Kinney’s Corner: Have fun with your property, even if you are not there
Occasionally I have a buyer looking in different areas to determine where they want to spend their leisure time. Summit County is usually the winner with the incredible variety of skiing in the winter and an abundance of natural and planned activities in the summer. For the same reasons, Summit County properties are very attractive for home exchanges. Do you occasionally want to ski someplace else, spend time at the beach or abroad? For little or no monetary outlay? It may be easier than you think.
1. Subscribe to a website dedicated to home exchanges. You may receive attractive offers from owners in interesting areas that you may not have otherwise considered. One popular website is http://www.homeexchange.com. 2. If you have a destination in mind, don’t wait for offers. Contact owners of properties that fit your needs on home exchange and vacation rental websites. http://www.vrbo.com is just one website dedicated to vacation rentals. Many of these owners are excited about exploring other areas. 3. Timing is everything. You may have more success in arranging an exchange if you are willing to use the property at a good time for the owner. Fill in a gap in their rentals. Avoid holidays if possible. Vacation rentals and second homes do not typically require simultaneous visits which eliminates the difficulty of coordinating schedules. The website will usually indicate whether this is a primary residence or second home.4. Read the owner profiles. I have met some really interesting people by home exchanging, online and in person. I am cautious as everyone should be, but credible profiles on the website are very helpful and quite interesting. There should also be information about the makeup of the party staying in your property. How many people, ages, pets, etc. 5. Check out the neighborhood. If it is a substantial commute to your points of interest, you might want to keep looking. In some areas you may be more comfortable with a gated community or access to golf, restaurants, shopping. The website should have detailed information about the location and amenities. If that information is missing, it might not be an attractive getaway.6. Preferred Destinations. You should be able to determine whether an owner is open to exploring different areas or if they only want to go to the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque. If you see they want Aspen, chances are they may be interested in Summit County too. Read between the lines. Be careful not to limit your preferred destinations in your posting if you are open to ideas so you won’t be passed over. 7. Property Description. Are there are key photos missing? The main living area, kitchen and master should be submitted. Do the furnishings appear to show pride of ownership? If it is cluttered in a photo, that may be the tip of the iceberg. If it doesn’t appear clean and crisp in the photos, it won’t be in person. The absence of reviews may not be significant if the owner doesn’t request them. A negative review is worth taking seriously. 8. Check with your management company. If they do not allow you to rent your property on your own, ask them about their policy for home exchanges. Many consider these visits to be a “friend of the owner” since no money changes hands. They may arrange check in/out and cleaning for a reasonable fee. 8. Determine the cleaning policy. Be sure it is clear who is responsible for cleaning fees. If they are expected to clean it, make a checklist to be sure they know exactly what is expected of them and to avoid any items overlooked with the best of intentions. 9. Smoking, occupancy and pet policies. Be sure you know what you are walking into and what is walking into your place. Make it clear what is acceptable including the number of occupants. 10. Follow up with the owner. If you are proud of an area and your property, isn’t it great to hear from your guest? Don’t leave the owner wondering if you had a good time or if you were pleased with the property. If there are issues that the owner may want to know about, tell them! If they don’t live in the area, you are their eyes. It doesn’t have to be negative, just helpful. Common courtesy and communication goes a long way if you are interested in returning.
I have a vacation rental in Durango that I rarely get to enjoy. Let me rephrase that. I haven’t been able to enjoy it in Durango, but I have enjoyed it many times over by the doors it opened.I have exchanged this small studio for a fabulous home in Sedona, Ariz., a cabin in the north Georgia mountains, a beach-front townhome in Beaufort, S.C., a B&B retreat in Estes Park and I am planning a trip to Chicago where I will stay in an incredible three-bedroom penthouse by the “Magnificent Mile.” The owners of these elegant properties were not necessarily seeking an “even” exchange, although that is usually the goal. It’s just a fun and economical way to explore different areas that you may not normally seek out.I am often asked why I don’t sell my little Durango studio since I haven’t been there in years. I receive modest income, but mostly I have discovered that it has actually enriched my life and created opportunities. Try that with your stock certificate. Marsha Kinney is a 20-year real estate veteran in Summit County. She is the owner/broker of the Metro Brokers office at the corner of 5th Street and Highway 9 in Silverthorne. Visit http://www.Summit-Info.com, call (970) 390-0175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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