5 Ways to Update your Vacation Rental Property for Rental Season

by February 25, 2013 • 13 comments

Spring is almost here and for many of us in Panama City Beach, we’re thinking about how we can best maximize the rental season just ahead of us. At Panama City Beach Luxury Properties, you can be sure we see our fair share of opportunities to update, renovate, suggest and redo to help out properties make the most money they can make.

If you have a rental property, you know how important it is to keep everything updated and in good shape. Letting anything fall too far behind can cost positive reviews or worse, a great rental season.

Here are five easy things you can do to help freshen up your Panama City Beach vacation rental property.


One of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to give your place a totally new look is to install new bedding in your vacation property. There are a variety of local options, including Target, Marshall’s and local retail stores that sell a great variety of quality, inexpensive bedding options for all sized beds.

When you’re buying new bedding, make sure you pick out styles and colors that are consistent with the theme of the property. And make sure it’s easily washed incase it needs to be laundered during the rental season. If it needs to be dry cleaned, a quick turn around on a turnover day may be impossible.

Also, when you replace bedding, go the extra mile and get some matching throw pillows for each bed to help finish off the look.

New or Additional Art

So often we walk through new condos and they are fitted with the standard setup they came with when they were brand new. There are many advantages to these kits, including having a cohesive look throughout and a design that was likely well thought out.

However, in the interest of saving costs, the property is often left bare with few art hanging on the walls. I’m a fan or organized and purposeful blank spaces, but when the place looks empty, it feels empty.

There are tons of local places that sell great art that is tasteful, beachy (if that’s your thing), and inexpensive. I’ve even picked up some neat stuff from Marshall’s.  There are also a lot of amazing places to shop for art along 30A.

The art you hang should reflect a fun personality, should match the decor of the rental property and should be creatively hung. Take advantage of bare walls to create patterns of pictures and don’t be afraid to hang some family portraits to make it feel personal.

New Furniture

Lets face it, this is probably one of the more expensive things to update in a vacation rental property. Furniture can be costly and very difficult to move in. But, when that old couch can’t be cleaned anymore and the cushions are looking slouchy, it’s time to replace it with something new. The more you try to squeeze that last rental season out of it, the more you’re going to hurt your reviews and repeat visitation.

Sometimes it isn’t all about wear and tear either. Its important to keep your property looking up to date as well. The style and decor of your property should be reviewed about every 5 years or so as styles change. What was considered “in” back in 2008 isn’t necessarily in-style today. You have to realize as new property owners come online and redecorate, eventually you’ll see an industry wide shift in style. And if you miss it, you’ll be left behind.

Decorative Nick-Nacks

One thing I’m asked a lot is, “What about decorative nick-nacks? Should I have them, what if they are lost or broken, and how much is too much?”

These are all great questions. I don’t have some magic formula for how much is a good amount or what to go where, but I reiterate, if it looks empty, it feels empty.

Just like art on the walls, there should be decoration on the shelves, countertops, and nooks and crannies. Now, this is not to say there should be something on ALL countertops and shelves, but there should be some.  The trick is to stay tasteful and consistent with the decor and have a balance of not too much and not too little.

Also, just like art, many neat decorations can be found in the same places you’re looking for art. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Consistent with all rental properties, I would strongly consider the amount of money you put into decorative items knowing they could be broken or lost by guests, or their children. I never recommend keeping things you’d have serious heartburn over if it were harmed.


Again, like furniture, this is one of the more expensive things to address in an aging vacation rental property.  But, it is something that needs to be taken care of on a regular basis.

The first thing I recommend on the property with carpet is to have the carpet replaced with a hard-surfaced floor.  Now, I like having a soft surface in the bedroom just as much as the next person, but that is easily accomplished by putting in a nice big rug that is easily replaced when needed.

Many people prefer just to tile the entire place, and while that can be a very tasteful solution, there are many other things that you can do to make your condo stand out from the rest.

One of my personal favorite flooring options is a  manufactured laminate wood floor.  This flooring material is intentionally created to be extremely durable and very good-looking.   Generally speaking, it is manufactured so well, that upon first inspection it is indiscernible to the real thing.  The reason I personally favor the laminate hardwood flooring is because of its durability, low cost, and it’s ease of replacement should it ever need to be replaced.

When I get to do it however I want, my personal preference is to have a hardwood floor surface in the bedrooms with a huge rug under the bed (extending out the sides) and tile throughout the living and all common areas.

Some Examples of Tasteful Decoration


This is one of our Southern Exposure townhomes.  It’s been a phenomenal rental, partly because it’s a townhome right on the beach; but also because it was very tastefully decorated.  Guests comment regularly that it’s one of the nicest places they’ve stayed in, hands down.


This condo is one of our Calypso three bedrooms owned by Karen Smith at Beachy Beach (one of the owners of PCBDaily.com).  When she bought it, she went all out, buying local art, some new furniture and decorative items to spruce up the existing furniture.  What she has done with her rental has created a frenzy of activity that will net a tangible revenue one-upmanship over the competition.


This home is one of our rental properties in Watersound West on 30A.  Our 30A rental company, Swantree 30A manages this one and it’s tasteful decor promised positive reviews and a comfy, beachy style.



