best of suffolk Letting Guides
Looking to buy a holiday cottage? Our guide to making the right purchase
Buying a holiday cottage is a dream for many people and can be both an investment and a luxury for you and your family. Whatever your reason for buying a holiday home, there are several things to consider.
What are your reasons for buying a holiday cottage?
The reasons behind considering a holiday cottage will help determine the location and property chosen. Think about whether the property is purely for you and your family to enjoy or whether you intend to rent it out to paying clients. Decide whether your use or rental income is the priority.
Buying a holiday cottage for investment purposes
A holiday home can be a brilliant investment and generate a good profit for you, as long as you do your research and choose a property that suits your target market.
Before beginning your property search, decide on your budget and target market. Would you like a large property that attracts families and groups or a small romantic bolt hole for couples? Also, consider the features you would like your property to have, such as a countryside or sea view, swimming pool or hot tub, or perhaps cosy log fires and character features. Having a property that is pet friendly can also generate additional income.
It is advisable to consider transport links and local amenities and consider whether the property will be desirable throughout the seasons.
Potential owners should also be aware of the potential costs of a holiday let. Using an agency to manage your holiday home will incur commission fees and lower your overall profit. Still, if you manage the property yourself, you will need to have the time available to do this. Calculate your potential incomings and outgoings to make sure that the holiday cottage will actually make a profit.
Thinking ahead, consider house prices and what your property’s resale value may be. If the property is in an area that is due to have improvements made to transport links or new amenities built, this will help improve the resale value in the future. Look at current trends in the property market and find out which locations are becoming popular.
Once you have a shortlist of properties, consider additional costs such as renovation and decoration.
Location, location, location
Choosing the location of your holiday home can be influenced by your personal preferences, but it is important to consider the areas that appeal to holidaymakers. There is a rising popularity in staycations in the UK, despite the unpredictable weather! Before deciding on the location, do your research, or ask our experts as we have the inside scoop on the best locations and current trends. Certain areas in the UK have restrictions on buying second homes, and it is advisable to look at the competition. If you buy a property in a great prime tourist location, remember that multiple competing properties could surround you.
Holiday cottage essential equipment
When considering which holiday cottage to buy, think about what your guests will expect and enjoy. At a minimum, you should have modern appliances, a good internet connection, hot water, and heating. If you do not have these essentials, you will need to invest in them before renting the property.
Here at Best of Suffolk, our holiday cottages include luxury items as standard, such as high-quality bedding and soft fluffy towels, just to add that little bit of luxury. To maximise its earning potential, your property should be dressed with quality furnishings.
Also, consider the surroundings of your holiday home. Guests may not wish to be in an isolated location or in a property that suffers from noise or other issues. The ideal situation would be a property with parking that is also close to a convenience store. Local pubs, restaurants and other shops are all a bonus too!
If you intend for your holiday home to attract families, consider properties with their own garden or are close to outdoor space or playgrounds. Having an outdoor space is useful for outdoor dining during the summer, and if the area is secure, it will appeal to pet owners.
You will also need to equip your holiday home with specific safety devices, such as smoke/fire alarm, carbon monoxide detectors, first aid kit and fire blanket/extinguisher. There is more information on this in our Holiday Home Health & Safety Guide, or get in touch with our team of experts.
Make it Legal
As with any home purchase, there can be legal implications at any time during the buying process, so make sure you have a reputable solicitor and conveyancer and try to have a budget for unforeseen costs.
You will also need specific landlord insurance, which covers things such as:
- Public liability cover for injury or damage to a guest (usually at least £2m).
- Employers’ liability for people employed at your property, for example, a cleaner.
- Accidental damage by you, the owner, guests, or animals.
- Malicious damage.
- Theft, including theft by guests.
- Loss of income and alternative accommodation fees.
- Holiday homeowners legal expense insurance (to deal with disputes).
You will also be responsible for the health and safety of your guests and will need to make sure that your holiday home meets current regulations. This will include conducting risk assessments, having gas appliances checked and signed off by a Gas Safe engineer and installing fire safety equipment. There is more information on this in our Holiday Home Health & Safety Guide, or get in touch with our team. We’re always more than happy to answer any questions.
Financing your holiday cottage
There are many options to finance your holiday home purchase, and the process can be complicated. Generally, if you are buying a holiday home for mainly your own use, with the occasional rental, the process is more straightforward. In this case, you should be able to use a second home mortgage.
