when purchasing items with brand names. When I’m not scouring the Internet for deals I find myself lured to the bedding and decorating departments at a host of discount stores including Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory. In fact, when I enter one of these stores I typically find myself lured to the back of the store in search of a bargain.

When I find a really good deal I buy a spare comforter, rug or other household item. Every few months I load these items into our car, drive them to our beach home and store them in an owner’s closet.

Just this past week I came down to the beach to find a soiled shower curtain that could not be repaired. Rather than running out to the store and paying full price I pulled a colorful, beachy curtain out of the closet that I purchased at 75% off the retail price.

Within a matter of minutes I replaced the old shower curtain with the new one. I saved money by purchasing the item in advance and didn’t waste any time on my vacation searching for the replacement.

September 12, 2010 at 3:35 AM 5 comments

If I Could Do It All Over Again Would I Still Buy My Beach Home?

Weeks ago Cindy Brick asked me the following questions:

How did you save up enough for your rental property? And having done that — would you do it again, knowing what you do now?

Well the wait has been long, but without further ado here are my answers…

I found my house a few weeks after I got out of the hospital with an unexpected medical condition. I was on a week long vacation in North Carolina and I was adamant about exercising even though it pained me to walk. In retrospect after falling ill I felt most at ease outside and in nature. As the wind blew past my cheeks and I breathed in the salt air I guess you can say I felt closer to my own spirituality.

One afternoon as I was walking around I spotted a for-sale sign on a newly painted, very cute house. My husband and I had considered buying property before. In fact, just a year earlier we bid on a house a few streets over from the one I found myself standing in front of.

I called the same realtor we’d work with that previous year and the moment I stepped inside the house I knew I wanted to buy it. I had no idea how my health would hold up, but I knew I didn’t want to delay. Looking back I think I feared that my health wouldn’t get better. I feared that doctor’s wouldn’t be able to cure me and ultimately I wanted to fulfill a dream before I passed away. Pretty grim, I know, but certainly truthful.

I bought my house during the height of the housing market. Although that wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made I will say that the height of the housing market also coincided with the rise in value to many stocks in my portfolio.

The company I worked for provided shares of stock as incentives for good performance and over the years I’d earned my fair share of rewards. I cashed out my shares in order to cover a large chunk of the down payment. As a side note it’s a good thing I sold those shares because a few years later they became worthless.

My husband also saved a lot of money and invested in a number of mutual funds and technology stocks years earlier. We also sold a good portion of his individual stock holdings in order to cover the rest of the down payment.

Buying this beach house is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life! Knowing what I know now I would definitely purchase this property all over again despite the fact that I purchased it during the height of the housing market.

For years my husband and I vacationed in a beach house with extended family members, but over the years I’ve learned that I’m the type of girl that needs to spend a certain amount of time alone. Prior to buying our beach house I was on edge for much of my vacations. Now I get to come back to my house and breathe a little.

In addition to better vacations my house has become a place of healing for me. I don’t know what it is about this town and this house, but the minute I step in the door I relax. For years it has been a place where I feel less symptomatic and less stressed.

Being sick put a lot of strain on my marriage and I think buying and owning this beach house helped my husband and I look forward to something positive together. When things were really bad we would plan weekend trips to the beach where we could be alone, on vacation together and when my health was really at it’s worst it helped to look forward to our trips to North Carolina.

In a nutshell I couldn’t imagine my life without this house. If I had to do it all over again I would definitely sign on the dotted line.

September 3, 2010 at 7:10 PM 3 comments

Replace versus Repair: How Do You Decide What to Do?

When we bought our beach house in North Carolina it was ready to move into. The contracted sale included not only typical conveyance items like kitchen equipment and appliances and window treatments but also everything else that was already in the house including dishes, pots and pans, wall hangings and furniture.

Over the years we’ve replaced many of the original items. In fact we replaced all of the kitchen appliance, including the the stove, refrigerator and lastly the dishwasher. We’ve also donated or discarded the couches, side tables, kitchen chairs, coffee tables and dressers.

Every time we’re about to discard something I take a second look to see if there’s any possible way to repair it first. My husband had great success sanding and refinishing the large wooden table in our dining room, but we did buy new chairs after realizing that the old ones were too rickety and unstable for us to fix.

This spring I noticed that the wooden counter height stools in the house were in need of repair. Over the years they’ve cracked, chipped and stained. They originally looked similar to the photo below.

I thought about replacing them with new ones and drooled over the dining room selections I found online, but rather than jumping the gun and pulling out my credit card I decided instead to try my hand at making them look more presentable myself first. I found a new, but never before used can of blue paint in the garage and decided to give them a coat.

I wish I had a photo for you. At first glance the stools looked great. They weren’t perfect, not by any means, but they were bright and colorful and most definitely improved from their previous state. I coated the stools with a thin layer of polyurethane, waited for them to dry and placed them next to the counter. Unfortunately, though I can’t seem to get the blue paint from rubbing off. Every time I place a wet towel on the chair, (which is typical behavior in a beach house), the paint comes off.

So now I’m reconsidering my options and looking at buying new ones again. The current stools don’t have backs so they aren’t at all comfortable anyway. I even picked out a new stool design that I absolutely fell in love with.

I really enjoyed working on this project even though I failed. It probably helped that I took the stools out on the driveway and painted on warm summer days with cool North Carolina breezes.

June 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM 1 comment

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