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1 Cathy February 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

These are beautiful…. no doubt about it & wonderful tips for anyone who wants to freshen up their own home! I am so thankful that many condo owners have completely moved away from having everything in “wicker”, a few pieces are ok but, not the whole condo!
The bedroom you have shown is soooooooo cozy…… I adore this!
I always look for condo’s to rent with comfortable sofas and chairs and snuggle beds…… you may be on vacation but, look for things such as these that make YOU happy! 🙂



2 Gregg February 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

The only point that needs to be added is many people advise against hardwood/laminate on the beach due to sand being tracked in and can be like sandpaper on the surface. It looks good for a while but then starts having a scuffed and worn appearance.


3 Cathy February 28, 2013 at 9:51 am

Gregg, I think the new modern wood/laminate flooring is somewhat more durable than you may think. We were advised not to put down laminate flooring due to having a small dog (Jack Russell) but, he has not made one scratch or mar on the surface. We have dropped things, broken things & spilled a few things & it still looks beautiful. Sand may be different you are right but, if the cleaners of these condos are using the correct type of vacuum there should be no problem. One thing I will suggest is NOT to mop these floors. Damp mop or towel to wipe up spills but NOT a flooding of water from an old fashioned mop.


4 Gregg February 28, 2013 at 10:11 am

Good luck on trying to control what the cleaning crews due during the peak Summer when 90% of the check outs/check in occur on Saturdays for an almost occupancy rate of 100%. This is simple terms the cleaning people have 5 hours out of the week to conduct 90% of their weekly work.
Big difference between dog claws and abrasive sand. You also need to remember you are living in YOUR house that YOU care about., on a vacation rental you are dealing with renters who, for the most part, could care less. They are there for a vacation, nothing else.


5 Cathy March 4, 2013 at 11:37 am

As with any owner paying a cleaning crew to “clean” his property they are to do just that…. clean. The property owner (if he really cares about his property) will see that it is cleaned by reliable staff & is clean for the next renters (that’s how you get returns) it’s also how you as an owner keep your property in good standing shape.
IF and I use this lightly, if renters would use decent common good sense they would clean their feet off before going inside from the beach. But, Gregg I do know what you are talking about…. I have actually seen families get on the elevators caked with sand off the beach heading into their condo….. it makes one wonder what is wrong with these people. I do care for my home, it is my investment and I also care for other people’s property…. it is their investment. This is one reason when owners are putting in flooring, furnishings etc. they should show for durable items…. especially the flooring. (Tile is wonderful & I actually believe renters want to see tile more) I want and expect a condo I rent to be nice & clean & without terrible damage thus meaning broken down couches & wobbly chairs. Yes I am a paying “customer” but, I also have my expectations and rights to want the best for my family & the good sense to leave it decent for the next family. Wouldn’t you?


6 Jim February 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

We are updating our TVs this coming season. Families appreciate having smart TVs so they can hook up with Netflix, Hulu, etc. You have internet, you have TVs, you need current technology to sync the 2. Its a free way for parents to keep their children entertained when not at the beach


7 jason February 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Jim, this is something we’re doing in all of our properties that are upgrading TV’s – asking for app-enabled TV’s or Blue Ray players. It’s something we get requested, and it’s so cheap!


8 Karen Smith February 28, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Changing out dinasour TV’s was the first thing I did to update my Calypso unit. Surprisingly enough I had to update a 30A condo as well. I think most people expect the latest and the greatest when they are on vacation. We have a new one about to go live with Swantree and we are going to do a test drive on our condo this weekend to make sure it is cozy and lovable for us so that I bet others will like it too!!! So far having rentals has been a great joy to me as our tenants have been kind and respectful and grateful.


9 Cathy March 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Yes, the old dinosaur tv’s are all but distinct. When we updated our home years back we put the three we had in our neighborhood yard sale……could not give them away! I eventually donated them to Goodwill. When I rent a condo it is one of the first things I look at to see if updates have been made. I also look at the flooring…..our family likes tile, if the grandsons spill anything we can easily wipe it up and if sand gets out of shells etc. I can sweep it us (yes, I do sweep & have vacuumed) while on vacation. If a unit has a little wear & tear look that is perfectly ok….. as long as it’s not beyond that, couches should not be broken down sagging in the middle & arms of chairs frayed.
I think everyone nowadays wants wireless internet & a nice supply of towels & cooking/dishes etc. I wish more owners would place some plastic wear glasses/plates for children to use. To me personally all of these are a BIG plus… we have in years back had to go buy towels/cloths where the owners had supplied these but, they had mysteriously vanished. It is not nice for 2 to 4 adults & 2 small children to find 4 towels and 2 washcloths in a three bedroom condo.
I have in the past taken photos of things I find & if you have a good relationship with an owner believe me they are very grateful.
The greatest joy for me is to arrive at a condo I have rented & find it to be exactly what I was told & then some! That is indeed the start of a great enjoyable vacation! 🙂


10 vacation house rentals March 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Outstanding post. I am really encourage with your post. Thanks for posting:)


11 Maurice November 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I have fun with, cause I discovered exactly what I was taking a look for.
You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.



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