If you are buying your holiday home with the help of a mortgage, make sure that it is a specific mortgage for holiday homes. This is a specialist area of finance, and it is best to seek advice from a mortgage broker because these mortgages are not readily available in high street banks.
Expect that you will need a large deposit (25-35%) for a holiday home mortgage, and interest rates and fees will typically be higher. As a guide, lenders will expect to see proof that you can make a gross income of 125-145% of your mortgage payments. You will also need to have the suitable insurance for the property and its contents. It is important to know that a holiday home mortgage is different to a buy to let mortgage. If you have a property already on a buy to let mortgage and wish to turn it into a holiday home, you will most likely need to remortgage.
As a well-respected holiday letting agency and prominent Suffolk business, we have established links with local accountants and financial advisors who can provide expert advice tailored to the holiday let market. If you would like more advice on selecting and buying a holiday home, please get in touch with us. We have over 15 years of managing and promoting the best luxury holiday cottages.
Owning a holiday let can be profitable and rewarding, however like any business, it will require both your time and effort to make it a success. It can be challenging if you do not live locally to your property, but we are here to help with some tips to help make things easier. Alternatively, Best of Suffolk can manage your Suffolk holiday home on your behalf and if you would like a no obligation conversation to discuss this, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Please read on for more information.
Furnishing your holiday home
Before promoting your holiday home to prospective guests, you will need to furnish it suitably. Some of our top tips include:
- Remember final finishes – choose detail such as soft furnishings and artwork that will photograph well and give an excellent first impression.
- Pick a theme and continue it throughout the property.
- Understand your target market and furnish accordingly. Are you targeting families, couples or people with pets? Think about your target audience and what they would like to see within the property.
- Choose quality fixtures, fittings and furnishings that are easy to clean and maintain.
- Consider first impressions – what will give your property the ‘wow’ factor when guests arrive?
- Do not personalise the property with your own belongings or leave any sentimental items.
- If you are considering allowing pets, you may need to consider certain furnishings and fittings. We can provide further advice on this, should you need it.
Maintenance of your holiday let
It is essential that you keep your holiday home maintained to a high standard both inside and outside. If you cannot do this yourself, it is worth hiring a reputable cleaner, gardener and window cleaner. With regards to a cleaner, make sure that you hire a service that specialises in short term rentals, as they will know how to clean and prepare a property for new guests. Also, make sure that they will change linens as part of their service.
Holiday homes should obviously be cleaned in-between every rental, but if a guest stays for an extended period (more than 10 days), we recommend that an interval clean be carried out.
You will also need to have reliable professionals for other maintenance and repairs, including:
Make sure that these professionals can offer emergency service when necessary.
At Best of Suffolk, we have an extensive list of tried and tested reliable professionals that we can recommend to our property owners. We have a network of proven and experienced local housekeepers and would be delighted to introduce you to a selection from which you can pick your best fit. We also have an in-house maintenance operative who can be on hand for all your maintenance needs, both reactive and planned. If you would like any advice on holiday home maintenance, get in touch with us.
Welcoming your guests
Assuming that you will not be able to welcome every guest that stays in your property personally means that you will need to find a way to ensure they have everything that they need.
The best way to do this is to provide a comprehensive welcome pack that gives all the information they may need. The property’s Wi-Fi code is usually one of the first things your guests will look for, so make sure this is prominent somewhere in the property and on the first page of the welcome pack.
Your welcome pack should also include other information such as:
- Heating System – how to turn on/off and adjust.
- Full address – in case your guests wish to order a delivery.
- Contact numbers – for emergencies and any other relevant local services.
- Details of local amenities and attractions.
- Details of local transport.
- Rubbish bin collection and recycling details.
Best of Suffolk create your welcome folder and through our many years of experience have a list of frequently asked questions by guests which are detailed within it. We can pre-empt the most requested pieces of information and will work with you to create your bespoke welcome folder.
Food essentials and luxuries
Whilst you do not need to provide food for your guests, it can be nice to have some store cupboard basics in place or arrange delivery of essentials such as milk and bread. At Best of Suffolk, we like to give a little extra luxury to our guests, so it is standard practice to include wine and chocolate in our welcome packs!
Going the extra mile
Adding little extras for your guests does not need to cost a lot of money but requires some thought. For example, if you have international guests, consider providing plug adaptors, or if the booking includes children, include some games or toys. It is also a lovely touch to leave a congratulatory card if you know your guests are celebrating something during their stay.
