Every month I speak to several would-be holiday cottage owners considering getting into the holiday let business in Yorkshire. It’s fascinating to see how different people approach it in different ways. Many are very sure of their reasons for doing it, what they want to achieve. Others are grateful for a little direction.
So… with that in mind, this week I’m offering my top five tips if you’re thinking of buying a holiday cottage in Yorkshire.
What are you buying it for?
This might seem a ridiculously obvious question, but it's one people often forget to ask themselves before taking the plunge and buying a holiday home. So sit down and ask yourself “What am I buying this home for?” Write down the answers and think about what that means for any decisions you have to take. You may have fantasies about escaping to your Yorkshire holiday cottage every other weekend and letting it to holidaymakers in between, but think about the reality of that. Will you feel comfortable with other people staying in your holiday cottage? Can you have it just as you would like it if paying guests will be in and out every week? And if you are buying your cottage purely as a financial investment, don’t be influenced by your own subjective choice of location. Just because you fancy a romantic little hideaway, miles from anyone, doesn’t mean that it will have a universal appeal. More on that later.
What’s your niche market?
Assuming most people are buying a holiday cottage as an investment with the intention of letting it - at least some of the time - it’s really important to think about what market you want to appeal to. Maximising your occupancy levels is all about understanding your niche market and ensuring you do everything you can to appeal to that market.
For example, if you are buying a large holiday cottage, think about how you can maximise its appeal to the family market. Can you include a small children’s playground, a games room, are there enough bathrooms for everyone? etc.
If you have opted for a one-bedroom cottage think about why couples would choose your cottage over the hundreds of others out there – what makes it romantic or exclusive? Think open fires, baths in the bedroom, four-poster beds... the list is endless.
Do you want it to appeal to pet-owners? What can you do to entice them to your cottage? Little extras like beds and food bowls make all the difference. Take a look at some of our Pet-friendly Yorkshire Cottages here for inspiration.
And don’t forget to think about what level you want to pitch the cottage at. Do you want to go all out for the luxury Yorkshire Cottage market? If you do make sure that the interior design, the furnishings, the fixtures and the service are all there. Having a high-end luxury cottage can be very rewarding as you will be creating something beautiful, but remember that five star guests have five star expectations! Of course the luxury cottage market is what we’re all about so we can guide you on all of the above…
Location, location, location!
As Kirsty and Phil will tell you, a large factor in the success of a holiday cottage is about location. You may prefer a less touristy destination for your own holidays, but if you want to encourage bookings throughout the year then I’d recommend you try to buy, wherever possible of course, as close to a well-known Yorkshire destination or attraction as you can.
Consider the many honeypot villages in the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors, the famous towns and villages on the Yorkshire coast, within striking distance of York. The more you can reference your cottage in the context of well-known and well-loved locations the better.
And if you are concerned that your location may not be as popular, do something to make the cottage appeal in its own right. Install a hot tub, a home-cinema, think about other niche markets like cyclists and walkers and do things to appeal to them.
Don’t forget – location is also important if you want to be able to clean and do change-overs yourself. An hour’s drive every Friday and Monday may not seem too bad at the start but six months in may become a complete drag!
‘Within walking distance of…’
Every savvy self-catering holidaymaker wants to see these words beside a prospective holiday cottage. It may seem like a small point, but if your cottage within walking distance of a good Yorkshire pub or restaurant, it will make a significant difference to your booking conversion rate.
After ensuring a cottage has Wi-Fi, it’s probably the second most asked question when our guests are debating one cottage over another. Luckily, even in many rural areas, Yorkshire has an abundance of excellent gastro-pubs and restaurants.
So do your research. Get out there and hunt down those fabulous little places to eat (tough job - not!) and start to investigate property for sale in the area.
Be aware of all financial commitments
It’s easy to get caught up in the dream of owning your very own holiday home, offering it to delighted friends and family for Christmas, having it as a place for the family to retreat to. That’s all ok, and don’t let me stop you from enjoying all of that. BUT, and it is a very important but, make sure you have done your sums!
I always advise prospective owners that if they are looking for immediate profit they should consider another investment. Owning a holiday cottage is all about long-term returns. Think about all of your initial costs – solicitor fees, renovations, ensuring the property is safe and legal. Here Excel can be a dear friend. Set up a spreadsheet and list absolutely everything you will have to spend within the first three months to get the property ready to be a holiday cottage.
Be honest and don’t underestimate – better to realise it is not going to work before you buy it rather than five months into a building nightmare. Take a look at Channel 4 Homes for lots more advice on renovation projects and costs etc. And once the cottage is ready, make sure you are fully aware of the monthly running costs.
There are many things you may not even have considered including insurance costs, annual décor refreshing, gas safety checks, electrical testing, marketing etc. And of course things like fuel costs, cleaning, breakages, water rates. The list may seem endless, but once you have it all written down in black and white you will be in a much better position to know what to do.
And finally, I do hope I haven’t completely put you off your dream of owning a holiday cottage in Yorkshire! As someone in the business I can honestly say it is a fantastic way to invest your money and can be extremely rewarding, both on a personal level & professional level.
I think we have the finest collection of Luxury Holiday Cottages in Yorkshire, so if you are thinking about buying your own holiday cottage in Yorkshire take inspiration from them and go for it!
We would love to hear about your own experiences so do get in touch – have you found it to be everything you hoped for?