Thinking of buying a holiday home in St Andrews or the East Neuk? Renting property out to tourists is an excellent way to bring in some income whenever you’re not staying in the property. Whether you’re saving for retirement, getting into the property business or simply looking for a way to pay for your new dream holiday home, there are a few things you need to consider before taking the leap.

Here are the most important things to look out for when letting out a holiday home – plus some advice on how we can help take the hassle out of everything.

Scope out a great location (like St Andrews)

where to stay st andrews holiday homes buy to let short term letting fifeIt really is all about location, location, location when it comes to holiday homes. Your property has to offer something useful to guests – so take some time to check out the best neighborhoods in the area you want to buy in. Is there a beach? Where are the cultural hotspots? Why do tourists visit there?

Certain locations also come with additional costs, however. Buildings in historic neighborhoods might require more maintenance and have tighter refurb restrictions. These are all important factors when deciding where to buy a holiday home. Really make sure you take the time to get to know the place before making a commitment.

It comes as no surprise that we think St Andrews is a great town for buying a holiday home. Whether you want golf, history or coastal scenery – it really has it all!

Plan around local events

One massive benefit of owning a holiday rental is that you can block off some slots for your own vacation. If you want to do this whilst still maximising profits, you should plan your trips around local events.

For us, the Open is a massive event that draws visitors from across the world. As the home of golf, this is one of the busiest times to be in St Andrews. Market your property around these high demand events (as well as peak seasons such as the summer holidays).

Use holiday home listings websites to bring in new guests

Known as Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), listing websites are the best way to bring in new guests. You’ll have to give up a percentage of takings, but for most travellers these will be the first places they look.

It’s great to have an additional strategy to bring in direct bookings – discounts, reward schemes, complimentary extras – but when you’re first starting out you absolutely must choose a couple of OTAs to list with. This is how you will get your first guests and get those five star reviews that will encourage direct bookings later on.

We love using AirBnB for our holiday lets in Fife, but there are plenty of other fantastic websites worth considering – each with their own pros and cons.

Invest in a good holiday home booking system

short stay st andrews short term let holiday home st andrewsYou might have heard the stories of all the nightmares that can occur when mistakes happen. Double bookings, missed details, delayed payments. These can all be avoided by ensuring you invest in a good booking system. 

How can you ensure your booking system works for you? Well you have two options – which we discuss in more detail here. You can either run through the best channel managers and set one up yourself. Alternatively, you can let a local holiday let management company take care of everything for you. The benefits of the latter are that we can also deal with all the other tips mentioned in this guide.

Nail your online content

Your listing is your one chance to woo potential guests – so make it count! Your property photos are your first impression for most guests – and we’ve got five great tips on nailing those here – but you should take care to make sure all of the content speaks to your guests.

Property descriptions should speak to your audience, so do some quick research before you write them up. Checking out how influencers that attract your target market speak is a good way to gage what tone works best. Most of all, however, make sure you bring in those reviews! Beyond the photos, these are a huge part of the decision process for guests.

Buy the right interiors

Gone are the days of magnolia walls and high gloss everywhere – more and more, guests are looking for holiday homes with a bit of character. The best way to do this is to consider where in the market your home fits. If you’re leasing a luxury penthouse, you’ll need to make sure your furnishings are high quality.

On the other end, historic buildings will require timeless furnishings – and more rural locations will benefit from a rustic vibe. Really take the time to think about who you’re selling your home to, and build an experience for them. Our top tip on how to furnish a holiday home? Concepts are better than themes – so aim for a mood rather than mimicking a specific environment.

The small details are just as important as the furnishings. Hiring linen, rather than buying outright, is a great way to ensure everything stays fresh.

Consider the holiday home market

There’s one question that has been on the lips of vacation rental owners for a few years now – how will Brexit affect my holiday let? We might not have any more answers on that one, but you need to take a look at market forces before deciding how to market your home.

The recent pandemic has put international travel on hold for the foreseeable – but staycations have increased in popularity. We found St Andrews was a very popular destination for guests travelling from the rest of the UK so you don’t have to get caught up in the doom and gloom. Be ready to adapt what you offer!

Install a security system

short term let holiday home in st andrews fife scotlandHow do you keep your holiday home safe when you’re not there? There are a few ways to do this, but installing a security system is one of the most cost effective. You do need to keep privacy concerns in mind, however – and how do you keep it clean between guests?

Fortunately, local property management companies are able to check on your holiday home between guests to make sure everything is in order. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that.

Get to know the community

Try out the restaurants, bars and boutiques near your holiday home! Not only will this give you great recommendations to keep your guests excited, they might also help you with other aspects of preparing the property. Guests love when furnishings are sourced locally – so why not check out the artisan craftspeople within walking distance?

Keeping on good terms with locals also improves security, gives your guests a more authentic experience and might even make you a few friends for when you’re visiting yourself. It’s a win-win!

Keep an eye on local regulations

In the same spirit as keeping an eye on market forces, you also need to be aware that local regulations can often change. When Private Residential Tenancies were introduced in 2018, this made holiday homes more attractive to investors than student lets in Scotland. With discussions of further restrictions on short-term lets across Scotland, it’s important to keep yourself informed.

With local property management companies like use, you’ll be able to sleep easy knowing your holiday home complies fully to the latest regulations. 

Ready to let someone else take care of the hard stuff for you? Short Stay St Andrews are experienced in all aspects of holiday let management – including sourcing, refurbishment and guest turnovers. With over 1000 5-star reviews, we have years of experience behind us. We’re also based right in the heart of St Andrews, so we know the local holiday home market like the back of our hand. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.

Our AirBnB Made Simple management will make letting your property hassle free.