A king-sized bed in your master suite? That’s just one of Adam Alexander’s keys to success.

School’s out, summer has arrived and city folk are relocating to the coast. That means its peak season for renting holiday homes.

The Mornington Peninsula is home to some of Victoria’s favourite beach holiday locations – Sorrento, Portsea, Rosebud, Dromana and Rye. 60 percent of the properties we sell will be used as holiday rentals.

Having worked in the area for over a decade, I’ve seen the best and worst when it comes to beach rentals.

With vacancy rates close to zero from mid-December to the end of January, it’s not hard to let out a beach house during peak times. But get the formula right and your property could become a year-round lucrative business, with return customers and bookings throughout the year. Here are my top tips for earning top rental dollar for your holiday home.

Get the beds right

Holidays are all about family and friends, and when it comes to holiday homes, the more people it can fit, the merrier. As a general rule, your master should include a king size bed, and your second bedroom should be equipped with a queen and a bunk (if it can fit). All other rooms should include bunks, with a sofa bed in the living room for extra measure. A house that can sleep at least two families of four means they can share the cost of letting a more luxurious home and significantly broadens your renter market for the entire year.

Nail the basics

Put yourself in the shoes of the tenant. While an attractive home is important, a holiday home has to fit the needs of holiday makers. When it comes to furniture, keep it simple, low maintenance, bright and tidy. The last thing renters want is to worry about is spilling red wine on an expensive couch or dusting ornaments in the house.

It’s also important to ensure the basics of the property are in good working order. Families with pets will pay a premium to bring their pooch on holiday so investing in good fencing is a smart move. Protecting any potential hazards in the house such as outdoors stairs will also be appreciated by families with kids.

Finally, keep in mind that people go on holiday to enjoy life’s creature comforts so investing in services such as air-conditioning and a dishwasher can sometimes sway renters to pay a higher rate.

First and last impressions count

No matter how great your property, if it’s poorly marketed and managed you won’t fetch the rate you’re after. Don’t skimp on professional photography, and think outside the box when advertising your property – don’t just consider the newspapers and online real estate portals. Also use holiday listing sites such as and AirB&B, and local area tourism sites. Exposure in as many outlets as possible will help with keeping your properties fully booked all year long.

When it comes to the booking process, keep it as streamlined and swift as possible. Offer plenty of options for bond payment and ensure a prompt bond return once renters depart – as long as they’ve left your property the way they found it. This is 101 of good customer service and will encourage repeat business.

Added extras

Thoughtful details can be the icing on the cake for holiday makers searching for that home away from home. You’d be surprised how many people value take-away menus on the fridge door and a guestbook with a local’s tips on the best places to eat out. Likewise, a deck of cards, board games, and boogie boards and a frisbee in the shed are nice added touches to the house. Making your renters feel more at home will encourage repeat business and set you up for a fruitful, year-long operation.

Adam Alexander has 10 years experience in real estate on the Mornington Peninsula and is director of hockingstuart Rosebud.

Posted by Adam Alexander – The Age on 6th January, 2014