Why You Should Vacation at Your Place without Using the Owner's Closet

Sure, you might like to live in your vacation home full time, spending your days gazing at the ocean from your porch, and walking along the beach looking for shells in your spare time. But most of us aren’t quite ready for that, because somebody has to work to afford that second home.

This is where renters come in. Renting out your vacation property can help pay for it, and renting it out consistently is even better. To keep the renters coming back -- and referring their friends -- you’ll want to do everything you can to make your home a welcoming oasis.

Once a year, go for a visit and vacation like a renter. Bring only what's recommended in your rental home and pledge not to use the owner’s closet, and see how it feels. You’ll learn quickly what you need to buy or replace in the kitchen. And how annoying it is when there’s no toilet paper. (Even if you expect your guests to provide their own replacement, you should make sure each bathroom has a roll when they get there.) You’ll know which pillows and blankets need replacing, and which bedroom could use another luggage rack.

Imagine you’re arriving with no knowledge of the area. What do you want to know? If you head straight to the farmers’ market when you arrive -- the one that’s only open Thursday through Sunday -- leave a laminated note on the fridge or in a binder explaining why you like it, and how to get there. Imagine your home is like a hotel, and leave lists of favorite local restaurants, places nearby that are worth a day trip, and anything else your guests might enjoy. You bought your home in that area for a reason; let them know what you love about it.

Your vacation haven is an investment property, and renting it out makes it easier to pay the mortgage. As much as you enjoy going there, your second home is a business, and you should treat it like one. At least, until it’s time to go sit on the porch and look at the sunset, which you’ll enjoy even more knowing that the home is rented through the end of the season.