3 Must-Dos When Buying a Vacation Rental House

The Lookout in Palm Springs was designed by local architect, Thomas Jakway in 2007.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY VACASA

Greater Palm Springs has been a popular vacation destination for nearly a century. Whether visiting for two nights or staying long term, some travelers enjoy the services of staying in a hotel, while others prefer the comfort and privacy of a vacation rental home.

Both hotels and vacation rentals have always been a desirable and important part of the local tourism ecosystem. And during the pandemic, many travelers have discovered vacation rentals for the first time, and they are visiting “drive markets” like Palm Springs in higher numbers, which helped many of the local retail and hospitality businesses survive.

At Vacasa, North America’s leading vacation rental management platform, I’m part of a team that helps homeowners throughout the entire vacation rental process, from finding the right home, to permitting, marketing, and ultimately managing it as a rental.

I recently received a call from someone in Seattle who is considering investing in a future retirement home in Palm Springs. They want to use it as a vacation home until they retire, which is common among second homeowners. To help offset expenses and earn ancillary income, they are considering renting it to other vacationers when they are not using it.

They were relatively unfamiliar with Palm Springs, from both a real estate investment and a vacation rental perspective, so we chatted for over an hour about their plans and goals, and I referred them to a local realtor.

They were grateful for the conversation, and felt more empowered to conduct an informed property search. They also suggested I find a way to share this information with others like them, so here are my answers to a few of the most frequent questions I receive from prospective buyers.

I’m thinking about buying a second home in Palm Springs and renting it out when I’m not using it. Where do I start?

I recommend building a vacation rental search team that includes: 1) a local realtor who is familiar with the area you’re looking in and can guide you through the purchase process, especially in this highly competitive seller’s market; 2) a local vacation rental market expert who has experience managing rentals and guiding buyers to properties that not only fit their own needs, but also have the potential to be successful rentals; and 3) a knowledgeable mortgage broker who can pre-qualify you for financing and move quickly when you’ve identified a property you want to make an offer on. Inventory is tight right now, so being prepared to make a strong offer and negotiate within your means is important. We have a vast roster of licensed realtors available through Vacasa’s Expert Agent Network and tools on our website to help buyers make an informed investment.

What are the advantages of owning a vacation rental home?

There are many advantages, including: earning revenue to help offset your expenses;

having your own place to escape to that’s set up exactly how you like it (you’ll be surprised by how many friends and family you suddenly have when they find out you own a vacation home in Palm Springs); and, if you hire a professional manager, having a local team looking after the property for you. Between the rental guests, manager, cleaners and you, there will be many eyes on the property regularly, which is preferable to the property sitting unoccupied for long periods of time. Many homeowners who live remotely don’t have the ability to deal with day-to-day property management, so by partnering with a local professional manager, they are assured of being in compliance with local rules and being a good neighbor. Also, there are potential tax benefits to renting out your vacation home, as you may be able to write off some of your expenses, including management and maintenance costs. As always, you should consult your tax advisor regarding your specific situation and options.

What is the best path to finding the right home that might make a successful vacation rental?

Think about what’s important to you in a vacation home, such as what part of town you prefer, and how many bedrooms you’ll need for you and your family or friends. Then factor in your budget, and what amenities vacation rentals guests are looking for. In Palm Springs, a heated pool is a must and a spa is highly desirable. And being walking distance to popular attractions is a big plus. Then start looking at candidate properties you and your realtor identify, and ask your vacation rental manager for feedback on properties at the top of your list. Between your realtor and rental manager, they can help guide you to a property that best meets your needs and revenue goals, and is also marketable to vacationers.

Kenny Cassady has lived in Palm Springs for 20 years. He is a member of the board of directors of Vacation Rental Owners & Neighbors of Palm Springs (VRON-PS), and the Palm Springs and Idyllwild market expert for Vacasa, North America’s leading vacation rental management platform. You can reach Kenny at [email protected]

3 Must-Dos When Buying a Vacation Rental House at Palm Springs Life –

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