Jumping into the cabin rental business without prior research or knowledge of the local market isn’t a good idea. Before making a huge purchase and decision to rent out your cabin in North Georgia, make sure to ask questions and find solid answers from licensed accountants, trusted attorneys, and vacation rental professionals.
To help, Georgia Cabins for YOU — an experienced and thriving cabin rental management company in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Blue Ridge, Morganton, Ellijay, and Big Canoe, GA — has put together a list of frequently asked questions for anyone interested in investing in short-term rental cabins in this lucrative market.
Whether you love the North Georgia area and want a vacation home to visit and make money on the side or are looking to expand your investment portfolio in a lucrative market, our FAQ is a brilliant resource to get started. From purchase and common expenses to property management and selling, we have you covered!
Is owning a cabin rental in North Georgia a good investment?
Well, deciding if a short-term rental is a good investment for you all depends. Are you wanting to purchase a cheap property and make minor improvements? Are you going for a top-of-the-line cabin with loads of amenities? To be competitive, your cabin rental must have sought-after amenities, be in a fantastic location, and/or offer phenomenal views. As long as there is value for guests, vacation rental homeowners can usually expect a pre-tax return of around 7-8%, with some luxury properties reeling in an even higher percentage!
Things to Consider
- What are your short-term and long-term investment goals?
- Does renting out a vacation cabin fit with your overall risk profile?
- What expectations do you have as a potential vacation rental owner? Are they in line with the facts?
- Do you want to manage everything on your own? Or would you prefer to partner with a property management company that takes care of it all for you?
Vacation Rental VS Vacation Home
Owning a vacation home is not the same as investing in a vacation rental property. If you’re planning to rent out your log cabin most of the time and only use it for personal stays every now and then, it’s important to prioritize the property as a business first.
As with any business, there’s sometimes a cost, be it a broken banister or a stolen item. If you stress over every little thing at your short-term rental as if it’s your second home, then investing in the vacation rental industry may not be for you, and that’s okay.
Should I trust a real estate agent?
A real estate agent may exaggerate the potential of a cabin rental’s performance to get you to make a purchase. Though this is not always the case, it’s still a good idea to look into the history of the property and see how it’s performed in the past as a reference. And if you know the property is currently under management, ask for statements from the last 12 months to verify. Before signing the dotted line, just make sure to do a little research on your own. For a large investment, it’s worth it!
Should I title my North Georgia property under an LLC?
Bottom line: it’s not necessary to place your North Georgia cabin rental under an LLC — a limited liability company. However, an LLC for rental property does offer an amount of owner anonymity, asset protection from legal liability, as well as pass-through taxation. Before titling your property, we recommend speaking with your local attorney to make sure everything is set up correctly and functions properly for your needs.
What expenses come with a North Georgia vacation rental?
Fixed & Variable Expenses
Whether you rent out your vacation cabin or not, fixed expenses such as a mortgage and insurance for short-term rental liability issues often come standard. And remember to account for variable expenses, like utility costs rising and falling with the seasons.
- City/county lodging permits
- HOA/community/resort fees
- Homeowner & liability insurance (minimum of $1 million in liability coverage)
- Income taxes
- Property taxes
- Utilities (electricity, water, gas, cable, Wi-Fi, security system, etc.)
Cabin management companies do not handle rental fees the same way, and not all fees are charged to the vacation property homeowner. Regardless, looking at potential fees (most common below) can help determine if investing in a cabin rental in North Georgia is right for you. We also recommend asking potential management companies upfront about their fee setups for vacation rental owners to help find the best partnership for you and likely save $1,000s in the long run.
- Administrative fee
- Credit card processing fee
- Garbage collection fee
- Gross receipts (business occupancy tax)
- Hot tub cleaning fee
- Internet fee
- Landscaping fee
- Linen fee
- Maintenance supply fee
- Marketing fee
- Pest control fee
- Website/marketing fee
Routine Maintenance & Inventory
As with your own home, regardless of preventative maintenance, a short-term rental will need items fixed or replaced as needed — depending on the number of guests your property hosts in a year, how the property is treated, and when items were originally purchased.
When it comes to maintenance issues, many management companies typically have their own basic maintenance team and will charge by the hour plus bill for any replacements or parts needed to make repairs. Maintenance specialists are typically called in only when absolutely necessary. These costs vary by management company and/or the type of specialist required for the job.
