Vacation Property Investment: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

So, you are looking to invest in real estate, and you have set your eyes on short-term vacation rentals? Well, that is a great decision if you want to capitalize on the booming industry. With vacation property investment, you can generate a reliable stream of passive income with minimal effort. Here is a guide to help you get started.

Choosing a Location

When you invest in vacation rental property, you have to make sure you are buying in a good location. Because vacationers are looking for a desirable vacation spot, the location is one of the most important factors that will determine whether your vacation rental property will be profitable or not.

When doing your research, look for travel hot spots with a large tourist population and plenty of attractions. Also, take into consideration the property’s proximity to public transportation and major highways, as these will be important factors in attracting vacationers.

Financing Your Vacation Home Investment

In terms of vacation property investment, you have several financing options to choose from. Here are the best mortgage products that you can use to purchase short-term rentals.

1. Conventional Mortgage Loan

This would be the most common choice for vacation property investment. With this type of loan, you can borrow up to 80% of the purchase price, and you will have to put down at least 20%. Note that interest rates on vacation rental property loans are typically higher than those on primary residence mortgages.

2. Portfolio Loan

This type of loan is for investors who are looking for a vacation rental investment property but do not have enough cash to make a down payment or afford the closing costs. A portfolio loan allows you to use your existing investments as collateral so that you can get a mortgage without putting any money down.

3. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

If you have an existing property and want to use its equity to finance a vacation rental property, a HELOC is the way to go. This type of loan will allow you to borrow up to 85% of your home’s value and use it as collateral for the vacation property investment.

4. Government-Backed Mortgage Loans

The government also offers vacation rental mortgage loans, such as the VA and FHA loan programs. These types of mortgages are ideal for vacation home investment because they require only a smaller down payment and feature low interest rates.

However, these types of loans can come with mortgage insurance premiums, so you should do your research before committing to one.

5. DSCR Loans

If you need to borrow the full amount of your vacation rental property investment, a debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR) loan is an option. This type of loan requires that your rental income covers a certain percentage of the mortgage payment, which can make it difficult to qualify for, but also gives you access to more favorable terms and interest rates.

You can even use this loan to purchase multiple properties.

6. Full Doc Loans

These types of loans require you to provide detailed documentation of your income, assets, and credit history. Full-doc vacation rental mortgages are ideal for investors with good credit who want access to the lowest possible interest rates.

When choosing a mortgage product for your investment, it is important to speak with your lender about the details of the loan and ask any questions you may have. This way, you can be sure you are making the right financial decision for your vacation rental investment.

Buying a Vacation Rental Property

Like buying any other type of real estate, buying a vacation rental property also entails a certain set of factors to consider.

Type of Property

This would hinge on where you want to invest. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from any of the following vacation property investment options.

Beach Houses

These vacation homes are perfect for families and those looking to relax near the shoreline and enjoy its water activities.

Mountain Cabins

For those who are looking for a peaceful escape away from the hustle and bustle of city life, mountain cabins should be at the top of their list for accommodation.

Condo Hotels

These types of properties are ideal for vacationers who want luxury amenities without having to worry about maintenance.


These are perfect for vacationers who want the convenience of a hotel but with more privacy and space.


Again, you should choose a neighborhood that is within a popular vacation spot. This will ensure that you will be able to receive guests regularly and at a good rental rate.

It is also important to invest in a place with low crime rates and good access to amenities, such as restaurants and attractions. After all, safety and convenience are two important factors vacationers consider when booking accommodation.

Condition of the Property

Of course, you would want to purchase a vacation rental that is in great condition. So, make sure to do a thorough inspection of the property before making an offer.

It would also be wise to have a home warranty policy in place, just in case something goes wrong down the line. This way, you can rest assured that any repairs or maintenance costs are covered.

Cap Rate

If you are buying an existing vacation rental property, it is important to find out how much income it has been generating. One way to do this is by determining its capitalization rate (cap rate). This is a metric that gives you an indication of how much returns it will provide you when you own it.

To calculate the cap rate, divide the net operating income (NOI) by the total purchase price (TP). A higher cap rate means that more of your expenses are being offset by rental income and vice versa.

Take this scenario as an example:

NOI: $50,000

TP: $500,000

Cap Rate = NOI / TP

= 50,000/500,000

= 10%

So, in this case, the vacation rental property has a cap rate of 10%. This is considered to be a good cap rate for vacation rental properties.

The Price

Last but not least, you will also need to consider the price when investing in a vacation home. You should aim to find a property that fits within your budget and offers you a good return on investment (ROI).

For vacation rental properties, ROI is typically calculated based on cash flow minus expenses. This means that if your total income from vacation rentals is higher than your total expenses, then you have a positive cash flow.

If the property you are buying checks off all the above points, it might be an ideal option!

Marketing Your Vacation Rental

marketing a vacation rental property

 Vacation home investment does not end with the purchase. You still have to market it to start making money.

To do this, you need to develop a vacation rental business plan that outlines how you will spread awareness about your vacation home, what type of bookings you want to attract, and how much you want to charge for daily rentals. You also need to figure out what amenities or services you can offer that will draw in more guests to your place.

To maximize your profits, look into ways to automate your vacation rental. With the right software, you can streamline bookings and payments, set up dynamic pricing, and even manage housekeeping services remotely.

Moreover, you can also list your property on vacation rental platforms, like Airbnb, HomeAway, and Vrbo, to get more exposure. You can also take advantage of digital marketing tactics, such as content marketing and social media advertising, to reach your target audience.

Finally, research vacation rental regulations in your area to ensure that you are compliant with local laws. This is especially important for properties located in popular tourist destinations, as there may be specific zoning requirements or restrictions on how many guests can occupy a property at one time.

Self-Management vs. Hiring a Property Manager

Whether you decide to manage your vacation rental yourself or hire a property manager is entirely up to you. However, there are pros and cons to both options.

Managing a vacation rental on your own can be time-consuming, as you need to respond to inquiries from potential guests, coordinate bookings and cleaning services, and handle maintenance requests.

On the other hand, hiring a vacation rental property manager eliminates the majority of these tasks. The downside is that this can be costly. You can expect to pay 10% or more of your vacation rental income in management fees.

But if you have the time and want to be hands-on with your investment, self-management is the way to go. What’s more, it gives you the opportunity to meet and make connections with new interesting people, as well as even enjoy the destination yourself during your free hours!

So, weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision!

Also Read : 6 Things You Should Look For When Choosing Accommodation Noosa


Without a doubt, vacation property investment is one of the best ways to make money in real estate, build wealth, and achieve ultimate financial freedom. However, just like any other venture, it also comes with risks, such as fluctuating tourism trends, changes in regulations and taxes, or a rise in the crime rate in your chosen destination.

But with proper research and some due diligence, vacation rental investment can be a rewarding and profitable endeavor. So, start researching and planning your business today.

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