What to Look for in a Snowbird Rental
What to Look for in A Snowbird Rental
Figuring out your warm weather rental home is the single-largest factor to being happy when away for the winter. It's also the biggest topic of conversation among snowbirds who first meet. The conversation generally goes like this, "Where are you from?" "Where are you staying?" and "How long will you be here?" It's almost the same conversation for snowbirds who have known each other for years: "Are you coming back to the same place next year?" "When will you arrive?" and "How long are you staying?"
Snowbirds typically compare the pros and cons of rental properties. Largely because it is in the forefront of one's mind -- if you like your snowbird rental, you don't want to do anything to jeopardize losing it and if you aren't especially pleased, you're looking for a better opportunity.
For various reasons, some degree of shuffling is typical, either within a particular complex or the local area. There's a snowbird code of ethics about not undermining your friends to get into a different place, which
means inside information and referrals are particularly coveted. If someone is not planning to return to the same place the following season, they generally will try to work it out internally with a recommendation to their friends who want to make a move so that the owner already has a quality renter in place. After all, there may come a time when the favor needs returned.
Of course, no rental has everything, but the units with the best overall value are the most in demand. There's no shortcuts. Be informed, savvy and well-connected. Most snowbirds plan at least a year in advance, so if you don't already have your place reserved, it's time to get it done.
Location: This is generally number one on the list. Geographical location, as well as location within a specific complex or building
Availability: Whether by the week, month or season, availability is essential and often the biggest reason for losing out on a desired rental property
Pet friendly: Acceptance of pets and green space are non-negotiable for many snowbirds; acceptance of large breed dogs is a huge bonus
View: Beach, mountains, garden, lake, golf course, bay or desert for many snowbirds is a key element
Square Footage: Smaller spaces must stand out above the others, larger spaces are more expensive and in demand for longer term snowbirds
Kitchen: Functionality, open to living space; updated decor; a quiet built-in dishwasher; good lighting; well stocked with sets of matching dishes/glassware; pantry space; storage; newer appliances; clean refrigerator; high-end countertops
Living area: Comfortable furniture; simple, neutral, updated decor; good lighting; flat screen television with cable channels; a desk; drapes or plantation shutters; appealing wall art; a cabinet and/or hutch for extra storage; gaming station or sleeper sofas are bonuses
Dining area: A designated table with plenty of seating
Bedroom/s: Comfortable mattresses; neutral, simple, updated decor; plenty of dresser space; empty closet/s stocked with hangers and a few extra pillows/linens; good lighting; room darkening drapes; full length mirror; flat screen television/s with cable channels; an easy chair or bench; a view, access to a patio or balcony and gaming stations are bonuses
Bathroom/s: Functionality; en suite with dual sinks in the master; neutral, updated decor; spacious shower with glass enclosure or contemporary shower curtain; grab bars in the shower and tub for safety; plenty of towel racks; drawer space in vanities; linen closet; a clock on the wall; large mirror; good lighting; matching sets of white wash clothes and towels; a quiet vent fan
Laundry/Closets/Storage: In-unit laundry with newer appliances; plenty of hangers; an ironing board and iron; shelving; vacuum cleaner; closets devoid of any items except extra pillows/blankets; walk-in closet/s with a dresser and a drying rack are bonuses
Balcony/Outdoor Space: A balcony, first floor patio and/or outdoor space; outdoor dining table with chairs; outdoor chairs and end table/s
Amenities: Parking; wi-fi; elevators; pool/s; outdoor space; barbecue grill/s; community center; exercise equipment; leisure activities such as shuffleboard, ping pong, tennis court, basketball court; access to local golf courses, etc.
Price/Value: The overall value must meet or exceed expectations for the price
Clean/in good repair: Well maintained; fresh paint/no scuffs; clean throughout, including under the beds, the appliances, floors, closets, nooks and crannies; newer furniture; especially immaculate in the bathrooms and kitchen
Upgrades: Crown molding; high end counter tops of granite, marble or quartz; an especially exceptional or expansive view; an oversized balcony or outdoor space; updated decor; modern tile floors, beautiful lighting, fixtures and new appliances are all upgrades that will command a higher price due to higher demand
Loyalty: First right of refusal to renew is a must for snowbirds to develop a long-term rental relationship with an owner or management company. Snowbirds generally renew their contracts a full year in advance and usually pay a non-refundable deposit. Feeling valued as a client plays a major role for snowbirds to continuously return to their warm weather rental homes.
Contracts: Contracts with the most fair and equitable language are important to both snowbirds and owners/property managers. Due to the long-term trust and business relationships, reputation and referrals are key for both parties.
"We are what we see. We are products of our surroundings."
--Amber Valletta, American Fashion Model, Actress