Whether you already own or are thinking about buying a vacation second home, reading “Profit from Your Vacation Home Dream” by Christine Hrib Karpinski will be very valuable reading. The author, owner of several vacation homes who also helps other second-home owners who want to rent their homes when not being personally used, shares her many experiences with this type of property.

Before reading this ultra-complete book, I didn’t realize the complexities of the vacation-home market and its potential profitability. Karpinski’s new book quickly educated me as to the vacation-home profit potential in addition to the owner’s personal home enjoyment.

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She emphasizes her formulas for how to find and buy a vacation home with profit potential. Karpinski explains how to check out prospective rental profits, giving many personal examples and those of her clients. The book shows vacation homes are definitely not passive investments, but rather “hands on” profit opportunities that require personal involvement of the owner.

Karpinski is a big advocate of renting “by owner” without help from a professional management company, which, she feels, take away the cash-flow rent profit. She shares lots of personal experiences of how to select daily, weekly and monthly renters, while reserving the choice “personal use” times for the vacation-home owner.

Without the many personal examples, this book would have been a “dud.” But the examples from the author’s many vacation-home experiences, plus those of her friends, add realism and interest to the book. As the owner of a second home, which I never rent to tenants, I quickly learned what to expect if I should decide to rent for extra income.

Especially valuable is the “Karpinski formula” for determining whether a vacation home will be profitable if it is rented when the owner doesn’t want to personally use it. By shopping nearby vacation rentals, the author shows how to establish reasonable rents. Then Karpinski shares her break-even formula for “peak week” rentals, which she says should cover the monthly mortgage payment. Adding a few more off-peak rental weeks for a total of 17 weeks each year, she shows how vacation-home owners can pay all expenses from rentals.

The author goes into great detail about profitable management techniques she uses to operate her vacation rentals long distance from her home. She heavily uses the Internet to find qualified renters, then she screens them over the phone when taking their reservations.

In addition, Karpinski explains how to handle details such as cleaning between tenants, avoiding bad tenants, giving directions to renters, and the all-important key transfers. Her system of long-distance rental management is amazing, based on her experience gained from many years of managing vacation rentals.

Chapter topics include “Where to Begin”; “Types of Vacation Homes to Consider”; “Finding a Real Estate Professional”; “Reviewing Your Financing Options”; “Negotiating an Offer and Closing from Afar”; “Home Inspections and Insurance”; “How to Rent by Owner”; “Working with a Property Management Company”; “Advertising Your Rental Property”; “Buying and Holding Your Vacation Home”; “Maintaining Your Property from Afar”; and “Being a Good Neighbor.” The superb Appendix contains rental forms, Web sites for vacation-home advertising, and recommended resources for more information.

This “owner’s manual” for vacation-home owners who want to earn rental income when they are not in residence would be hard to improve upon. It explains virtually all the pros and cons of vacation second home ownership. On my scale of one to 10, the book rates a solid 10.

“Profit From Your Vacation Home Dream,” by Christine Hrib Karpinski (Dearborn Trade Publishing, Chicago), 2005, $19.95, 212 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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