11 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Investing in Vacation Rentals: Save Money & Hassle

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11 Mistakes to Avoid When Investing in Vacation Homes

Investing in vacation rentals can be easy, fun, and lucrative as long as you know what mistakes to avoid. Unfortunately, many people who are just getting started on Airbnb don’t know how much money and stress they can save with proper research, careful budgeting, and risk management.

As an investor looking into short-term rentals, understanding the common pitfalls of short-term rental investments can keep you on track to earn money. This article will explore some of the most frequent errors investors make so you can make smarter decisions. Don’t find out the hard way! Learn from the experiences of seasoned investors instead.

Not Doing Proper Research

Vacation rentals are a good investment as long as you do thorough research before making a financial commitment. That includes looking into the location, market conditions, the cost of maintaining prospective properties, and local regulations on short-term rentals.

This information will help you make an informed decision and avoid costly mistakes. Do not fall into the trap of jumping into an investment without doing proper research.

How to Research Location

Before investing in a vacation rental property, research the surrounding area. Look for the following amenities.

  • Nearby tourist attractions
  • Businesses & employers that appeal to corporate travelers
  • Entertainment venues
  • Public transportation
  • Restaurants & nightlife

If the property is located in an area that’s not popular with tourists or doesn’t have convenient access to local attractions, it may struggle to attract renters. Your rental income is directly tied to your occupancy rates. Rentals for sale in the top short-term rental markets may cost more, but they may also pay off better down the line.

Property Condition

Getting a home inspection is an essential step when buying any type of property, including short-term rental investment properties. A home inspection can reveal hidden issues that could end up costing the buyer thousands of dollars in repairs down the line.

In the case of a short-term rental investment property, these issues could not only be costly but also affect the profitability of the property. For example, if the property has a leaky roof, it may not be safe for renters to stay there, leading to lost income and a damaged reputation. By getting a home inspection before purchasing a short-term rental investment property, buyers can ensure that they are making a sound investment and avoid any surprises that could negatively impact their returns.

You should also personally inspect the condition of any prospective properties thoroughly before committing. You should thoroughly check the entire building and never buy a vacation property sight unseen, even if you’ve gotten a professional inspection.

Only purchase a property that needs repairs within your budget, which will help you avoid incurring unexpected costs after closing.

Market Analysis

Understanding the demand for short-term rentals in your desired area is important. You should do a thorough market analysis before committing to a property.

Most importantly, you should investigate the average nightly rates competitors charge at different times of the year. Doing so will help you determine if this investment will make money and provide a stable income.

Local Regulations

Lastly, be aware of any local laws and ordinances regarding short-term rentals. Some local governments have begun to outlaw Airbnb and VRBO rental properties. Or they may require special permits for vacation home rentals. Understanding the regulations will ensure you purchase a property in a location favorable to investors.

Underestimating the Costs of Operating a Rental Business

Many investors underestimate the costs of owning and managing a rental property, leading to financial losses. There are many types of costs associated with vacation home rentals, and you’ll never make a profit if your rental income doesn’t exceed these expenses.

Upfront Costs

Before you even begin renting out your property, upfront costs, such as the following, need to be considered.

  • Closing costs
  • Inspection fees
  • Legal fees
  • Renovations or upgrades, as necessary.

All of these fees are due at the time of your purchase, and you should plan them for your budget. In addition, if you intend to offer a fully furnished unit, you must also budget for the furnishings.

Maintenance & Repairs

As an owner of a rental property, you will need to budget for regular maintenance and repairs. These will naturally occur due to wear and tear from tenants or unexpected damages caused by natural disasters or other emergencies. These expenses can add up quickly, so you should set aside money every month for this purpose.

Insurance & Taxes

Never overlook property taxes, which vary depending on your investment location. Always consider the taxes on vacation rental income. Not properly filing your taxes can cause all sorts of costly legal problems. Doing things right the first time is better than correcting them later.

Additionally, insurance coverage is essential in protecting yourself against potential liability. Many locations also require liability insurance. So, to begin renting your vacation home, you must have the proper insurance coverage. This cost is not one you can ignore.


Vacancy rates tend to fluctuate throughout the year based on seasonal demand for vacation rentals. Always research the demand in your area in each season before making an investment decision. Understanding how the rental market fluctuates can help you better estimate how much income you will receive. You can then plan for the loss of income from long stretches without tenants occupying your unit(s).

Failing To Account for Risk Factors

Investing in vacation rental properties can be a great way to generate passive income, but you must understand the risks associated with such investments. You will especially want to plan ahead for the following hazards.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters and other emergencies can be an unfortunate reality for some investors. The most common natural disasters include the following.

  • Hurricanes
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Fires

Natural disasters can cause significant damage to your property or render it uninhabitable for an extended period, leading to financial losses if you do not prepare properly. You can offset the risk by purchasing additional home insurance packages that cover disasters and making an emergency plan for securing your home in the event of dangerous weather.

Unforeseen Costs

Unforeseen expenses and liabilities are another risk factor of vacation rentals. Unexpected repairs or maintenance costs may arise due to wear and tear on the property. Tenant negligence or abuse of the premises can also necessitate costly repairs.

Although tenants may sometimes be held responsible for the cost of damage, you should avoid assuming that this will be the case. Setting aside a savings account will reduce the financial setbacks or lost income from unexpected damage while you wait for compensation from the responsible party.

Guest Issues

Finally, guest issues and disputes can lead to financial losses if handled improperly. Tenants who do not pay on time or breach their rental agreement can cause costly legal fees and lost revenue.

Non-payment from tenants affects short-term investors just as much as long-term rental owners. However, by working with a reputable vacation rental platform like Airbnb or VRBO, hosts can significantly reduce this risk.

These platforms have systems in place to ensure that guests pay for their stay before they arrive, and they also offer protections for hosts in the event of cancellations or disputes. Additionally, these platforms often require guests to provide a deposit, which can be used to cover any damages or unpaid fees. By using a reputable vacation rental platform, hosts can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their rental income is protected and can focus on providing their guests with an exceptional experience.

Buy With Confidence: Avoid These Vacation Home Mistakes!

Knowing what not to do is essential if you’re learning how to buy a vacation rental. However, you must research and understand the risks before making any decisions. Use this article to ensure you avoid the most common mistakes people make when buying vacation rental properties.