Q: How much can I expect my Big Bear investment cabin to earn as a vacation rental?
A: It depends…
The earning potential of a Big Bear vacation rental property depends on several factors
Location, Location, Location
Typically, homes near the lake, village, and ski resorts will gross the highest in the Big Bear valley. Central Big Bear Lake tends to be the highest grossing area in terms of a vacation rental, since most recreational activities and events are located here. Big Bear City comes next, as it is the next closest in proximity to the ski slopes and the lake. Sugarloaf is third on the list, being located further out from the attractions. Fawnskin is on the north side and known as the “quiet side of the lake”, giving it a different appeal and rental potential.
Size & Occupancy
In general, the more guests that a home can accommodate (which is dictated by the rules & regulations/code – more on that later), the more the home would rent for per night. This is not a hard and fast rule, however. Tiny homes that accommodate 2-4 guests can do phenomenally well, since small groups and couples usually look for smaller spaces to rent. Not everyone needs 3 bedrooms. Tiny cabins also have less upkeep, are easier to clean, and are a lot lighter on the utility bills (heating a 400 square foot home costs a lot less than heating a 1,200 square foot home). Since the maximum occupancy for most rentals is 16 guests (with exception to some large homes on acreage), the largest homes tend to gross the highest profits. Find your sweet spot. What will appeal to your personal needs, and what can you afford to manage for your guests?
Three main amenities common in Big Bear vacation rentals are: hot tub, game table, and internet. Adding these three amenities to your home greatly increases its desirability and may warrant a bump in what you charge per night. Other amenities and options to add to your listing include: pet friendly, garage access, washer & dryer, and a fully/partially fenced yard.
Reviews & Return Guests
It speaks for itself that the positively reviewed homes on platforms like Airbnb & VRBO rent out more often with repeat guest bookings. Keeping your home well maintained, properly cleaned before arrival, providing good customer service before, during, and after guests’ occupancy, and catering to their experience will garner positive reviews. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can charge more per night, but it will help keep a steady stream of bookings coming your way.
Code Compliance & TOT
It is important to comply with rental codes and regulations. Depending on where the home is located, the code compliance rules and regulations will be governed by either the City of Big Bear Lake or San Bernardino County. If the home has unpermitted areas or glaring structural issues, it may not pass inspection and therefore will never be permitted as a vacation rental. Not permitted = no income.
It is also important to pay your fair share of transient occupancy tax (TOT) and TBID assessment. These are required by law to be paid by all property owners earning rental income. More info on that here.
Vacation Rental Management
Most vacation rental management companies in Big Bear want your business, and they want you to be successful. The more your home grosses in profit, the more the vacation rental company earns from managing the property for you! Don’t be afraid to develop a relationship with prospective rental companies early on and ask questions. They are usually happy to provide estimates as to the gross revenue the home could produce. Once you narrow down your property search to a few favorites, ask for rental projections. This will equip you with knowledge to make better decisions when offering to purchase your investment property.
Don’t forget that owning a vacation rental costs money. Mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance are some of the expenses you will be responsible for. Click here for more information on the costs associated with owning a vacation rental property in Big Bear.