Normal wear and tear is common for property rentals of all shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to restock guest inventory from time to time. Your guests aren’t staying at a hotel for the night; they’re coming to live the cabin life in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a little while. That means they will be cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, watching TV, and lounging just like they do at home. Do note North Georgia cabin management companies have their own guest inventory lists, so remember to give them a look over before partnering.
Major Replacements & Repairs
Like any house, a log cabin rental might require replacements of major appliances or large system repairs. Make sure to allocate some funds to possible major expenses, especially if you buy an older property. And remember to consider a high-quality photo shoot of your property if any major updates really impact the look of your vacation home rental — it could help rein in even more reservations!
- Carpet/tile/hardwood flooring
- Driveway (reseal or gravel & grade)
- HVAC (typically lasts 12-15 years)
- Kitchen/household appliances
- Plumbing/water/septic system
- Railing and Decking (repair, clean, stain & seal)
- Siding (repair, stain & pressure wash)
- Termite inspection
- Walls (paint)
- Water heater
When you partner with a cabin rental management company in North Georgia, you’ll have a commission split — the fee deducted from the gross rental income generated by your property monthly — that covers all the work by the company to push your property to succeed. So, if your commission split is 75/25 on your rental agreement, you’ll keep 75%, and your management company will keep 25%.
Typically, the commission split is based on a tiered percentage rate that is predicted by the amount of money a property could potentially generate over a year. For homeowners with multiple vacation properties, the percentage rate is predicted using the combined annual gross rental income.
In and around Blue Ridge, GA, management commissions typically start at 30-40% and can narrow down to 25-15% for top-performing, luxury properties. At Georgia Cabins for YOU, we’re all about surpassing owner goals and increasing overall profit for both parties — confidently offering up to an unheard-of 90/10 split in YOUR favor! Call 1.800.580.5524 for more information.
What kind of amenities do guests expect at a North Georgia cabin?
Great question! With the rise in vacation rentals across the world, guests have certain amenity expectations nowadays, which places more demand on homeowners and management companies. But spending a little more now will reel in renters and reap rewards down the road.
What should YOU provide? Take a look at common expected amenities plus a few standout luxuries for North Georgia cabins below.
- Big screen TV
- Blu-ray/DVD players
- Charcoal/gas grill
- Flatscreen TVs in bedrooms
- Fully equipped kitchen
- High speed Wi-Fi
- Keyless entry
- Premium cable/streaming services
- Washer & dryer
- Theater room
- Indoor/outdoor pool
- Game room (pool table, air hockey, foosball, arcade classics, etc.)
- Outdoor hot tub
Who pays for housekeeping?
There’s a lot of cleaning involved when you own a cabin rental in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rental cabins must be cleaned between each stay, and deep cleans are essential at least a few times per year.
If you decide to work with a great vacation rental management company, housekeeping is usually covered by charging a cleaning fee to guests. Homeowners typically cover the cleaning fee when they stay at the property and also pay for biannual deep cleans by professional cleaning crews.
Who supplies linens and towels?
Luckily, most cabin rental companies will supply basic linens and towels for your vacation property. However, you will be responsible for additional linens and towels throughout the bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, and kitchen. Our recommendation: get machine-washable items!
Supplied by Management Company
- Bath/hand towels, washcloths & floormats
- Fitted/flat sheets + pillowcases
- Kitchen towels
- Pool towels (for cabin rentals with private pools)
Supplied by Homeowners
- Blankets (quilts, comforters, bedspreads, duvet covers, throws, etc.)
- Dust ruffles + bed skirts
- Mattress pads + bedbug covers
- Pillows, shams & protectors
- Window treatments (curtains, drapes, etc.)
Are bedbugs an issue for North Georgia cabins?
Cleanliness is next to godliness…if only. Even if your property sparkles after every stay, it’s important to be prepared for bedbugs. With guests coming and going, bedbugs are a common threat for vacation rental properties across the country, just like motel and hotel rooms. When bedbugs are found, it’s important to act swiftly and hire a pest control company to chemically or heat treat the affected areas in the home.
