Angie’s List shares 12 tips to safely rent your home for the Big Game

Angie’s List shares 12 tips to safely rent your home for the Big Game

Now that the countdown to the kickoff of the championship game is just days away, homeowners and property rental experts expect to see a sharp increase in interest for temporary home rentals in Indianapolis this week. With listed per-night rental prices ranging from $1,000 to more than $6,000 across the city, it’s no wonder why many homeowners want to cash in on the visiting crowds of football fans.

"Money. Cold hard cash," says homeowner Michael Quinn of his motivation to rent out his five-bedroom home near 22nd and Talbott St. in Indianapolis for $2,500 per night. Unlike the majority of homeowners who spoke to Angie's List, Quinn had already secured out-of-town tenants for a four-night stay by press time.

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While the prospect of making thousands of dollars in profit is no doubt appealing, working with out-of-towners and temporary contracts could be risky. "I had a lengthy contract with a lot of stipulations," Quinn says.

Gus Muscari, who has listed his five-bedroom Beech Grove home for rent at $5,000 per night, says part of his strategy attempting to attract a particular type of renter. "I’m going for a higher price tier, so I’m hoping to get corporate renters," he says. "I want to rent to someone who needs a place to stay. I'm not too worried about people partying here, but I don't want them to trash the place."

Homeowner Damon Phelan also wanted to attract corporate renters for his five-bedroom home near 21st and Alabama St., which is part of the reason for his $5,500 per night rental fee. "You have to be mindful of an audience that would spend $6,000 a night," he says. "But you still have to do your due diligience by asking the right questions and checking out their backgrounds."

Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks cautions homeowners to not let the potential windfall dazzle them. “If you plan to invite strangers into your home, be smart about who you rent to, and protect yourself and your property," she says. "This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Make it a good – and profitable – one.”

If you want to rent your home out for the super crowds coming for the Big Game, keep these 12 tips in mind to help ensure it goes smoothly:

If you plan to use a company or real estate agent to list your home as a rental

1. Check out the business. If you plan to use a listing service that charges a listing fee, make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate business. “If they’re working with a rental company, they need to contact places like Angie’s List, the BBB and the Attorney General’s office to make sure it’s legitimate,” says Abby Kuzma, chief counsel for the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

Homeowners seeking to rent their homes reported to Angie's List listing fees that ranged from about $50 to more than $500. However, purchasing a listing doesn’t guarantee you’ll find a tenant and it may not offer any more features than online classifieds or event rental websites that don’t charge fees.

2. Verify the agent’s license. If you plan to use an Indiana real estate agent or broker to list your rental property, be sure to check the license with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. While Internet-based listing services might charge a one-time listing fee, real estate agents could charge a service fee based on a percentage of the rental contract’s total value.

When listing your property

3. De-clutter your home. Kristie Smith of the Indy Homes Team, a highly rated Indianapolis real estate agent offering home rental services, recommends making your home appear as close to a vacation rental as possible, which means clearing out personal items and making sure high visibility interior features like paint, caulking and carpet are in absolutely pristine condition.

“Hiring a carpet cleaning company and house cleaner requires a modest investment, but they make a house look great in a fraction of the time it would likely take the average homeowner, and it could make the difference that sets your house apart from others,” Hicks says.

4. Take photographs. Even though it’s a short-term lease, marketing your home online is no different than when selling a home, which means seeing is believing. Once your home is de-cluttered and cleaned up, take photographs that illustrate as many living areas of the home as possible.

5. Include relevant information. Since potential tenants are coming from out of town, you’ll want to include details such as nearby travel routes and proximity from the downtown action. Another key item is not only listing the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but also how many adults your home can comfortably accommodate overnight.

“Proximity is the No. 1 factor,” says Rob Newkirk of highly rated Newkirk Realty, which is offering temporary rental listing services.  “Then it’s bedrooms and how many people the home can sleep, which is a little different than how we traditionally market a home.”

6. Think about offering extra services. Whether it’s stocking the refrigerator with refreshments or picking up your tenants from the airport, an extra bit of service may give your listing a competitive edge. Services like light housekeeping during the rental period can also give you peace of mind.

“It’s a benefit to the renter, since they won’t have to do those things themselves,” Newkirk says. “But it also gives the homeowner a chance to check up on their property.”

When engaging in a contract with a renter

7. Get a security deposit and a down payment in advance.  “If something goes wrong it can be very difficult to collect money from someone who is from out of state,” Kuzma says. Also, be wary of potential “tenants” who ask for your bank account information to make payment – it’s likely a scam.

“Once the renter arrives to take possession, we recommend that the homeowner get full payment for the remaining balance,” Newkirk says.

8. Check the renter's background. Investing in a background check of your potential tenants can provide a better peace of mind and help ensure you know exactly who will be staying in your home.

9. Make sure the contract explicitly states your expectations.Whether it’s prohibitions like no smoking or no pets in the home, get it in writing. If possible, have an attorney review the contract. Although it may cost money, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment that can help ensure you’re not exposed to liability or damages by loopholes or missing contract terms.

10. Be willing to negotiate on price. Despite your hopes, not every home will demand $5,000 a night rental fees, especially with many Indianapolis-area homeowners seeking to rent out their homes and make a profit.  “Everybody thinks that they’re going to rent their home out and make $20,000 – but not everyone will,” Smith says.

11. Make sure you’re covered by insurance. Your general home insurance policy may not cover using your home as a rental property, even on a short-term basis. Contact your insurance agent to see what kinds of short-term insurance policy riders you should purchase to cover special event rentals.

“I would definitely recommend calling your agent to protect yourself,” Smith suggests. “Some things are not going to be covered if you rent the property out without additional insurance.”

When the tenant arrives

12. Take personal items, keepsakes, small valuables and portable electronics out of the house. Removing these items means you won’t have to worry about them disappearing. For other valuables or fragile items, keep them in a room, closet or area in house that’s locked and off-limits to your tenants.

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