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Things to consider when renovating a vacation home

Vacation homes may seem like a luxury only the very wealthy can afford, but many people purchase vacation homes as investments. Vacation homes give families a place to escape to where they can spend time together each summer or winter, but such homes also help homeowners generate income, and some homeowners even find the height of vacation season generates enough rental income to pay for the second home year-round.

Personal style goes a long way toward determining how to renovate a primary residence. But men and women who own vacation homes they hope to rent out should not allow their own personal styles to dictate a vacation home renovation project. The following are some additional things homeowners should consider before renovating their vacation homes.

• Curb appeal: When renovating a vacation property, relatively minor updates can dramatically improve curb appeal, which may bear more weight with prospective renters than it would prospective buyers. Potential buyers are making a substantial financial commitment when they buy a home, so they will go over a home with a fine tooth comb. But vacation renters are making a much smaller financial commitment, so curb appeal can go a long way toward encouraging vacationers to rent your property. Repaint a home in a more vibrant color or replace old siding with newer material. Hire a local landscaping service to tend to the property throughout vacation season, and be sure to include updated photos of your property with online listings.

• Connectivity: While vacation was once a respite from all aspects of our everyday lives, nowadays vacationers want to maintain at least some connection to the outside world. If your vacation home is not up-to-date with its wireless technology, upgrade to a faster network that offers high speed Internet. Such connectivity can and likely will prove attractive to prospective renters who have grown accustomed to relying on the Internet, even when they are on vacation.

• Appliances: A vacation rental may not need the latest and greatest appliances, but homeowners may find it easier to attract renters (and charge more in rent) if the home is not filled with outdated appliances reminiscent of a long forgotten era. Upgrade especially outdated appliances, but make sure any upgrades fit with the theme of your rental. For example, stainless steel appliances may look great in your primary residence, but such appliances are costly and may not be what renters hoping to find a beachside bungalow are looking for.

• Accessibility: Some people want a vacation home far off the beaten path, but that does not mean the home has to be inaccessible. If your vacation home is in a wooded area far off the road, consider paving the access road prospective renters will use to get to and from the property. This relatively small touch may appeal to potential renters who want some seclusion but don't want to put their vehicles through the ringer every time they leave the property.

Renovating a vacation home is a great way to generate extra rental income from the property, and there are several ways homeowners can make their vacation homes more attractive to renters without breaking the bank.