Try to also think of your property and the local area when planning special extras. If the property is within an area popular with walkers, provide some maps of local walks or guides to local wildlife. If your property is in a busy place with lots of bars and restaurants, provide your own guide to what is suitable for all types of diners.
Smart Home Monitoring
There are many devices available that allow you to manage and monitor your property remotely, both for the benefit of your guests and yourself.
Smart heating and thermostats – Being able to manage your heating remotely can ensure that your holiday home is warm and inviting for your guests. This can also be useful in winter months to prevent pipes freezing or damp problems.
Sensors – There are a variety of home sensors available including, flood sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Security – Several devices can be used to monitor your property when it is empty, including security cameras, smart doorbells, lighting, and motion sensors. We would not recommend cameras for holiday homes due to privacy laws, and if you install a video doorbell, you will need to advise your guests of this.
Party prevention – Many holiday homeowners worry about a guest hosting a large party and damaging their property. At Best of Suffolk, we do not allow parties and make this clear to guests on your behalf at the time of booking. If you are managing your own property, a video doorbell can help to monitor the number of visitors. There are also other devices that can notify you in the case of excessive noise or multiple mobile devices within your property.
At Best of Suffolk we like to do our bit for the environment, so thinking green will not only help the planet, but it will also please your customers. With a growing consumer trend in wanting environmentally sensitive properties and products, replacing single-use toiletries, installing eco-heat sources and smart heating will help to create a USP your guests are looking for.”
Self-Management or using an agency?
There are several advantages to managing your holiday home yourself, but there are also some disadvantages. To help you decide what suits you and your property, we have tried to explain both sides of the argument.
By self-managing your holiday property, you obviously have full control over who stays in it and can choose when you use the property yourself. However, unless you are experienced in the holiday rental industry, you may miss out on lucrative bookings because you’ve reserved yourself a break during peak times, or you’ve rejected a guest that you were unable to ‘screen’ to your satisfaction. An agency such as Best of Suffolk can provide advice on the most popular holiday times for maximum income and have many years’ experience of screening guests effectively.
Managing your property also means (in theory!) that you keep 100% of the rental income after tax and expenses. However, you should bear in mind that agencies will also pay to market your property on your behalf and be able to secure higher-value bookings, thanks to their reputation of years of trading and high scores on independent review websites. How would you achieve the same if you were self-letting? Also, don’t forget that if you choose to list on OTAs (Online Travel Agents) such as Airbnb or Booking.com, you will need to pay them commission on bookings. Furthermore, these agents simply market your property and do not help with any guest liaison, unlike a local agency such as Best of Suffolk.
If you’re new to letting a holiday home, it can be a steep learning curve, and you will probably make mistakes while gaining experience. Unfortunately, these mistakes can be costly! There are also more and more holiday rentals entering the marketplace every year, so you will need to be appraised of the competition and make sure that your property stands out.
Many holiday homeowners manage their own properties because they want to be able to react quickly to market changes and offer discounts or special deals. Whilst this can help to secure some last-minute bookings, an experienced agency like Best of Suffolk will have their finger on the pulse and may be able to anticipate market changes earlier.
Marketing and advertising a holiday let has a significant outlay, and with online travel agents (OTAs) such as Airbnb and Booking.com it’s easier than ever to advertise your property online. You may also wish to consider building and maintaining a website and perhaps some social media or pay per click (PPC) advertising. There is also no limit to how many marketing channels or OTAs you use, although this does not guarantee a steady stream of bookings and could end up costing more than just using one quality agency that not only advertises but also manages your property.
One of the biggest ‘cons’ of managing your own holiday cottage is the amount of time it will take. Looking after your holiday home will take up a lot of your time; a recent survey found that holiday rental owners spend 9 hours a week just managing marketing and booking enquiries alone. In addition to the significant amount of administration work involved with a holiday let, you will also have to make time for greeting guests, dealing with requests, cleaning, changeovers between rentals, continual maintenance, and any other emergencies.
Furthermore, unless you live near your holiday home, it will not be practical for you to regularly visit the property. This may cause problems if there is an emergency and you cannot attend quickly. If you take on additional support such as cleaners or gardeners to help manage your property, you will also need to manage them; for example, their contract and pay, working conditions, health, and safety.
