For a town amplified by the tourism economy, Charleston SC often sees a slowdown during the winter months as fewer visitors are flocking to its sandy shores. Many hotels and rental properties resort to deep rate cuts to entice visitors and maintain bookings - a tactic referred to as "dynamic pricing." While dynamic pricing is important in keeping rental income at a steady stream, this off-season period of potentially lesser income is the ideal time to assess the property and make any necessary maintenance updates to ensure it's in tip-top shape for the next peak season. If occupancy was successful during the busy summer months, vacation rental properties see wear and tear which means, whether it's minor adjustments or a large repair, there are always improvements to be made in the slower season.
Our property management team monitors all of our properties year-round for standard repairs and maintenance(i.e filter changes) and while some repairs are urgent and unavoidable (i.e. a broken dishwasher), there are others you may deem appropriate to defer to winter months. We tend to categorize these repairs as the big stuff, the small, and the good stuff. Here are some things that might make the list:
The Big Stuff
Don't wait for a roof to start leaking before maintaining it. The last thing you need is an urgent repair potentially resulting in canceled reservations and revenue loss. Repair or replace the big stuff during the winter months to limit the financial impact. This is the time to tackle projects that can be messy, noisy, or disruptive and are best done when the property is vacant. Projects may include applying a fresh coat of interior or exterior paint, and updating the HVAC system, replacing a dishwasher, etc.
The Small Stuff
After a busy summer of vacationers it's important to evaluate the furnishings, appliances, and decor for excess wear. Replace stained towels and linens or rugs; take inventory of cups, glasses, dishware and cutlery, checking for chipped and missing items. Replace the batteries in all smoke detectors. In the humid and salty Charleston air, it's important to check outdoor spaces and furnishings for dingy mold and mildew, or physical damage and rust. Tip: Use a pressure washer to quickly clean and freshen up outdoor furnishings.
The Good Stuff
Whether it's adding a pool, updating interiors (backsplash, flooring, countertops, fixtures), or optimizing for efficiency (solar paneling, new windows, etc.) upgrades add value to your property which can result in increased profits - a 5% increase in investment can be a 20% increase in profits! Once the upgrades are completed, have new photography taken and market your upgrades in the rental description alongside an increased nightly rate if the updates warrant it - then watch the upgrades yield an increased net profit and hopefully pay for themselves over time.
There is never an ideal time to have a maintenance catastrophe, which is why maintaining your investment property is so important. While there are time and cost investments associated with certain maintenance projects, they can be mitigated by timing the work during the slower winter months. Ultimately the investment will pay for itself in profits generated by a high-quality rental property enjoyed by guests year after year into the future.
As luxury property managers, these upgrades and fixes are always on our mind because we care for your property and are always looking for ways to make the most out of your Charleston SC vacation rental. See why we're the best at what we do and how we've been able to increase profits for homeowners in our portfolio with our free case study booklet ...