Before buying a property abroad with the idea of renting it out, it is a good idea to think about the appeal it will have and to think of your target market. This is particularly true if you intend to use the property for part of the year yourself. In the UK we often refer to the kerb appeal of a property and this is equally true in whatever country you buy. Here are a few pointers which may help you to decide either where to buy or who to target for rental income.

The individual property and its location can affect the letting potential of that property. A beautiful property in a rundown area may not have the appeal of a simpler property in a stunning location. Bear this in mind if you haven’t bought yet. Clever photos may show the property in a good light but remember people use Google Street View to look at locations even if they can’t find an individual property. Before buying take a look around the local area. If buying on a “Resort”, take a look around to see where the best locations seem to be. This is where your property agent should be able to advise you.

Amenities are often what attract people or in some cases lack of them!! Many people want peace and quiet yet want to walk to bars and restaurants in the evening. If you buy in a more rural location or more isolated area then you cut down your potential rental income. It may suit you but for example families may want to be nearer to civilisation!

People’s expectation of a rental property are high. If you own or are about to buy a villa, unless it is very near to a beach people will expect a private pool. Often several families may club together to rent a larger villa and children love pools! With an apartment a communal pool will be sufficient.

Furnishings need to be of a high standard (this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive) and modern.There are fewer people looking to rent a property with traditional furnishings. Whatever style you choose, keep things simple and practical as they will get hard wear. Remember not to make the surroundings too personal to you. People don’t want to live in
 your house. This is where a store-room or garage is useful so that when you are in residence you may want more ornaments etc on display but pack them away for your rental clients.

Well-equipped kitchens may not seem important but do not think that most meals will be “eaten out”. Families in particular those with young children may want to do their own catering so that food choices, bed-times etc can be catered for. Washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, coffee makers are often high up on people’s expectation and considered as standard. Internet connection is becoming more important as many people rely on it for their business and don’t switch off on holiday! Families with teenagers may feel Internet connection is essential so their off-spring can keep in touch with home!

Decoration and maintenance of your property are important. Interior decoration needs to be neutral and well-maintained.It goes without saying the cleanliness of the property, bedding, towels etc is vital. This is where a reputable letting agency takes the hard work and worry away from you. If, for example, you are going to be letting out an apartment, exterior building maintenance should be included in your community fees. If not, finding a reliable local builder and decorator would seem a wise move. First impressions count for a lot. If you want repeat lettings then you need to make sure you make a good impression.

To take advantage of the high letting season –  school holidays, summer, Christmas and Easter will give the largest returns. There is a second high season if you buy on a golf resort as the winter months are popular with golfers who want to escape the cold weather in the UK and, for example, Scandinavia.

Long-term contractual letting is a different proposition. Your target market will usually be local people so there will no longer be a high and low season, just a continual income. A property near to towns and cities or even in them will provide your market. People need places to live and if you make your property attractive they will choose it over other properties available.

For many people having your own holiday home is all about having somewhere to relax and if you can make a return on it this is an added bonus .For investors, having a return on your property was the reason for buying in the first place so head usually rules heart .When buying a property, try to put yourself in the place of the people who will be renting. Put aside your personal preferences (unless you don’t intend to let out your property!) try to imagine to whom the property would appeal and market it appropriately. Here is where a property rental agency can give you help not only advertising your property but dealing with change-over days.

If you are just going to rent out on an ad hoc basis with friends and family make it clear what is included in the price so that at the very least you cover the running costs of your property rather than just providing a cheap holiday. For example in the height of summer, air-conditioning will be an added cost and can mount up. British people still tend to throw open all the windows
 and put on the air con! If you need rental income to service a mortgage etc to allow you to purchase in the first place then you will need to think about just reducing by a small amount the price you charge them particularly with high-season lettings. 

Whatever your reason for renting out your property be clear in your own mind what you expect. Take independent specialist help and advice to give you peace of mind. Don’t forget any income return you make will need to be declared for tax purposes.

Keith Pintointernational

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