Using a holiday let agency
The biggest ‘pro’ of using a holiday let agency such as Best of Suffolk is time! Some holiday homeowners spend up to 40 hours a week on all aspects of managing their property, so giving this responsibility to us could free up a significant amount of your time.
It can be time-consuming dealing with enquiries, bookings and guest requests. An agency will handle all the administrative paperwork, including booking enquiries, contracts and sending out welcome guides.
It is also common for holiday homeowners to live a significant distance from their properties, so using an agency means that someone will be close by if needed. Here at Best of Suffolk, we have experience dealing with issues efficiently and can be available at all hours for emergencies. Complaints can be upsetting for a property owner, but we can handle these on your behalf and resolve any problems.
Many holiday property owners also say that setting up payment details and ensuring compliance with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards can be costly and time-consuming. Chasing overdue payments can also be stressful, but an agency can manage these tasks for you, in addition to managing refunds and re-letting your property so that you are not out of pocket.
If you do not live near your holiday home, you may not have the same experience of the local area as an experienced agent. Their knowledge of the region may prove invaluable as they will keep on top of rental trends. This knowledge allows the agency to know when to raise and lower prices according to seasons and demand, resulting in higher occupancy rates for you.
Marketing your holiday home is key, and an agency such as Best of Suffolk will have a marketing plan in place and know how to target your ideal guests. The agency will also take care of time-consuming tasks such as photography, copywriting and setting up and maintaining an online presence. Best of Suffolk has an established database of past and potential guests that can be used to market your property. Whilst this does not guarantee a steady stream of bookings, it does give you a significant headstart.
Security is a concern for many owners of holiday lets and using an agency can help to increase your occupancy throughout the year, meaning that your property spends less time being unoccupied and a potential target for burglars. They can also inspect the property on your behalf. Most agencies also have a comprehensive list of local and dependable tradesmen who can be called upon to conduct regular maintenance, cleaning, or deal with emergencies, giving you complete peace of mind.
Lastly, there are a number of rules and regulations regarding health and safety and legal matters relating to your holiday cottage. Best of Suffolk will ensure that your property is compliant with all of these, for example electrical PAT testing, gas boiler servicing and inspection, and safety/fire risk assessments.
In our experience, the biggest reason that holiday homeowners self-manage a property is due to the ‘cost’ of paying an agency. If you own a holiday property, we recommend spending some time calculating not only the monetary costs, but also the cost to your own time and wellbeing, before comparing this to the cost of agency management.
Here to help
If you already own or are considering buying a holiday home in Suffolk and are unsure whether to manage yourself or use the expertise of an agency such as Best of Suffolk, we can help. We will have an open, non-committal conversation to understand your situation and answer any questions you may have. We can also put you in touch with current property owners, so that you can understand how using our management services can benefit your holiday home business.
If you decide to choose Best of Suffolk to manage and promote your holiday home, we will support you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today.
We recognise that you have a choice of agent, in making your decision you will want to ensure that you are with the best. In choosing Best of Suffolk, we’d encourage you to consider our expertise in the following areas.
Advice – a key differentiator for Best of Suffolk, we are property owners too and understand the relationship of both parties. Over the last 15 years we have honed and developed our understanding of what makes a successful holiday property, listening to guests, examining feedback and monitoring the market to ensure our product matches the expectation of the marketplace. We have put all that knowledge and expertise into the Holy Grail, our complete guide to holiday letting which we provide each of our owners with once your property is live.
Service – looking after our property owners and guests share equal prominence with sales. We measure our guest satisfaction via Feefo where we consistently attain scores of close to 100%. We’ve also won several awards for our customer care including the Suffolk Business Award and the national Feefo Platinum Award. Many of our property owners have been with us for many years, a testament to the service and performance they receive from Best of Suffolk.
Sales – the number and quality of bookings that we take for your property is very important to you and to us. To ensure that we are consistently at the top of our game, we measure our occupancy rate against our key competitors every week to ensure that we’re delivering the best performance available.
Support – there is a dedicated customer service team at Best of Suffolk inland out of office hours, to support with any property related matters. We will always do our upmost to resolve anything prior to contacting any owner.
Vibe – fundamentally we want working with Best of Suffolk to be not only a rewarding experience, but an enjoyable one. You will find our ethos, as well as our team, to be vibrant, fun loving and keen to go the extra mile – to make every interaction with us as pleasurable as possible.
Our service starts wherever you are on your holiday letting journey, be it just considering your investment options, or with an up-and-running holiday property– we are here to help.
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