Since you can’t really determine who (guest, housekeeper, maintenance worker, friend, etc.) brought bedbugs into the rental home, the cost of extermination usually falls on the cabin owner. Depending on the severity of the infestation and the size of your mountain cabin, it could cost anywhere from $750-5,000.
Should I allow pets at my North Georgia cabin rental?
Pet parents are traveling with their fur babies more often these days, so having a pet-friendly cabin rental in North Georgia makes sense, right? Yes and no.
Make sure to consider potential damages and fleas that could come with allowing pets at your cabin rental. Also, consider the fact that most people who bring along their pets on vacation have well-behaved animals and often use flea preventatives.
While you’ll probably see higher occupancy rates if your cabin is pet friendly, you may also have to pay for additional maintenance needs, which are at least partially (if not fully) covered by pet deposits and other guest charges. It’s worth asking your management company for more information before deciding to make your property pet friendly.
How often can I stay at my vacation rental?
For tax purposes, cabin rental homeowners can typically use their property for personal getaways for a limited amount of days per year. Do check with a local CPA or another tax professional so you don’t lose out on expense deductions during tax season!
Furthermore, some property management companies can be restrictive as well. Ultimately, the more you stay at your property, the less revenue you’ll earn. This is especially true during peak seasons, so weigh your options wisely.
Who handles property upkeep and business management?
Managing a vacation rental business is a lot of work. So, who handles property upkeep and business management depends on who you partner with. If you want to take it all on by yourself, go for it! Just expect less time for fun things you like to do, lost weekends, and midnight calls from guests.
Owning a vacation property is an active investment that’s worth the effort, but you don’t have to put it all in yourself. Partnering with Georgia Cabins for YOU allows you to be as involved as you like as we take care of everything, from competitive marketing, social media engagement, and dynamic pricing to guest communication, OTA management (like Airbnb and VRBO), and high-quality housekeeping.
Interacting on a regular basis — returning calls, texts, and emails promptly — will help the management of your property run smoothly. Remember to set attainable goals, keep realistic expectations, and prepare for property expenses. Ultimately, successful vacation rental owners keep in touch and allow us to do what we do best: make YOUR property a total success.
What if I want to sell my North Georgia property?
While it’s important to investigate the resale value of your property, please keep in mind investing in a Blue Ridge, GA, cabin rental, or any vacation rental really, is considered a long-term investment. If you want to flip or resell quickly, this may not be the industry for you. There’s great value in loyal repeat renters, and you can’t welcome them back if you don’t keep their favorite place to stay in North Georgia open for business.
Found in Section 1031 of the United States Internal Revenue Code (IRC), a 1031 exchange uses the net sales proceeds from your previous property to purchase a property (or properties) of similar value, which defers any capital gains taxes. There are time limits and complex specifications that must be met in order to take advantage of this tax deferment, so it’s super important to consult with an experienced, licensed professional beforehand.
Am I ready to own a vacation rental in North Georgia?
Well, this answer varies from person to person. If you’ve read through to the end of our FAQ and feel comfortable or even excited to get started, you’re likely ready to rent out a mountain cabin in North Georgia. If you’re hesitant or feeling uneasy, we wouldn’t close the door just yet. Our recommendation would be to jot down any other questions you have and do further research.
At the end of the day, not everyone has the temperament for the vacation rental industry, and that’s okay! It’s vital to figure out if renting out vacation rentals is right for you with a well-informed and educated mindset.
Not everything will go as planned — that’s a fact. Items will get damaged and/or stolen, and you may end up paying the cost to replace or fix them. Management companies, just like owners, may miss the mark every now and again. And occupancy might not hit your goal every single month, especially in slower seasons.
With all that said, this can be a very fun and rewarding business when you enter it with reasonable expectations. Positive reviews from guests who desperately needed a getaway to save their marriage or reconnect with family will make you smile. Partnering with the best full-service management company will allow you to make money without lifting a finger, which rocks! And when your investment goals are surpassed, it feels amazing.
Ask Us MORE Questions!
Got more Qs on renting out a vacation cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains? We have answers. Our dedicated Owner Relations team is extremely knowledgeable about the vacation rental industry and can help you find your way — whether you’re planning to purchase a property, are currently managing your own cabin, or have never stepped foot in the rental realm.
Georgia Cabins for YOU even offers a complimentary rental estimate online! Reach out today and learn more about renting out your cabin in North Georgia.