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Top tips for renting out the perfect holiday villa

Investing in a foreign property is a great way for expats to earn a little bit of extra income while also acting as a home away from home if you have to stay abroad for a few months.

Written by Peter Jenkins on 1 February 2019

Finding the best property abroad is no easy task, so expert in luxury villas Peter Jenkins, owner and founder of Sun-hat Villas & Resorts, has given his advice on how to purchase and maintain a five-star rental.

Finding the perfect location

Location is one of the most important factors for a villa – it can be the main decision maker on your property’s success. On average, villa owners rent their property for 12 weeks in the year, but a good location opens up the bookings for 25+ weeks, as they provide off-season benefits that will suit all types of customers.

The key thing to remember is your guests probably won’t want to trek for hours to get the daily necessities, like a bottle of water or loaf of bread. When you’re scrolling through the list of available properties, try to look for one with a central location, where local amenities like shops, cafés, sporting facilities and restaurants are in easy walking distance. You also want to look for somewhere that is on, or at least close to, good public transport routes – this way, tourists will be able to get out and explore the surrounding areas.

Getting the right mortgage

Negotiating overseas mortgages can be tricky, especially since many countries in Western Europe have a strong rental culture. To make sure you’re getting the best deal, seek out the help of an independent bank, rather than sticking with the bank that is connected to the developer or agent. An independent bank will be able to apply their expertise and check the legalities of the process as well as carrying out a valuation on your potential property.

Usually, overseas lenders tend to calculate how much an investor can afford by using 30-35 per cent of their total income to cover the cost of the new monthly mortgage and any outstanding charges. These charges could be, existing mortgages, credit card balances, car loans or school fees. Your total income usually comes from your employment, pension or investments, but sadly, many lenders do not take into account any existing rental incomes – unless you have multiple properties.

Choose the best property

When deciding which property to invest in from your shortlist, you want to look for something that typically photographs well, will be appealing to potential customers, and generally has a ‘wow’ factor. Any property with interesting architectural features, a beautiful landscaped garden or stunning views is worth the investment.

If you’re hoping to target families as your main customer audience, you will need to look for a four or five-bedroom property so it has enough space for all guests. Generally, more rooms are better as you can advertise your property for larger families or group bookings where two families split the rental cost between them. If you find that you are drawing in a lot of interest from smaller families, you can always lock and restrict access to certain rooms like the garage or smaller bedrooms. These rooms are then open to you to use as storage for things such as extra furniture, seasonal decorations or cleaning supplies.

Decorating for luxury

When you’re renting out a luxury villa, the important thing to remember is that your customers expect quality. When your guests arrive they should be greeted with high standards from every angle, from the furnishings and fittings, to the bed linen and toiletries in the cupboards.

Remember to have professional photographs of your standout features, including the pool, outdoor dining area, garden and view. This will help your property standout against the other listings.

Take a relaxing dip

For most holidaymakers, swimming is high up on the to-do list of their holiday, so don’t limit the fun to summer guests – invest in a pool heater and open up the opportunity for a dip all year round. A heated pool will allow you, and other investors alike, to extend their booking season beyond the standard June to August, and into the shoulder months of April, May, September and October.

While an electric heater does tend to cost less than the gas alternative, the savvy investor will use a pool cover to keep the efficiency high. Some owners even choose to offer a heated pool as an added extra to cover the running charges.

Team up or work alone?

Investing in a villa isn’t just about finding the perfect property and decorating with luxurious furnishings – it requires a lot of administration work in the background to keep it running smoothly. Getting regular visitors can be a huge challenge, one that many villa owners find daunting. Renting out your property independently means taking responsibility for everything, from maintenance to advertising – some may enjoy this as a challenging hobby – but others prefer the freedom of passing on the work.

Working with a professional villa rental company does not mean that you relinquish all control over the property, but it does mean you can draw on the expertise and experience from the specialists. The rental company will be able to be your port of call whenever you have any questions or even need a quick fix for a broken appliance. They can also offer you insider knowledge on peak booking times and advise you on your marketing strategies throughout the year.

Respecting the area

Once you have purchased your property, it is important to remember that the culture and society around you may be different from anything you’ve experienced before. It may take some time getting used to a cultural change, but you should always be willing to learn and adapt where you need to – you should advise your guests on this too.

Even though many countries in Europe speak English as their second or third language, you should always make an effort to learn at least the basics in the local tongue. Depending on how long you’re planning to stay in the property yourself, you may choose to take an in-depth course, or just commit a few common phrases to memory. Learning a language can be difficult, especially when you need to work on other things, but there are plenty of guides online to help understand how and what you should learn.

Understanding the local culture and way of working can help show those around you that you respect them and their country. Some countries have strict rules on such things as what can and cannot be worn, how people should act, and what can be done on a premises. Before moving in, or accepting your first set of guests, do your research so you know you won’t upset or offend someone. You may even want to write a short guide or ‘cheat sheet’ for your customers so they are also prepared.