Knight Frank Residential SA’s holiday villa service has experienced an increase in demand for accommodation on the Atlantic Seaboard, and there seems to be a rising trend for upcountry and overseas buyers who have bought holiday homes here to rent them out on short term lets when their families are not in residence, says Helen Hoekstra, general manager of Atlantic Seaboard Knight Frank branch.
In a recent Stats SA report on tourist accommodation they noted, “In November 2013, the types of accommodation that recorded positive year-on-year growth rates in income from accommodation were guest-houses and guest-farms (26,4%), hotels (12,5%) and ‘other’ accommodation (10,4%)”, and Hoekstra says Knight Frank expects this to continue to rise in the areas in which they operate.
If a person is considering letting their homes out on short lets, there are a few guidelines that could help a great deal in making this a seamless operation, she said.
The first thing to consider carefully is the agent who will be managing the property. It is wise to choose one that specialises in this industry and not only has contacts in South Africa but in other countries as well to ensure steady lets and that the home is aimed at the right target market, she said.
“We at Knight Frank have seen how important it is to have an international presence when it comes to holiday accommodation and make sure the home rented out is exposed to the market in the way it should be,” she said.
The proper management of holiday villa letting is of vital importance, and this can be a complicated process as it has many aspects to it. Apart from the initial vetting of the tenants, there are many other items that need attending to. The Knight Frank service is comprehensive in that it covers such things as inventory, property management, tenant management, airport transfers, concierge services, cleaning and laundry services and sometimes even catering.
The inventory count in the home of all the items (this is a comprehensive list, from furniture to smaller items such as cutlery, crockery, towels, etc) and this must be checked at each check out, said Janine Sullivan, manager of the holiday rental division.
Before a person is checked in, a condition report is done by the manager, to make sure the home is in good order and that everything works, such as fridges, internet service, remotes for gates, and the like, she said. When the guest arrives, there is an inspection of the property together and they will sign a form agreeing to the condition of the house and its contents.
“This means the staff at Knight Frank are often on call at any time of the day, if the guests arrive at 10pm or 5am, we are there to greet them,” said Sullivan.
Most homes that are let out on short lets tend to be fully furnished, fully equipped with kitchenware and appliances and other appliances in the home which are needed for day to day living. It is best, however, to have minimalistic decoration in the home, so there is less chance of breakages or damage to items that are costly.
The best way to keep the maintenance or replacements of breakables to a minimum, advised Sullivan, is to stock the home with items that can withstand constant use. The kitchen and bar should have sturdy glassware and crockery, of the type used by catering companies. Have washable slipcovers on the couches and buy rugs that either have patterns on them to hide possible marking, or have them Scotchguard treated. Make sure the towels and linen are 100% cotton or bamboo, so that they can withstand high temperature washing, and white is often preferable because they can then be bleached if necessary.
“While most guests will look after their holiday house as they would their own home,” she said, “there will inevitably be an accidental breakage or a glass of wine could accidentally be dropped on a rug, but this sort of incident would be covered by the breakages deposit paid by the guest that is held by the agent.”
“The more villas we have to manage, we can find guests to occupy them,” said Sullivan. “Over December last year bookings increased dramatically and we found that we ran out of homes to offer prospective guests. Some have already booked for the next season as many visitors do book a year in advance. Those who holiday here are not only overseas visitors, however. There have been many from Johannesburg, who we particularly see over the Argus Cycle Tour period in addition to December and January and the Mining Indaba also brings a large amount of business people to Cape Town.”
The average rental achievable on a two bedroom apartment in Sea Point could be around R3 000 per night, whereas the larger homes with four bedrooms in Camps Bay, Clifton and Bantry Bay fetch R10 000 to R20 000 per night, said Sullivan.
“It makes sense, therefore, if the house will be standing empty for a period of time, to maximise on the income it could achieve and rent it out for shorter periods, and have a good agent manage all aspects of the rental process,” she said.