If you own a second home in Big Bear, you’ve probably considered jumping into the rental market. The Big Bear vacation rental market is one of the most active and lucrative markets in California. The City of Big Bear Lake currently has over 1,100 registered vacation rentals on the books and they estimate another 300 to 500 properties are operating “under the radar”. If you take into account the hundreds of vacation rental properties located outside of the city limits, the total number of rentals in the Big Bear valley is somewhere around 2,000.
Vacation rental listing sites like VRBO and HomeAway make it much easier for the “rent by owner” to market vacancies to the masses. If you have the time and patience to set up your listing and respond to inquiries you can save thousands of dollars on management fees. You’ll still need to hire housekeepers, coordinate cleanings, respond to emergency calls, and have a secure way of getting the keys to your guests. As long as you have someone local that you can count on, renting by owner can be an excellent way to generate income while you’re not using your home. Just remember that the property will receive wear and tear that may be hard to take. Be sure to collect an adequate security deposit and always inspect the property thoroughly before you refund any deposit money.
Many property owners employ management companies to market and manage their rentals. Commissions range between 25% and 50% of the nightly rental rate, depending on the company, and some charge for monthly inspections, snow plowing, spa service, etc.
Over the Christmas / New Year’s holiday season practically every available Big Bear property gets rented. Depending on how much snow we receive, the winter months usually account for 75% of the annual rental income. Nightly rental rates for a two bedroom cabin average about $165 annually and three bedroom properties average about $215 per night. Occupancy rates for Big Bear vacation rentals rarely rise above 50%, with average occupancy in the 35% to 40% range.
Long term rentals can be a bit more challenging. The trick here is to screen your prospective tenants thoroughly. You must obtain and investigate credit/background information, references, employment history and past addresses. If things don’t work out or the tenant stops paying rent you will have to go through the eviction process to get them out. Long-term rental rates have remained relatively low for years. Two bedroom properties typically rent for $750 to $1100 per month and three bedrooms average $1000 to $1800, depending on location and amenities.
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