On this page Ross Elder, Holiday Lettings Co Uk specialist gives sound advice to holiday home owners BEFORE the intention is to rent out a holiday home.
The second article provides Marketing Advice to Generate the Best Income from Your Holiday Home .
Greek National Tourist Office EOT Permit Regulations for Lettings.
by Ross Elder (and additional comments from Brits in Crete)
If you are looking to buy a holiday home abroad with a view to letting it out and recover some of your costs, these guidelines from Ross Elder of Holiday Lettings U.K. can help you get the most from your overseas investment.
Buying to let in Greece and Crete is an increasingly popular investment option for many. However, before purchasing your dream home it is worth considering factors that will affect its performance as a letting property.
The first things you should ask yourself are:
* What are my priorities?
* How important is the investment side of the purchase?
* Are you hoping to buy in an expanding area and sell when house prices rocket?
* Do you simply want to cover your mortgage costs and use it as a second home?
* Is this a long-term rental investment?
* Are you planning to retire there in a few years’ time?
* Do you wish to live there some of the year, and rent for other times?
Asking these questions in advance will help you focus on what is important, and be objective when considering potential properties.
You may think the rundown, but picturesque stone house is wonderful, but will everyone else?
Look at the property from a paying holidaymaker’s perspective and remember - 'love is blind'.
The toilet 'out house' may seem quirky and quaint to you, but might not seem such a lovely ‘feature’ for your guests.
If you find yourself falling in love with a place, get a friend to take a look at it with you and point out any potential pitfalls before you sign.
Think through the rental conditions for your area and gauge your potential rental market before you buy, if you haven't already. If it is a popular area for families and your property only has one bedroom, you may struggle to find bookings. Buying a sofa bed would certainly help, but perhaps a different area with a second bedroom would bring a better return for your budget.
Another essential consideration is location.
Ask yourself - is the house easily accessible?
How nearby are the regional airports of Heraklion, Xania or Sitia? Or, even the ferry ports of Kissamos, Souda, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos or Sitia?
Properties in easy-to-access areas are likely to be much more in demand throughout the year, so if back-to-back rentals are important for you – think carefully about where you buy.
Once you have decided on a property, you need to consider how to maximise its rental potential. A little time spent researching the local rental situation is invaluable and will help you plan the rental year realistically.
Assuming you are planning to stay in the property occasionally, calculate how much income you wish to make from letting it out the rest of the time. A quick search online for similar properties in the area will show how much they charge, and in turn give some idea of how much of the calendar you can expect to fill with visitors.
The main holiday season on Crete is roughly half the year, April to October. If climate change continues, then November is also becoming a viable month for lettings. Brits, especially Ex-pat Brits will be by far and away your most frequent visitors, and not just because Crete is one of our favourite holiday destinations, but because it makes most sense to aim for the holiday market you can most easily communicate with.
BUT, if you have Scandinavian connections and even with Holland/Belgiam/Luxembourg, then they are good markets, and do not overlook the Ex-pat markets in Cyprus - yes Cyprus, Dubai and other Middle East centres. Here is why: I have friends in Malta who love Crete. They are typical of a growing trend as is the case with the Italians and Spanish to rent on Crete as well. Frankly, anyone who communicates in English is your target market.
Focus on the peak holiday times and low season "troughs" in the British calendar back home. For example, find out when are the school holidays and half-term breaks. These are peak periods.
For those school break periods, set your prices accordingly and decide in advance on preferred arrival and departure days (allowing time for linen and cleaning changeover) for these busy periods. When planning your own stay at your property bear in mind it may prove costly for you to stay during known high-value weeks like the half-term holidays.
Be aware that there can be variations, year to year in booking peaks and troughs according to the type of property. So, our advice is set your rentals ratesy for holiday letting accordingly.
Another important benchmark regarding school holidays - a Cretan mountain village house not far the from the coast - which is great for family summer breaks, for example, is unlikely to be in demand, laround school holiday periods, compared to an apartment in a town on the coast may attract a steady stream of customers throughout the year.
Similarly, a large villa that sleeps 12-14 may be hard to fill outside of the peak months, while smaller stone Apotheke* style accommodation, might bring in lower weekly rates but can be easier to fill all year round.
Think realistically about what the local area offers in terms of climate, activities, opportunities, specialities and so on. You may find that out-of-season attracts a very different person to high-season and the most regular autumn visitors are often English couples looking for somewhere to buy and stay longer, so do think laterally about the sorts of visitors you may attract.
Work out in advance how flexible you can afford to be in terms of discounts for bookings of more than one week, and for smaller groups or late bookings to fill a cancellation.
Here is a personal observation - due to climate change, it appears that March and April may be less predictable weatherwise, but at the end of summer, October and November on Crete are becoming more warm and pleasant, extending the traditional season particularly for Brits or other Northern Europeans.
Finally, there is the matter of marketing your holiday home. Advertising may be unknown territory, but unless you tell people about your property they won’t know it’s there!
Note: For less than you would pay to advertise in local papers, online adverts enable holidaymakers worldwide to view your property offering photos, availability and prices, and are definitely worth investigating.
Wherever you advertise, think in depth about all your holiday home has to offer.
You may be situated near to a beautiful beach or a popular walking route, archaeological site or the golf course.
Whichever it is, turn your property’s unique charms and location to your advantage by promoting it. Mention key features like swimming pools, air conditioning and a free airport pick-up (a big attraction) you offer as these things may win over potential guests. If you struggle to fill a particular season consider minor improvements – central heating or a log fire to make a winter break at your cottage a cosy option, or a south facing terrace to enjoy summer dinners 'en plein air'. Always say what is the drive time from airport.
Whether you are at the looking, buying or letting stage for your holiday rental or letting on Crete, it pays to think laterally.
If you take time to do your homework, choose a suitable property, research the local market and be prepared to put in some thought with regards to marketing, it will be worth the effort.
There’s no reason why your dream property shouldn’t become a viable investment.
Ross Elder is managing director of Holiday Lettings U.K. (owned by TripAdvisor.com) based in Oxford, with additional material by Gerald Brown of Brits in Crete.
*Apotheke - Usually a room or out building in thick stone to house the animals converted into cool accommodation
--->>Go to the Second article: Marketing Advice to Generate the Best Income from Your Holiday Home
--->>Go to the Greek National Tourist Office EOT Permit Regulations for Lettings.