With- Hunter Harrelson
In Episode 63 of the Impact Agent Broadcast, I sat down with Beach Ball Properties owner and vacation rental expert Hunter Harrelson. During our discussion we touch on vacation rental trends, the pros and cons of rental ownership, and how bucking established processes let the Harrelson family hold their own against industry juggernauts. If you’ve ever considered owning or investing in a vacation rental, this episode is for you.
The Beach Ball Properties Story
Beachfront vacation rentals tend to be owned by some pretty big names. Their clout allows them to grab all the best properties while everybody else fights for the scraps. This fact didn’t intimidate Hunter one bit. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, he knew that anybody could get a foothold if they played their cards right. Serving a stint as both a life insurance salesman and a financial advisor, Harrelson decided to get a side hustle working at a vacation rental business. When his wife’s legal contract didn’t get renewed, however, that extra income took on a whole new level of importance.
Combining his wife’s law skills with his father’s construction experience and Hunter’s time in sales, the family managed to piece together a marketing plan. But that was just one reason for their success. The other was the family’s willingness to embrace new technologies and ideas. These two things allowed the family to carve out their own vacation rental empire in the middle of Alabama’s gulf coast.
Combatting the Vacation Rental Myths
A lot of us have heard the horror stories. The teenagers trashing a multi-million-dollar rental, the client snapping his neck on the diving board and the ridiculous insurance bills. It’s these things that keep a lot of us from dipping our toes in the vacation rental business. Hunter had something to say about these myths:
● Insurance: With wet feet, hurricanes and flooding to contend with, I figured insurance would be sky high for somebody in Hunter’s shoes. When I brought it up, he replied: “It’s not as bad as I thought.” Though beachfront rentals are more expensive to insure than inland residences, they’re not astronomically so. He also reassured me that people don’t break their necks or jump off balconies all that often. However, when they do, having insurance makes it easy to settle things out of court.
● Property Damage: So, people don’t get hurt all that often, but what about property? Won’t all those beach parties and drunk frat boys ruin the furniture? If property damage is a big concern, you can take a page out of Hunter’s book and put a few rules in place. His properties, for example, require renters to be over 25 and willing to supply a credit card for incidentals. Due to this, he’s only ever had one incident. One that left a living room looking like a unicorn had exploded.
Why Homes Tend to Beat Out Condos
Condos tend to be the darling of the vacation rental world. They’re smaller, easier to maintain and hassle-free. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. Though there are advantages to investing in vacation condos, Hunter prefers houses for the following reasons:
● HOA fees tend to cost more than they’re actually worth
● Condominium owners place a lot of limits on tenants and activities
● Houses give you more control overlook, layout, and rules
● Single-family homes let you decide the number of heads in beds
Five Interesting Facts About the Vacation Rental Business
Hunter had a lot of insightful comments to make about clients and vacation rentals. While there’s still a lot to learn from the podcast, the following items stood out to me:
● October is the best time to go to the beach. Tourists are gone, the water’s clean, and the kids are back in school.
● You can add line items to your renter’s bills to cover your lodging taxes, cleaning fees, and processing fees.
● One out of every four guests are looking for pet-friendly accommodations
● Most people look at vacation rentals in the same way they would look at buying something on Amazon
● Alabama has all the beauty of Florida with lower taxes and more investment opportunities
Interested in getting into Vacation Rentals?
As real estate agents, we’re well-equipped to make the transition to vacation rental expert. Though the space offers its own set of challenges, it offers good ROI to those who do it right. You’ll probably find, just like Hunter’s financial experience, that your salesmanship will prove valuable. To learn more about Beach Ball Properties, you can visit beachballproperties.com.
You can heart the full podcast here.